Vegetable Gardening as Therapy.

Gardening is more than a hobby; it’s a scientifically proven anti-depressant.  No wonder you like to dig in the dirt!  

Very large garden full of raised beds with cedar mulch pathways, blonde woman crouched with wicker basket gathering lettuce.

Vegetable gardening is my therapy. I don’t mean that in a lighthearted, print it on a tee shirt with a picture of a dancing beet kind of way. I mean, for real, no joke, gardening is my therapy.

Some people will look at this photo and all they’ll see is work.  Others?  Just looking at a garden calms us.

I can’t even explain to you how or why gardening is therapeutic for me. It just is.  I go to my garden and I feel better. Even if I’m already feeling pretty good.  It doesn’t make any difference what I’m doing there. I could be weeding, lugging soil, building planter beds or just walking around to check on things … they all make me feel … better.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Gardening (vegetable or not) is proven to be an effective method of improving mental health. There are genuine scientific reasons for this, like the fact that gardening reduces stress by decreasing the production of cortisol. I have no idea why this is such a good thing but it is. Scientific people, who wear lab coats and stuff, say so.

Gardening Gets Us Out of Our Heads.

Apparently, gardening in a community garden is especially good for anyone who has anxiety, depression or emotional pain. This is because gardening forces us to focus on the external world; things like dirt, bugs, the sun, and seeds.  This, as opposed to internal things like worries, pain, and what to watch next on Netflix.

Gardening is Exercise

Community gardening also brings us together with other people (being social has huge mental health benefits) and gets us exercising, which is a mood enhancer unless the exercise you’re doing is running, which everyone knows is the number 3 torture technique in the world falling just behind watching someone eat pizza when you can’t have any, and listening to a child play the recorder.

If you haven’t seen it before, this is my 40′ x 40′ community mental health facility.  I mean garden.

Gardening is officially one of the best things you can do for your mental health. The only people this isn’t true for, are people who genuinely hate gardening. You know, weirdos.

Tranquil shot of gardener's hand holding sprinkler, watering large vegetable garden in the late afternoon.

But really.  What IS it that is so relaxing about gardening?  Why does it  make us feel good? For me I know a lot of it has to do with being outside.  I did a bit of research into this and found the same quote over and over again.

“Nature Calms Us.”

O.K.  Fine.  But WHY does nature calm us.  Why nature and not … an Ikea warehouse for example?

I gave it a lot of thought and I think I have one of the answers.

We can’t control nature.  We can’t budge it, change it or buy it.   If you’re in your house your thoughts are probably  bouncing around from “I need to do laundry” to “I want to try the couch against the other wall” to “Why does everyone leave their shoes directly in front of the door?”.  These are all things you feel like you need to deal with at some point.

That doesn’t happen in nature.  You’re rendered … decisionless.  When’s the last time you went on a walk in the forest or a field and decided it needed a little rearranging.  Maybe a row of Billy bookcases.  It isn’t an option so you don’t even think about it. In nature you completely give up control.  And the need to control things is what causes a LOT of stress. Giving up that control is incredibly calming.

Of course in vegetable gardening you’re constantly trying to control everything from bugs to blight but that ruins my point so let’s ignore that.

Gardening is Nurturing.

Gardening at its most basic level is taking care of living things that don’t barf on you.  Win win.  This makes gardening especially good for people who don’t have pets, kids or spouses around to take care of.  It’s human nature to nurture things.  And then eat them.  With butter.

Is gardening your therapy? If not, what is?  I mean other than an actual therapist, because you need something in addition to that.  Something cheaper.

If you DON’T have something maybe we need to talk about a gardening challenge this spring so you can see if you might just be missing out on some great therapy.

Have a good weekend!


 

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Gardening is more than a hobby; it's a scientifically proven anti-depressant.  Read more.

98 Comments

  1. Kmarie says:

    I need to live somewhere that has access to a live garden all year long… rural northern prairies makes me crazy by this time of year for green and dirt. I have 92 plants inside my home and love them – even grew oranges and limes this year but it’s not the same as outdoors. Plus I could use a secondary therapist 😉

    • SH says:

      You grew oranges and limes indoors? I am equally impressed and envious! There has to be some therapeutic benefit to caring for all your plants, even if indoors.

