(ARA) - While some people see gardening as simply playing in the dirt, the physical and mental benefits are well-documented. In addition to being good for your mind and body, sustainable gardening is a great way to be kind to the planet, and to connect you to nature and the food you eat.
Gardening is Good for You
* Being active in the garden increases your connection to nature and gets you up off the sofa. Remember, weeds won't wait.
* Growing a garden takes patience, follow-through and problem-solving skills, making it a great activity for the entire family.
* Gardening helps increase endurance and physical strength, and improves coordination, balance and agility. Working in the garden strengthens muscles, improves blood flow and releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers.
* Activities like pushing a wheelbarrow and carrying plants help to strengthen your heart and bones.
* Life can be stressful. Time in the garden can be meditative and calming. Research has shown that people who interact with plants recover more quickly from stress and fatigue.
* Growing plants -- especially fruits, vegetables, herbs and other edibles -- gives a sense of accomplishment and improves nutrition. You're more likely to eat healthy foods you've grown and prepared yourself. If you're growing fruits and vegetables, make sure to grow a little more than you need and take the GroGood pledge to donate the extra harvest to your local food agency. Gardening is good for your health and giving is too.
Gardening is Good for the Earth
* Test your soil to find out the pH and how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium it contains, and then use a fertilizer that contains the right nutrients for your soil type. Always be sure to sweep any loose fertilizer off sidewalks or driveways to prevent runoff.
* Keep an eye on your plants and pay attention to the bugs that you find. Not all bugs are pests. Some, like lady-bugs, are actually beneficial and eat the insects that would otherwise harm your garden.
* Many regions of the country experience droughts and water usage restrictions during the summer months. Use a rain barrel to collect water from the roof and gutters and you'll have a ready supply of water.
* Pull weeds by hand as soon as you see them to eliminate the competition for space and water.
For additional information on the GroGood pledge, edible gardening resources or how to locate a local food agency that accepts fresh produce, please visit www.GroGood.com. Courtesy of ARAcontent