Our lives have a deep, rich symbiosis with Earth, one that aids our mental and physical well-being. In of times strife, turning to this beneficial relationship with nature brings us ease. The garden provides not just nourishment, but much-needed comfort. Those who are avid gardeners know the many health benefits that come with the craft, including increases of vitamin D and decreases in blood pressure.
Helen, a resident of Judson Park, is a gardening enthusiast who assists with watering plants on the 6th floor. “I love to garden, I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember,” Helen states. “I definitely find mood benefits, and therefore health benefits with gardening.”
Carl, a resident of Judson Manor, joined a group of gardeners at the manor last year that help tend to the rooftop garden boxes by watering plants, trimming perennials, and planting tomatoes, sunflowers, daisies, and more. “I just like to see the things I’ve planted grow,” Carl mentions in regards to his passion for gardening.
Planting a garden does not need to be a daunting feat, but can be accomplished by anyone with a desire to get in touch with Mother Nature!
While enjoying fresh air and sun sounds divine, staying uncomfortably bent over to tend the garden can seem less appealing. To account for gardening discomforts, use the right tools! Chairs and stools can help ease uncomfortable positions and offer rest. Alleviate the strain on joints while kneeling by putting an old towel or yoga mat under your knees for extra cushioning. Furthermore, consider gardening at a table and investing in raised garden beds. Both will help eliminate strain on the body by providing an elevated workspace.
For those who do not have outdoor garden access, embrace windowsill boxes and indoor potted plants. Helen has recently turned to her windowsill garden as a way to continue her passion for gardening from her own home. Window boxes are easy to maintain and are a convenient way to stay connected with the garden.
Pruning perennials helps to encourage the future growth of the plant. Holden Forests and Gardens advise a proper way to prune by first removing “leaf litter” covering the base of the stem. Next, “cut the stems as close to the ground as possible to remove the old, damaged leaves being careful to not accidentally snip off the new flowers or new leaf growth.” Lastly, HF&G suggests carefully replacing “leaf litter” around the base of the plant to protect new seedlings.
The depth that seeds are planted can greatly affect their ability to properly grow. According to Holden Forests and Gardens, “a general planting rule is to sow the seeds to a depth of no more than twice its width”. HF&G also recommends planting small seeds, seeds less than 1/16th inch, on top of the soil. If planted too deep, these small seed “will likely rot and not germinate”. Make sure to sow seed correctly in garden boxes as well. “I had planted daisies that did not survive, they were in a box that sloped on the bottom and I don’t think they could grow deep enough” Carl states. When planting in garden boxes, take into account the depth of the box compared to the size of the plant to make sure there is ample space to grow.
The Cleveland Botanical Garden and Holden Forests and Gardens are wonderful local resources that share nature expertise online to assist gardening enthusiasts. These resources provide a plethora of outdoor tips, including information on gardening, a tree care toolkit, and a guide on invasive vs. noninvasive species of plants. Check out HF&G’s online learning page for more rich knowledge to enhance your gardening experience.