      • Kmarie says:

        Yes there is – not quite like summer but I love our home and inside feels nurturing;) yes oranges and lines but I have yet to figure out when to pick them – they love bright, hot, southern light which we have in our home. Aloe Vera also thrives in winter southern windows 🙂

    • Kmarie says:

      Here Is a picture of the lime – they have been getting larger each month but I’m unsure when to pick …

  2. Robert says:

    The way you describe gardening and your past mentions of loving being a hooker I’m thinking you should take a hobby more on the ‘Grey’ area (jk, but maybe???) 😁😁😁
    I personally really love a good fashion show very relaxing especially if sound designed by Michel Gaubert
    And welcome back from the guts of the blog

  3. Wendi says:

    Gardening isn’t good therapy for me, but that’s because of my arachnophobia (even being on medication for it, I’m still unable to spend much time outside). I can see how it could be a good stress reliever for most other people though. I’ll just have to stick with reading as stress relief 😉

    • Nancy says:

      Haha, Wendi. Of all the bugs I constantly encounter out there in the garden wilderness, I have come to realize, I am more benevolent toward the spiders than I am toward the plant killers. And I FREAK at bugs, so when I come across spiders (unless black widows or brown recluses), I give them their berth, and encourage them. Go GET em, guy. Yep I am a bugaphobic. I am so sorry you have this to the extent you do. . . bless your heart.

      • Wendi says:

        I’m so glad that you’re still able to enjoy gardening even though you have issues with bugs. And it’s funny, I have no problem whatsoever with bugs. I can carry beetles around in my hand, I catch hornets/bees with a cup and a piece of paper…no problem. I even left Facebook because too many people were posting spider pics on their pages! lol

        • Mary W says:

          You and I share this strange phobia. I don’t care about any other bugs and really like snakes but spiders? If I saw a picture of one, I would slam the book shut. I live in Florida so it is worse than normal for the large nasty hairy beasts. BUT, after I looked up the meaning associated with spiders (if it was a true deep phobia) I was surprised to learn it represented mothers. I always had issues with mine but that confused me. After she died, my phobia sort of went away. I DO NOT want one on or near me, but it isn’t the extreme fear I had. Not sure how this relates to mothers, but I know it happened to me. I never wanted to ‘get over it’ since thinking I wouldn’t care if one was on me, scared me even more. But now I’d say I’m not phobic, but they still can’t be in my house or on me. I admire the beautiful webs they make and the deep fear is gone but I’m still don’t want them near. All this just to say, there is hope for peace but not sure how it can happen for you. I’m truly sorry since I’ve been there and it is NOT fun.

        • Wendi says:

          I’m so glad you were able to get over it, Mary! I know that people DO conquer their phobias sometimes so I guess there’s always hope! And on the mom issue, unfortunately that doesn’t fit me. My mother and I are close and we’ve literally never had any problems. That’s an interesting idea though. I might have to look that up and read more about it!

    • Karen says:

      You know what’s funny? I’m not great with spiders either but when they’re in their own natural habitat they don’t startle me nearly as much. ~ karen!

      • Wendi says:

        It’s funny you mentioned the “in their natural habitat” thing. My husband always chuckles at me because when we’re outside and I make him kill a spider, I always feel so guilty about it because they’re in their home and it’s not their fault that I’m a nutter! lol

    • Karen says:

      (and yes I realize that “not being great with” and having a genuine phobia are two very different things.) 🙂 ~ karen!

  4. Loreen says:

    Nice article and a reminder spring is close. I love the way you can loose yourself in the garden; start here and end up there puttering your troubles into the dirt. My work life is very structured so garden time is just the opposite and my salvation.

  5. Lois Baron says:

    Browsing in a fabric store is soothing for me (as opposed to when I have to find a specific fabric for something). I love being in there with all the colors and textures and patterns. And going to an office supply store /stationery shop makes me happy too.

    • Thandi says:

      Touching all the rolls and rolls of fabric is incredibly soothing. All the different textures, and that comforting smell. And the snicksnicksnick of the shears. I love fabric shops. Probably as much as I love libraries.

