If you’re like me your annual interest in gardening just kicked back in. I’m not a gardener… I don’t pour over seed catalogs in the winter, I don’t draw out maps of what my garden should look like or put too much thought into what varietals I want to plant each spring. But when my friends start talking about their garden, posting pictures of early blooms and cursing about the vicious bunnies who eat their new buds…. Well, I get FOMO (fear of missing out).
A couple weeks ago that FOMO feeling settled in and I started talking to my partner about what we should do with our front yard. I’ve long lobbied to pull the grass up and make it something pretty. Some friends have done a lot of research into pollinator gardens and I absorbed some of that knowledge through conversations with them. Suddenly we seemed to be in agreement on what to do, and poof – the grass was gone. Just kidding… it was hours of hard work, all of which was blissfully done by my partner.
It seems I’m not alone in getting the garden bug around this time of year. The National Garden Clubs, Inc. has designated the first full week of June as “National Garden Week” and The National Wildlife Federation has declared June to be National Pollinators Month. Noting that pollinators are crucial in supporting our food ecosystem, the National Wildlife Federation notes that pollinators are responsible for 1 of every 3 bites of fruits and vegetables we consume!
Thinking beyond fresh food consumption, gardening itself can offer a lot of health benefits. National Day Calendar recognizes June 6 as National Gardening Exercise Day, and says gardening is not just therapeutic but also builds muscles. Activities such as weeding, planting, pruning, and mowing offer natural forms of exercise and strength building, along with stretching and flexibility. Exposure to sunlight and fresh air also offer health benefits by increasing our Vitamin D and boosting our immune systems.
National Calendar Day also recognizes June 13 as National Weed Your Garden Day. This day, they say, is intended to remind gardeners to take an extra 5 or 10 minutes to weed the garden(s). My informal survey of gardening spouse and friends reveals that weeding is not considered a fun activity, but it does provide a chance for lots of good movement with all of the stretching and bending involved.
While National Calendar Day isn’t able to provide the origins for either weeding day or gardening exercise day they do offer some reasonable sounding suggestions for getting started and managing this type of movement (https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-gardening-exercise-day-june-6/):
1. Start slowly. Just like any new workout program, small steps.
2. Use the right and left hands equally. When raking or shoveling, switch hands every 5-10 minutes to give each side a good workout.
3. Make sure to breathe. Deep, cleansing breaths bring oxygen to those working muscles.
4. Lift with your legs! When lifting, bend your knees. Don’t lift with your back.
5. Drink plenty of water.
6. Enjoy your garden. Visit it often!
Specific to weeding they add the following tips (https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-weed-your-garden-day-june-13/):
1. Committing to regular weeding to reduce weed growth.
2. Weeding after a good rainfall while the soil is soft makes it easier to clean by the roots.
3. Weeding your garden with a friend to makes the job go faster and feel more like a celebration!
4. Rewarding yourself with tall glass of something iced and refreshing as you admire your weed-free garden.
How about you – have you been bitten by the garden bug or are you just enjoying your neighborhood blooms?
Amy Smith is a professor of Media & Communication and a communication consultant who lives north of Boston. Her research interests include gender communication and community building. Amy spends her movement time riding the basement bicycle to nowhere, walking her two dogs, and waiting for it to get warm enough for outdoor swimming in New England.