Well, there’s one activity you don’t have to avoid, and it will make you feel—dare we say it? Really good!
The simple act of gardening is the hug we all need. That’s because flower and vegetable garden beds welcome your caring hands. In fact, digging in the dirt has been proven to be good for your mental health.
What’s more, while you’re lovin’ on the earth and yourself, you’re still practicing social distancing in a way that keeps you connected to others.
- Saying hello to dog walkers and strolling neighbors at a safe distance
- Taking pictures and sending to your children or grandchildren of your gardening endeavors
- Recording a short e-learning video of all the little creatures that have overwintered and sending them to children or grandchildren
And what will you have when all this craziness is behind us? A stunning summer garden!
Why Playing in the Dirt Can Make You Happy
Since most of us spend a good deal of time in homes or offices, breathing in, playing in, and digging in the dirt exposes us to a harmless, yet very important bacterium called M. vaccae. This microscope love boat activates brain neurons responsible for producing serotonin—the happy neurotransmitter.
We’ll take a heaping helping, please!
I guess that’s why gardening is my happy place, a mood lifter, and a stress reducer. I can’t wait for early Spring! It’s the perfect time for planting spring vegetables and flower seeds.
But I also want to do it so that it’s not overwhelming.
That’s why I make a list of my gardening projects and do a little every day. I get the satisfaction of communing with Mother Nature as well as a huge sense of accomplishment.
My 6 Garden “Feel Good” Clean Up Campaigns
We all need as many good vibes as possible right now. So grab those garden gloves and work up some happy in your “room without a roof,” as Pharrell Williams would say.
As a Virginia Master Gardener, it’s my pleasure to give you my 6 garden “feel good” campaigns. I do them in planned stages so that I keep the freshness and excitement going. These six are my recommendations for having a stellar summer garden, flower or vegetable.
1) Clear overwintered leaves and debris from your gardening beds.
Winter leaves behind all sorts of a mess in our gardening beds. Before you do anything else, schedule some time to clear away the debris. While working, do take a quick look at your perennials to see how they’re doing. How many are coming up?
Bonus: Get plenty of satisfaction on a job well done!
2) Plant spring veggies.
Get your peas, radishes, spinach, and other lettuces planted. They come up fast and
you will be eating the rewards of your work before you know it!
Our gardening tip: Plant Swiss chard, lemon balm, edible flowers, and other herbs in your Spring container pots. They add great color and filler.
Gardening Bonus: As you cut them back, enjoy them in your meals. We do this all of the time at the Inn breakfast table as an edible garnish.
3) Spring weeding and clean up.
Wow, this season our weeds are VERY healthy! Chickweed, in particular, seems to have come back tenfold. This can sometimes be the most daunting garden task. Take on one gardening bed at a time. Watch your sense of accomplishment grow with each weed-free bed!
And, here’s a great job for some of those teenagers out of school. They can use a little extra cash and you can still follow #socialdistancing AND get their help.
We actually made a game of it with our young neighbor kids, picking up magnolia pods and leaves. They were thrilled for something to do and grinned from ear to ear with the treats and money they earned.
Gardens really look rough in the early Spring from all of the branches and sticks from
last year’s perennial growth.
Go through your flower beds and cut back excess dead debris. This is one of our most favorite projects because you immediately see the fruits of your labor.
5) Divide Perennials and SHARE!
Spring is a great time to get out and thin your perennials. Plants like Hostas, Liriope, coneflowers, and more are easily divided and SHARED!
At the Inn, one of our favorites to share is the Mexican Petunia. It delivers a beautiful purple bloom daily from June to November and is one of THE best pollinators!
This is one thing during COVID 19 that is good to share! Pot them with identifying labels. Then put them out for neighbors to come by and take home to their gardens.
6) Top dress your garden beds. This is the time to add compost and other soil amendments to your garden beds, ultimately preparing them for your final dress of mulch later in Spring.
Well, that’s how I get my very healthy dose of M. vaccae. What about you? I’d love to hear what gardens you’re growing. Got questions about growing a healthy garden? Shoot me an email. Take advantage of my Master Gardener expertise. I’d be delighted to give you some tips!
Make your reservations for the summer or fall NOW so you don’t miss our garden, and bring pictures of yours to share! We promise to send you home with something from our flower collection.