    • Nicole says:

      Ooo, yes, office supply stores or libraries. Also craft stores, and sometimes home improvement stores. They are places filled with potential. I think I find grocery stores calming for the same reason. There are all sorts of cool things I could make (but I’m really just here for another bag of frozen chicken tenders, so…).

  6. Nancy says:

    Your discussion of loofas was what got me here, Karen–so glad I decided to grow a loofa this year!!! Otherwise I might now have found you for another three years! Then I got busy doing a bunch of winter sowing and trying to organize some sort of plan for starting seeds indoors and finding missing “must-have” seeds and getting them ordered, and I totally dissed you. Poof–you were gone from my mind. Deleted your emails without reading em . . . . yep, did that to you for a month, then had to look up the details on loofas again, and then remembered your discussion. Okay. From now on, I WILL look at your emails. I WILL not ignore or forget you, and I’m recommending you to all my gardening friends. What you say above is the irreverent and zany truth. I almost fell off my chair laughing about the chickens. Most of my Okie friends (I’m a MinneesOta newcomer transplant) have their pet chickens and I’m jealous. So had to share your chicken house with them. Thanks for the laughs–that, along with gardening, is the best medicine!!

  7. Kathleen Aberley says:

    Gardening at the moment, is not therapeutic for me. My kids have a new puppy, and everything I planted, and I mean EVERYTHING, has been uprooted and chewed. Chewed. To. Bits. The irrigation system too.
    I am still too heart-sore to plant anything again, and have to figure out how to garden using sky-hooks / out of reach areas, away from the damn dog!
    Because of the above, I am a grumpy Granny, so yes, gardening is a natural form of Prozac. 🙂

  8. Paula says:

    Lol, this is so funny timing wise. I have been perusing veggie gardening photos & videos tonight and I have already purchased a book from Amazon called “Gardening Under Plastic” because I want to get started asap. I checked to make sure my order went through and in my inbox is your latest post!
    Definitely great for mental health; to this, I can attest.

  9. Suzanne says:

    You’ve inspired me to pull those weeds this weekend and give it a go one more time! Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hahah! Keep on top of it. And if you don’t pull the weeds BEFORE the flowers have formed and seeds have started to fall, you’re done for. It’s very important to pull them before they go to seed. ~ karen!

  10. Thandi says:

    https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm
    Science is actually on your side here. You’re playing with bacteria that actually makes you happier! It’s like magic, but cooler, because it’s science.

    • Lynn Johanson says:

      I was a big gardener. Outside with my cup of coffee first thing wandering through my plants, seeing what’s new and pulling weeds. Now I’m allergic (or sensitive) to the Seattle microbiome. I touch garden dirt, I swell. NO FUN!!!!!! I can plant in sterilized soil from the store and not swell but the biome is the biome and it doesn’t stay sterilized for long. Sigh.
      Maybe Costa Rica or Tahiti have different mini bugs? I figure anyone who hangs out with Karen is a genius, so any ideas out there? Please! I miss my happy place.

  11. Angela Nett says:

    I am VERY excited about the idea of a gardening workshop! I am a gardening fool (just got my baker creek envelope filled with smaller envelopes of pure joy) and I can’t wait to get my hands in the soil 😆 my hubs bought me a soil blocker for my bday. Do you have any experience with those?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela! I’m afraid I have no experience with the little soil blockers. I either make paper pots with a wine bottle, or just use regular plastic pots that I reuse year after year. ~ karen!

  12. Gayle M says:

    Yes, yes, Yes! Gardening is my therapy. I spent most of the day Thursday creating my summer gardening calendar (just have to type it into a format hubby can relate to…

    So, Karen, do you employ any of the gardening by the moon/zodiac or biodynamic gardening methods? I was going to try to step up to biodynamic, but that seems like a lot more work than just using moon phases and the Zodiac for garden chores. Hubby scoffed at me when I spoke of “weeding days”, but then he fell unwittingly into my trap to prove my point that weeds come out of the earth easier on “weeding days.” He’s a believer now–even asks me what day is best for mowing.

    Oh, the things we do to maintain sanity and order… Thanks for the uplifting summery post on this snowy day!

