Gardening is a great way to connect with nature and to unwind and relax. It can also be enjoyed alone or with family. Research shows that gardening eases stress, keeps you limber, improves your mood and burns calories.
A lot of my time as a child was spent with family in the vegetable garden was part of our daily routine, as most of supper came from the garden. I also learned about roses from my grandmother when we worked together in the garden. Today — with our busy lives — I am much more aware of all of the benefits of gardening and I realize that the days when I can be outside, even for just an hour or two, hold great value and allow time to unwind.
>> Gardening is good exercise
It provides both aerobic and cardio workouts.
Studies show that an hour of moderate gardening burns 300 to 400 calories and reduces osteoporosis, especially among women. Gardening in South Texas is best done during early morning or evening hours to avoid the heat.
Be smart and wear gloves, a hat and bug repellent.
Plan your garden projects and do not try to tackle too much at one time. I use to tell my students to think of your yard as a series of “living rooms” and work in one “living room” at a time to avoid being overwhelmed.
Remember, this is fun exercise.
>> Garden to learn.
Gardeners enjoy learning about plants and the insects or diseases that challenge them and those that protect them. There is great fun in learning about the life in your garden and sharing that with others, especially with children. It is easy to find resources for information at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu. From this site, you have choices of vegetable gardening, fruit and nut information, landscaping, small acreage farm production, the Jr. Master Gardener program for youth, teachers, camp instructors and parents. Any of these choices leads to numerous resources.
>> Garden to add beauty
Herbs can add freshness to the kitchen and flavor and beauty to your cooking. Fresh flowers brighten a room for several days. Dill and fennel can be used like fern in flower arrangements, or grow them to support the baby butterflies in the garden.
Vegetable gardens can be inviting and fruit trees offer a fragrant array of blossoms. No matter if it is the beauty of the plants, or the wildlife they support, gar-dens add beauty to our world.
>> Garden for variety and freshness
Doctors and health educators stress the need to add fresh vegetables to our diet and there is no better way to do that than to grow some of your own vegetables, fruits or herbs. The great variety of vegetables available today from seed companies can be a fun taste adventure to be en-joyed with your entire family and a good way to introduce vegetables to children. Children enjoy watching vegetables and fruits grow and wonder about their taste, especially when they are part of the gardening experience.
Take time to garden in order to bring variety to your diet, beauty to your home, health to your body and mind. You can also have a great time learning and sharing your gardening adventures with family and friends.
For those who enjoy freshly harvested vegetables, fruits and herbs, the Growing Growers Farmers Market, located on the corner of 1st Street and Business 83 in McAllen, is open from 9 a.m. to noon today. The market has a wide variety of locally grown produce, grass fed beef, raw local honey, eggs, and fresh baked bread and gluten-free bakery products, along with locally made natural skin care products. Master Gardeners are on hand to answer your gardening questions and to provide information on their classes.
Barbara Storz is a local horticulturist. You can listen to her radio show at 7 a.m. Saturdays on 710 KURV, or e-mail her at bstorz@rcommunications. com.