Health Benefits of Gardening Part 2

*By Cindy Dixon

In Part 1 of “Health Benefits of Gardening”, we discussed some of the ways gardening benefits our overall health. Many people garden with the idea of “diagnose and conquer” looking at specific details instead of the garden as a whole. (i.e. “How do I get rid of the ants in my garden?”).   What if we think of a garden, not as a collection of parts, but a complex living system, similar to the human body? This garden paradigm shift helps to establish and maintain a healthy balance and wellness for you, your family, and subsequently your community.

This sounds like a tall order! Remember the old adage, ‘the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step.’

Let’s explore some of the simple steps to creating a healthy space for you, your family, and your community. Start by building vibrant, fertile soil. Below are some simple steps to get you started on your journey:

1. Add organic matter: Composted organic matter provides a balanced diet of nutrients for your soil and, in turn, your plants.

2. Plant cover crops: The main purpose of this ‘living mulch’ is to build soil fertility. Cover crops (i.e. clover, peas, ryegrass, etc.) also help to improve soil structure, promote water infiltration, reduce erosion, and lessen pest/disease outbreaks. WOW!! Now that’s a crop that packs a punch!!

3. Incorporate the “No-till’ method: In essence, this means growing your garden with the least amount of soil disturbance. This type of gardening preserves the health of the soil and its organisms. Cultivation and planting, for the most part, is done by hand or with the use of small hand tools. This method also keeps the roots of harvested plants in the soil; keeping the nutrients in the soil and soil organisms ‘fat and happy’!

4. Rotate crops: Growing different types of crops in an area, helps maintain soil fertility, restore soil nutrients, and reduces the possibility of pests and disease. And if that isn’t enough, crop rotation helps to increase crop yield. More bang for your bounty! Agriscaping has a simple approach to crop rotation: ROOT – FRUIT – BEAN – GREEN

5. Plant perennials: Adding a variety of perennials (those plants that grow more than 2 seasons) help to improve soil quality. Once established, perennials are relatively low maintenance. I like to think of these plants as the “anchors” of your garden; those you can rely upon throughout the seasons. Annuals can be added at different times of the year for those ‘pops’ of extra color and harvest.

6. Companion planting: Groupings of plants that complement each other are known as companion planting. These plants, in general, have different sun, nutrient, and space requirements. They make for good neighbors since they are unlikely to compete for resources. A prime example of companion planting is the “3 Sisters” method of planting. (*) Agriscaping can assist with this concept with the implementation of microclimates. Using companion plantings also helps deter pests. Herbs are one example. The strong taste and odor of herbs help to keep many of those nibbling pests away from your crops.

In conclusion, start with a solid foundation. Nourish with rich nutrient- dense food. Regularly tend with gentleness/kindness. Appreciate the dependable elements in your life by relying on their wisdom and expertise. Be open to adventure; try new things to spice things up. Honor the different seasons and stages of life. Collaborate with others; each one has something positive to offer. Acknowledge the beauty. Be productive and share your bounty. ENJOY AND HAVE FUN!!


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**You can find out more about Cindy Dixon at .