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Earth Day Love: Gardening for Body & Soul

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“Eww, you want me to weed?”

“I’m hot and sweaty – yuck!”

“A BUG! Kill it, quick!”

How my whiny teenage utterances haunt me, when I think of my former hatred of gardening.

Worse of all, when it came to eating my grandfather’s bountiful kale and kohlrabi or the glorious red beets grown by my parents, despite a lack of work, my fork was always the first poised to attack.

Since growing food flows in my DNA, I eventually dabbled with container gardening while living in apartments.

However, breaking up solid ground with a hoe with the intent to sow it with seeds did not occur until unemployment, without insurance, threatened my ability to eat healthy.

Now a few years later, my garden has grown in diversity from its first harvest of Swiss chard and lettuce, tomatoes and spaghetti squash.

It has expanded over the subsequent seasons to include kale and fennel, carrots, varied lettuces and beets.  Success with summer squash and eggplant overcame failure from carrots and peas. This year Asian vegetables, bok choy and edamame, daikon and lemon grass are already in the ground, or containers, bound for summer stir-fries.

Flavor enhancing herbs such as rosemary and mint thrive in my Northern California backyard as does sage and basil, oregano, thyme and lemon balm.

I am also fortunate that a peach, apricot and orange tree grow in the backyard. This gives me delicious fruit to eat when naturally ripe or stewed and dried after their seasons have passed.  Dolmas are made from a wild grapevine growing along the side fence.

Gardening has other benefits no Burpees’ seed packet details.

Forget about puttering in my garden, I get a real workout, especially in the early spring and late fall.

With shears in my hands, my upper arms receive great exercise as I cut back tree limbs and dead grape vines.  The ground is mostly clay. Readying it for planting comes from hours of hoeing it into submission while my core and back muscles get stronger.

The exertion expended from lifting bags of manure and mulch, digging holes and bending over to stick seedlings in dirt, pick off snails or pull weeds benefit almost my entire body from shoulders to quads and firm up my butt.

Perhaps, the best part is the positive aspects gardening brings to my life.

Surrounded by nature, outside stretches or a full tai chi workout bring a greater sense of well-being.  Peaceful co-existence occurs between a resident family of feral cats, three crazy squirrels and birds, including hummingbirds, add to the good mood enhancement.

What having a garden offers, besides fresh food 24/7, is an important life lesson especially applicable to a weight loss warrior.

With hope, you plant the seeds of a new life, and work to achieve it.  Despite the effort, failure can occur.  The real test of perseverance, culminating in success, comes when the next day you plant new seeds and start again.

Plant some seeds today.

Interested in container gardens?  Check out this awesome article.

 

About LJ Bottjer

LJ Bottjer is a citizen of the world, whose journey began in Manhattan. Now living in Northern California, her garden produces healthy food almost year-round and she enjoys biking, yoga and hiking. www.words4sail.com
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