When we were kids, many of us sat looking at a plateful of vegetables at the dinner table and were told eat your vegetables, they are good for you. Turns out, they are – and not only for your health.
More than just good for you, eating vegetables has a positive effect on happiness. That is what a recent survey by USDA revealed. Scientists at USDA’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center report that consuming the daily amount of vegetable servings recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has a positive effect on how happy a person feels (ARS March 27, 2023). Eat your vegetables!
Growing a personal supply of vegetables increases the probability that nutritious vegetables become the norm in the diet. Adding a few servings to our daily diet is a big step toward adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Even better than meeting the daily dietary guideline, satisfaction soars when growing and harvesting homegrown crops.
What are some reasons that growing a vegetable garden make us happy?
· Satisfaction. Satisfaction soars when we grow our own vegetables. We have accomplished nurturing something that depended on us for its existence. Vegetable crops can be as small as balcony container gardens, a patio with several pots, or well-planned garden plots. The plant doesn’t matter – a thriving crop of plump tomatoes, eggplants, a shiny zucchini or green okra pod that we have grown fills us with pride. Harvesting a crop for a healthy salad is a healthy reward for our time invested in growing the plant.
· Connecting with nature. It is humbling to have planted something as small as a seed, cared for it and then watched as an incredible design unfolds. Leaves, stems, fruit form from unseen tissues. Growth is magical to watch causing us to take attentive measures to tend the developing plants.
· Lifestyle. Gardening is one of the most popular hobbies. It can be enjoyed by any age, from young children excited to harvest their first radishes or mature folks who get around with canes or wheelchairs as they enjoy puttering with their plants. Working with plants is relaxing yet keeps our minds active. Gardening is a preferred method of staying active, where one can get outside and not stuck on a machine in a gym. Because plants are complex organisms there are certain levels of skill that are required to raise a successful crop. Everyday skills improve when handling tools that boost dexterity, and problem solving cultivates resourcefulness.
· Gardening expresses our creative side. Exploring new cultivars, juggling planting dates, crops, and trying usual crops.
· Socializing. Plant lovers with shared passions of growing plants are always eager to meet other plant lovers. The Lubbock Memorial Arboretum, 4111 University Ave., Lubbock, has second Saturday educational programs as one of those opportunities. Arboretum volunteers are never turned away; call (806) 797-4520.
Get happy. Grow a garden.
Ellen Peffley taught horticulture at the college level for 28 years, 25 of those at Texas Tech, during which time she developed two onion varieties. She is now the sole proprietor of From the Garden, a market garden farmette. You can email her at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Gardening for You: Be happy: Grow a garden