The National Careline Blog
The benefits to your mental and physical health from Gardening
04 November 2020
If you were to carry out a poll of the most popular pastimes carried out by people in their spare time in the UK today, gardening would almost certainly rank at the top or very close to it and it is not hard to see why, as it is a very popular activity that brings many benefits to so many people from all walks of life, young or old.
Gardening appeals to all ages and abilities and it encourages people to get outside in the open air, soaking up the sunshine in summer and replenishing their levels of Vitamin D for free. This is an important point as very many people are deficient in Vitamin D in this country and need to take tablets to boost their levels to remain healthy.
There are so many types of gardening that it is almost impossible not to find an area that holds your interest, and if you tire of one, you can always try another.
Save money and eat healthier food
The reasons people take up gardening are quite diverse, for some, growing some of their own food and saving on their food bill is the main driver, for others, it can be producing cut flowers whilst others produce specialist items like succulents and cacti. For a great many, it stems from ethical concerns, reconnecting with nature, growing and eating seasonal foods to cut down on air miles that matters most.
If you have a greenhouse of cold frame, planting plants under cover to provide salad greens through winter when they are more expensive is well worthwhile.
Reducing loneliness – caring and sharing
The ability to get out into the garden or down to the allotment has been a mental and physical lifeline for many people during the current days of Covid 19. Now as we approach winter with another lockdown on the way, there are many jobs in and out of the garden that can be done at this time of year.
If you don’t have a garden, you could always apply for allotment, or if you have a friend or neighbour that has a garden but isn’t fit enough to cultivate it, why not offer to tend it and share the produce between you, that way you both get the benefits of healthy food.
Wildlife to enjoy
When you are gardening you see and hear the rich abundance of wildlife around you. You could also set up a feeding station as the small birds like long tailed tits need to eat often or they will perish, due to their small size. So, you can really make a difference to their survival.
Robins are lovely company, they often come quite near to you looking to see if you have uncovered some tasty food for them. Listening to the birdsong in the garden or on an allotment is a pleasure at any time of the year but especially during these trying days of restrictions and periods of lockdown.
Waiting lists for allotments can be quite long but some groups split plots so that more people can have the chance of trying it out and the cost of an allotment will not break the bank.
People are very friendly, you only have to look at the various allotment groups to see the caring and sharing of knowledge and produce that happens between fellow gardeners whether on an allotment or in people’s back gardens – always remembering to practise social distancing at the moment.
The exercise helps people to control their weight and to get and keep fit. Both have beneficial effects on blood pressure. What you produce tastes better than bought stuff and there is a certain amount of pride in knowing that it is something that you have grown from a seed to harvest.
There are not many hobbies that have so many variations and even if you have health problems there will always be a version of gardening that you can adapt to suit you. Salads will grow just as well in raised beds or window boxes.
We all need something to look forward to and the garden provides this at all times of the year. Now, with the harvest cleared, the vegetable garden soil is resting. I have given it a good feed of compost so that the worms can do their work taking the goodness of the compost down into the soil, (they are much better at digging that I am).
There is nothing nicer on a winter’s day than poring over the seed catalogues with a cuppa and choosing which varieties of plants you are going to plant next Spring so that you can order the seed ready for Spring to come and the season to begin again.
Prior to lockdown and social distancing, a highlight at the end of the season was the produce shows with hotly contested classes for whose onions are the largest, the longest runner beans, best leeks and nicest potatoes and so on. Hopefully, when this pandemic is under control and the world has a vaccine, these entertaining contests will return.