    • Karen says:

      Ha! I don’t use those methods so much but my gardening neighbour does. There’s truth to the moon phases (although it isn’t as important now). It has to do with the gravitational pull on water in the soil and was important when we didn’t have access to things like watering hoses. It seems like hokum but there’s definitely a science and reasoning behind the moon phase gardening. ~ karen!

    • Suzanne says:

      What constitutes a “weeding day”??? I have a bunch to do and would love to maximize my time and effort! Karen, don’t laugh…I’m still going to do it! Thanks!

      • Gayle says:

        My husband used to be skeptical…but we were pulling 18-24 inch quack grass roots with ease on weeding days. So… Gardening by the moon uses the gravitational pulls on the earth from the moon and the sun affecting the water table and soil. As the moon completes it’s cycle, it is passing through constellations (zodiac) in the sky, which also affects the earth and how plants grow. The waxing moon (from the new moon to the full moon) promotes above ground growth through the additional sunlight reflected from the sun at night. From the full moon to the new moon, the converse is true, affecting roots. When the moon is in the constellations Aries, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius or Aquarius (dry infertile signs) weeds will be easier to pull and eradicate; and, especially in a waning moon, they will not come back as quickly (less lightfor germination). I am in the process of getting my March through November garden calendar together (from the info in the Old Farmer’s Almanac) which outlines all the gardening data for the USA eastern time zone. Share your email? 😊

      • Gayle says:

        There are scientific studies substantiation the methods. I started with weeding to check the method out, and then moved into using th full method. Work with the rhythm of the earth, not against it.

  13. Lyn says:

    Gardening is my meditation. We have moved from NH to WA. Flowers are blooming now! WA has very moderate weather. End of February I can plant. So excited!

  14. Bambi Mayer says:

    I love gardening but mostly do it with containers. We are in the process of building a beautiful greenhouse using old, crank-style windows rescued from my husband’s grandparents home. I feel the therapeuticness every time I put my hands in the dirt.

    I have a question for you–have y’all (I’m from Texas) considered adding chickens to your community garden? Now that would be awesomely therapeutic!!

    • Karen says:

      I’m afraid they aren’t allowed in town. Also, the chickens eat everything, lol. ~ karen!

      • J. Tatum says:

        You should make them some chunnels! Tunnels for chickens! They allow you to funnel the chickens where you want them to go. Google taught me about them! My birds use them like freeways!

  15. Maura says:

    Long hikes in the woods is my therapy!

  16. I agree that gardening can be a therapy, but the same goes with taking care of pets. Anyway, I have always admired people who are able to take care of plants and keep them alive 🙂

  17. Sandi Remedios says:

    A gardening challenge would be AWESOME!!!!!!

  18. Amber says:

    Amen. I did a master’s thesis on therapeutic horticulture in prisons last year based on this premise.

  19. Elaine says:

    Petting a cat and listening to its purr is therapeutic to me but so is gardening. I loved and fully agree with you, Karen! I now live in a condo and while I don’t miss the “work” part of it (edging the beds, etc. due to back issues), I do miss planting annuals in the Spring or deadheading the perennials. An addition to a retirement building has now been completed across the road from me. It includes a nice garden with benches, etc. BUT also has raised planters for the residents’ use … for therapeutic reasons. So you were spot on, Karen! The planters were installed too late in the season last year but it will be interesting to observe how involved the residents become this year.

  20. Katie C. says:

    I didn’t realize how true this was until 2 years ago when I installed my backyard garden. Even when there isn’t anything to do out in the garden (but really how often does that happen) I like to just go out there and sit on the side of one of my raised beds and look at the garden. It’s amazingly relaxing.

  21. NinaMargo says:

    Spending the day enjoying a botanical garden or arboretum ie someone else’s gardening efforts is truly therapeutic for me. Growing basil for cooking or giving the jasmine enough water to bloom just about exhaust this lightweight’s efforts (and expertise…).

