Are you looking to get in shape, burn calories, strengthen your muscles, become more flexible, make your step quota, find your Zen state, get your head on straight and absorb some vitamin D? Of course, you are. But wait, there’s more.

Do you want to add to your property value, increase your curb appeal, beautify your neighborhood, be the envy of your neighbors and meet some new friends? Sure, you do. But wait, there’s more.

Are you interested in conserving the environment, attracting bees and other beneficial insects, stopping erosion and improving your soil? Yes, you are. Does being creative and healthy speak to you? Why, yes, it does. How can you achieve any or all of these goals? Have I got a deal for you. You. Yes, you, can do all of these things by gardening.

What if you could check off several, if not most, of your interests with one activity? Would you be intrigued? “This sounds too good to be true,” you say. Well, naysayers, pay attention. Gardening is for you.

Good health

Longtime Sen. Arlen Specter said, “There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.” According to Wikipedia, health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Ingrid Bergman, the beautiful actress, said it better. She said, “Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”

Gardening can complete your well-being

Make the most of its benefits as it has no boundary to age, feeds psychological needs and improves physical well-being.

Appeals to all ages

How do I get healthy? Where do I begin? First of all, gardening appeals to all ages, the young and old alike, like a healthy, happy habit.

  • Children

Children appreciate fast results, starting with seeds and ending up with a food in a relatively short time span. Because of this, radishes are a great starter vegetable. Gardening helps kids learn responsibility and discipline. Young plants need water on a regular basis.

  • Adults

Adults can be fulfilled with the creative process, the planning, the implementing and the finished product. Sometimes, it is the journey and not the destination that provides the most joy. Renowned fashion designer Oscar de la Renta believed that “gardening is how I relax: It’s another form of creating and playing with colors.”

Feeds psychological needs

Secondly, gardening feeds your psychological needs. In our fast paced, stressful lives, we all could use more time to relax and meditate.

  • In love with the dirt

Enjoy the hands-on aspect of gardening. I find satisfaction in starting with nothing and ending up with something. I love to put my hands in the dirt. I love the smell of dirt. In addition, gardening fuels creativity. You don’t have to indulge in the art of topiary or bonsai to bring a smile to your face.

  • “Thrill of the kill” brings satisfaction

Often, it is the “thrill of the kill” that can make you happy. You can take out lots of frustration by whacking a weed, plotting a snail’s demise or spraying for mites. Gardening has something for everyone.

Improves physical well-being

  • Burns calories

How can gardening improve physical well-being? Movement burns calories. Now, I don’t think you can justify a pint of Blue Bell ice cream after weeding the flower beds – unless you weed a football field.

  • Strengthens muscles

The more you move, the better. Carrying plants, dirt and mulch strengthens your muscles. Let’s slow down the aging process with gardening. Our bodies need vitamin D. Gardening is a great way to get this essential vitamin. You don’t need to take another pill. Just let the sunshine work its magic.

  • Helps with range of motion

Gardening helps range of motion. Our muscles and bones need to move. Gardening requires bending, stretching and walking. Watering plants or moving water hoses will keep you active. This type of exercise is kinder to your joints than running. Although controversial, exercise may slow the onset or progression of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Feel, look great

In conclusion, gardening will make you feel and look great. American botanist and plant breeder Luther Burbank felt that “flowers always make people feel better, happier and more helpful. They are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” Author Alice Sebold stated, “I like gardening – it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.”

Get your hands dirty

Finally, go out and get your hands dirty in the garden. As my friend, former Jackson County Justice of the Peace Dwayne Taylor said, “Lil’ dirt don’t hurt.”

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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