NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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It's Time to Garden!

garden, gardening, vegetable gardening, flower gardening, community garden

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

For many people, “spring” is synonymous with “gardening.” Between vegetable gardening, flower gardening, and fruit trees, digging in the dirt is a way of life for many.  Based on my personal experiences, I have to agree with what research is proving:  gardening is good therapy!

Gardening offers physical, psychological, and nutritional benefits. In fact, gardening has been identified by the National Diabetes Education Program as one way to remain or become physically active. Additionally, research has shown that having physical and visual access to nature speeds recovery from illness, reduces stress, and lowers blood pressure.

Other studies have shown that gardening promotes bonding with your family and fosters life skills, including responsibility. If you have trouble sleeping or are coping with stressful life situations, gardening may help. Some researchers have found that gardening has a calming effect.

Gardening burns calories. Gardening is considered moderate to high-intensity exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can burn up to 330 calories during just one hour of light gardening and yard work — more than lifting weights for the same amount of time. The National Institute of Health goes so far as to recommend 30 to 45 minutes of gardening three to five times a week as part of a good strategy

Some researchers have linked gardening to the prevention of osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones through time. Walking, lifting watering cans and hoeing are a few of the gardening activities that help strengthen our bones.

Now is the time to begin thinking about where and what to plant in your garden. If you are interested in gardening, but don’t know how to get started, here are some tips:

  • Find a place to plant a garden. A community garden plot may be an option. Contact the Extension office to reserve a spot in the Beulah Community Garden. If this option interests you, act soon as garden plots may be in demand this year. Each plot is 10’ x 10’ for $25 which includes water and tilling.
  • If you have space, ensure it has rich soil and full sun exposure. If you do not have enough space, consider planting vegetables such as string beans or tomatoes in containers.
  • Locate a water source. Most vegetables aren’t drought-tolerant; you’ll need to give them drinks during the dry spells. Remember, the closer the water source, the easier for you to make sure your plants get the water they need.
  • Decide what to plant. Choose plants that grow well in your climate. For example, corn, potatoes and tomatoes are dominant plants in North Dakota.
  • Decide on a growing method. You can start growing vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers indoors, then transplant the seedlings to your garden when the weather warms.
  • Know when to plant. In North Dakota, the best time generally is in May.

Enjoy your garden! Gardening provides an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and the added bonus of getting physical activity.

Sources: Julie Garden-Robinson, food and nutrition specialist

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