NDSU Extension Service - Sargent County

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Gardening Creates Wholesome and Holistic Benefits

vegetable garden


With the arrival of garden seed catalogs in the mail, the appearance of garden seed displays in stores, recent warm temps, and bird songs in the air, it’s easy to get in the swing of thinking spring. 

For many people, “spring” is synonymous with “gardening.”  Between vegetable gardening, flower gardening, field crops, and fruit trees on our family farm, digging in the dirt has always been a way of life for me.  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. 

In Sargent county, Curt Larson, Kathy Marquette, and Al Colemer recently completed the NDSU Extension Master Gardener program.  They are now making plans to serve our county by providing local gardening opportunities, including an intergenerational community gardening project.  That particular project offers the additional potential benefit of bringing people together to create social wellness benefits.

Research among senior citizens has indicated that seniors involved in gardening efforts experience a sense of empowerment and control of their lives.  Such a sense is often predictive of good health and a higher quality of life.   When I worked as the director of activity services at a long-term care nursing facility, I saw these positive effects first-hand.  I also witnessed the positive impact outdoor activities such as gardening had on persons who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

If having “a big garden” is not an option, for whatever reason, an alternative to consider is “square foot gardening.”   Square foot gardening (SQF) offers several advantages:

 -  the soil remains in good condition because it doesn’t become compacted by foot traffic
 -  increased production from planting in blocks rather than rows
 -  easy to water and fertilize without wasting water or fertilizer
 -  less weeding
 -  easy to rotate what is grown in each square foot
 -  no need for spring tilling
 -  soil can be designed to drain well
 -  raised beds spare the gardener’s back

Visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/hortcrop/h1597.pdf to learn more about square foot gardening and how to do it, or request “The Facts of Square Foot Gardening” (publication H1597) from your county extension office.

References:  NDSU Extension Service:  The Facts of Square Foot Gardening, University of California Cooperative Extension: http://ucanr.org/sites/camg2011/files/101993.pdf, National Diabetes Education Program:  http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-communication-programs/ndep/living-with-diabetes/older-adults/more-active/Pages/resourcedetail.aspx 

Photo Credit:  https://pixabay.com/en/vegetable-garden-medieval-garden-890625/ (downloaded 3-3-16)

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