  22. Ann Larkin says:

    Karen
    I enjoy your posts. This one especially. Would it be OK to reproduce it in our Horticultural newsletter this spring?
    Ann

  23. Ev Wilcox says:

    Timing indeed! Last year I was all set to get a raised bed built within 40 ft or so from the house. Bought the lumber, knew the measurements of the box I wanted, and the location. Have a close water supply, even! My not so bright neighbors had cut down a beautiful tree (no one knows why), and my yard was flooded with a lot of never before seen sunlight.
    So, my youngest son was going to build the raised box, but the day of the build he was injured at work. So, no box. Just last weekend I mentioned the box and it is indeed on his list of things to be done. Yay! Many months later, the injured hand still bothers him but is much better now. So hopefully this year I can play in the dirt again and hope our two cats don’t view it as a new potty!

  24. Mike Flegle says:

    A beautiful post, in every way. Grow, Karen, grow!

  25. Julie says:

    My garden is out your way at my parents’ house. It’s so satisfying ripping out stuff and pruning and, of course, eating! It’s about time to check out the Vessey’s catalogue (why don’t they have a centerfold?)

  26. danni says:

    Itching to get out to the enclosed garden I build last summer. There is a designated “thinking chair” in the center that gets much use. I love nothing better than a hard days work in the sun then to sit back and just soak it in. For those times when I’ve really worked hard and earned it there is hammock time!
    FYI, the plant climbing the front doorway is the loofah I grew from the seeds I won. By the end of the summer it had grown up and over and then across the full expanse of trellis, and was actually growing around the sides! Over 30′ and just loaded with the most beautiful flowers all summer long.

  27. pat says:

    I’m one of the ones who can think of nothing but work when considering a garden, as a result I do pots of flowers and they give me pleasure. I love deadheading my geraniums. But for the real meditative – therapeutic stuff nothing beats a walk with the dog in our local ravine and baking a loaf of bread or a sheet of cookies.

  28. Jen Topp says:

    I ALWAYS tell people gardening is m therapy. While it doesn’t always get me out of my head so I’m not thinking about things that cause me anxiety (I take medication for it too), it makes me think about those things in a calmer way. Like, “yeah, that is worrisome and scary but wow look at how fuzzy these edamame pods are!”

    Fun fact: the IDEA of my garden before it would be in for the season used to cause me a ton of anxiety—I would worry that I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I wanted to that season or that things would just go wrong. And then I decided that that is the point of gardening. You can planplanplan but you also have to roll with it and learn from mistakes and change it up if something isn’t going well. You know, just like life. Thanks, garden!

  29. Kris says:

    Love this post, and the way you tried to explain why gardening is theuraputic. As usual, in a funny yet very meaningful way. On this wintery day, you’ve reminded me of kneeling in front of my lavender plants, hands in the soil. Lovely 💜

  30. Kole says:

    Absolutely, I garden with kids in schools and find Huge Huge differences in them. It addresses all sorts of mental health needs and after getting on for 2000+ I’ve yet to find 1 that didn’t get some benefit of diggin in the dirt

  31. Miriam says:

    I’m on the opposite side of this issue. For me, gardening is a combination of my three least favorite things: dirt, worms, and physical labour.
    Last year, I thought I would give it a try (primarily based on Karen’s rhapsodies). I had visions of floating through my yard in a diaphanous gown, picking my ripe vegetables, and wafting back into the house to dine on a beautiful salad. I planted spinach, cilantro, peppers, squash, zucchini and a variety of tomatoes. The spinach was eaten by bugs, the cilantro died, the peppers never grew, I had a single teeny squash, zero zucchinis and the tomatoes either never ripened or were half brown. I had a LOT of green tomatoes, which I pickled. I think this gardening thing, for me, is best left to the professionals. As for the gown, I think I might use it to scrub out the litter box.

    • Nicole says:

      Are you scrubbing the litterbox while wearing it or using the actual gown to do the scrubbing?

      I hear you on the visions of gardening not matching up with the reality. The first year I owned my own home, I had big plans and bought a lot of seeds. Didn’t make much progress in making it a reality as there was SO much to do I didn’t know where to start. Plus, as another poster mentioned: bugs. Ick ick ick.

  32. Sabina says:

    No joke, a dozen or so years ago gardening changed me for the better so much that my sister actually asked me if I’d been in therapy, lol! It absolutely is therapy for me. I was becoming so engrossed that I actually went back to school at age 40 to earn my ornamental horticulture certificate/associates degree. Of course that was an awful lot of time and money to learn that I wasn’t getting any younger and I really didn’t want to be laboring in other people’s gardens trying to pay my mortgage. I just wanted to labor in my garden so I could sit back and enjoy the view, and the tomatoes and the green beans and the swiss chard and the garlic and the……..

