I Get High with a Little Help from My Garden

squash-blossomAfter a few years of enthusiastically growing organic food in the small area that’s available to me, I discovered the key to why I am obsessed with gardening. No, it’s not my genes, even though my florist mother was widely envied for her huge collection of prize Dahlia bulbs – and my Dad grew some gorgeous roses. It’s not even because I earth for hours on end by gardening barefoot… Well, mostly – except when I have to push a shovel into the ground!

I already knew that gardening provides many benefits for my health, in addition to the nutrient-dense food I grow. There’s the fresh air and the exercise. Not to mention the relaxation, as documented by the Women in Balance Institute: “Research shows that the effects on the mind are similar to meditation; including calm and relaxation. Even just gazing at pictures of nature has been shown to decrease stress levels…” But that’s not the key, either. As someone who follows my bliss, I don’t experience too much stress.

What I discovered through a little research is that gardening literally stimulates my hormones – and I mean the most pleasurable ones. Planting and working in the soil increase serotonin levels, and the act of harvesting releases dopamine. This explained a lot for me. I have always felt like I am on top of the world when my hands are in the soil. And, unlike prescription medications, the only side effect is my chronically dirty fingernails.

Each year I nibble another few inches, or even a foot, from the lawn of my rental property’s yard to expand the cultivated garden area. I grow cukes and zukes and a variety of squashes. Since they take up a lot of room, I let them spill out into the meadow behind the building. Before mealtime I harvest my salad and the raw ingredients for a main dish straight from my own little patch of heaven. I irrigate with structured water, and I think that’s part of the reason why I always have enough organic produce to share with my friends and neighbors. And sharing the harvest is yet another source of deep pleasure that I get from my garden.

Thanks to Shira Nahari for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We have over $2,097 in prizes lined up for the Fall 2015 Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

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