  33. Shane says:

    Hello all. I am not much on the veggie gardens, but give me a rose or some tulips or any kind of flowering plant and I am your guy. My wife has to really tighten the leash on me during the spring when the stores start putting out flowers. I have started planting banana trees and cannas around our above ground pool. It makes you feel good, you can stand back and say I did this. This spring I want to figure out how to grow an avocado tree here in Arkansas. Wish me luck.

  34. Kirsten Ilczyna says:

    I like gardening, but since I moved beside a pond, the snakes are deterring me form getting out there. I also find reading a great stress reliever. Probably the best though is reading a really difficult recipe and then spending the time to shop, prepare and execute it from start to finish on a lazy saturday. Very cathartic for me!

    • Karen says:

      I actually clicked over and immediate put it in a cart to buy it! But shipping cost more than the tee shirt. 🙁 It would have ended up costing me $65. Maybe I’ll make my own! ~ karen

  35. linda in illinois says:

    Amen to the therapy of gardening. I truly love it and would spend all day there. I have big ideas for my garden this year. I am ready for it to be spring. Your photos and stories give me so much joy. Thank you Karen, glad you are back.

  36. Paula says:

    I’ve always said gardening is my therapy too. I recently stumbled onto this article https://www.earthing.com/what-is-earthing/ What do you think? Hocus pocus or have we as gardeners stumbled onto something? If nothing else a good excuse to vacation someplace warm in the winter.

  37. SH says:

    And all that fresh air and vitamin D that was missing all winter. I need to get outside today.

  38. Laura Brown says:

    As much as I love gardens, I am not a good vegetable gardener. I have my tulips, hostas, some black eyed Susans and columbines. Working on a rockery with chicks and hens and creeping thyme etc. I do love digging in the dirt and weeding.
    The best therapy for me is music. At the end of a shitty day, I can put a record on and get lost in a song that takes me to a good memory.

  39. Alyssa says:

    I have a very small garden in pots and mini greenhouses in my concrete backyard. It is pretty therapeutic, until we have a 70 degree heat wave the first week of February and I forget about my green house because I’m laid up in bed sick and… all my lettuce gets cooked. Then I just am thankful it’s early enough to plant another batch of lettuce. So… therapy session, round 2?

  40. Kris says:

    Gardening is my solace and wonder…. I can recall as a child NEEDING that cool Venus fly trap at the grocery store… and an odd compulsion to foster my mothers dying creeping Charlie plant with those Plant food tabs. It’s manifested from there for over 40+ years…. gardening is just magical… take a seed add water and watch it grow … and combining my love of gardening with a real challenge has created fun moments like this…

  41. Heather says:

    Last year, I got a call from the city’s head arborist complimenting me on my front garden, because it’s filled with native plants. I’ve rescued most of them from building sites over the past 16 years, and they’ve completely taken over the lawn, so there’s hardly anything to maintain. Being a lazy gardener, I find that very satisfactory. I love the animals and insects that have followed the plants. Last year, we had a 5 lined skink, Ontario’s only native lizard, living in a pot at the end of the front walk. I hope he’s back this year! Can’t wait for Spring. Your garden inspired me to grow veggies last year, and the whole family loved it. Thanks, Karen! 🙂

  42. Megan Bell says:

    I live in a place that I can’t dig into the dirt. So last year I bought 4 rolling hydroponic planters and 2 smaller planters. I grew 2 types of tomatoes, 6 pepper plants, basil, mint, and chives. I didn’t use most of the herbs and they over grew the pots quickly. I did use most of the tomatoes, but I had way too many peppers. I was trying to think of some other things I could grow in the planters that would work – maybe green beans. Any suggestions?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Megan! You can grow almost anything in containers. Honestly. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, green beans (Mascotte is a good very small growth habit variety), garlic, carrots, beets … you name it. ~ karen!

  43. Nichole says:

    It’s certainly therapy! But then again, when you have to text HELO to your daughter to ask her to help you refrain from buying MORE roses, or bargain plants, or seeds, or bulbs (my latest trip to Costco was a total fail…6 bags of summer bulbs I really don’t need) what to do? I have zero control. New house last yr gave me an excuse to go bat shit…but really…do you think 52 varieties of tomato seeds are enough to try this yr? Then to top it off I worked as a merchandiser at the local Lowes garden center last yr. so had to buy all those shrubs. Karen, I see now that the therapy is part of a cycle bordering on addiction for me. LOL . At least is a beautiful cycle!!! Love your garden girl, i dream of taming mine and organizing one day. Until then….it’s unbridled excess! PS, tackling starting Lisanthus from seed this yr. 13 varieties…

  44. Jane C. says:

    When I was still living with my parents, I would often come home from work and head out to the garden to pull weeds for half an hour. That would get rid of all the stress from my workday (and there was often a lot). Years later I suffered from severe depression but kept up my small flower border at my own house, and a few veggies in the neighbour’s yard. It truly was therapy. A few years later, now in another house with a huge yard, I was still severely depressed, but created flower beds because I needed to have them. I now have nine flower beds of various sizes, and a small vegetable garden. I still struggle with a low-grade depression in the winter when I can’t get outside. I read somewhere that gardening is beneficial because it’s always a positive experience; one does not go out to the garden with the intention of doing harm. Even weeding, pruning and deadheading are done for the benefit of the garden. People ask me why I don’t move into a condo. Because then I couldn’t have gardens, that’s why!!

  45. Emily says:

    I love your insight into why nature calms us! I am an artist and a lot of my work deals with exploring nature and facing the unknown, so this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, but I hadn’t come up with this perspective. It’s funny because loss of control sounds stressful, but I think you are right on!

  46. Lauren says:

    YES!! Gardening is absolutely therapy for me, too. Even later this month when I get to thinking about seedlings; even though they’ll start indoors, I love coming home after work and checking on my little plant babies! I completely feel ya- gardening is an instant calming force.

    I’d even add a point about veg and herb gardening- when you harvest tomatoes and basil for your first caprese salad, talk about a sense validation and accomplishment!! It’s like a little garden of goodness chanting “Hey, look at you there, you grew us!! We are healthy and soooo delicious! You are awesome!!”

  47. Lisa G says:

    PREACH, sister. I handle my mental health solutions like I handle feminine products on a bad day: I double up. Garden AND therapist. And I end up talking to my therapist about my garden and that seems to calm her, too. She needs that after I’ve dumped on her about work for 40 minutes.

  48. Kay Kay from Sequim says:

    Saw your article in the Lee Valley Newsletter. You listed djuna zucchini as your choice for zucchini planting. I tested that variety and two others in my community garden last year. I would recommend Mutabile from adaptiveseeds.com. It far outperformed the others in powdery mildew resistance and was tops in flavor, too. Community gardening is my therapy, too.

  49. Grammy says:

    I’ve always said my garden was my therapy, too. Back when I was starting out in a “blended family” — newlyweds who both brought exes and kids to the marriage just to make sure there would be added stress to the arrangement — it most likely quite literally saved all our lives. I was working 40 hours a week, commuting about 8 hours more, and came home each evening to children and spouse who for some reason looked at me like I was supposed to feed them.

    I started the vegetable garden for three reasons: because I’d always wanted one, because money was tight and it would help feed all those hungry mouths if I could grow some food, and because it was the only place on earth where everyone left me alone for a bit, lest they be asked to help. Throughout those lovely adolescent years that came later, it was downright critical to keep me from strangling one or more of them a number of times.

    The smell of damp soil is the most relaxing scent ever. Getting down on my knees to inspect seedlings, catch weeds before they got a chance to do me harm, deal with bugs (usually by leaving them alone and making notes) and harvest whatever there was to include with the dinner I would make an hour later, I shed all the stress of the workday and actually felt like smiling at my new brood when I entered the kitchen.

    Now that the youngest is almost fifty and I’m just growing for two of us mostly, I’ve reduced the size of the garden, but it still has the same effect on my well-being. I credit having the garden with allowing our blended family to still be happy to be together after more than 40 years.

    Sorry, Karen. You got me all nostalgic with your beautiful post and I rambled on again.

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The Art of Doing Stuff