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The Summer Saga – Reflections on a Hobby

When Clint Eastwood, the movie actor, was asked what he was going to do on his 88’th birthday, he said, “I’m going to shoot a movie.” His friend asked why at his age. Clint Eastwood stated, “I get up every morning and don’t let the old man in!” (Bing.com/video – Lone Wolf Video). So, I don’t, I don’t let the old man in; I have too many plans for next year.

As I was gardening, I was reflecting on why I garden. I came up with many reasons, some logical, some not so logical. Maybe it was a habit; I have gardened since I was a child. But, after I retired, I still wanted to be active, doing something I liked. Why not gardening?

I found the physical and mental activity was good for my health. I did some research and found that many people die shortly after they retire. Could the physical and mental stimulation of a hobby be an important factor? Research indicates that intellectual challenge and mental satisfaction affect how long you live. In my case, the challenge of growing bigger and better vegetables fits the bill for me. While my hobby is gardening, any hobby will do.

Gardening is a 10-month activity, from January’s planning to November’s clean-up. Always something to do. But, if you are organized and don’t wait too long, gardening is a relaxing activity. Time to seed, time to weed, time to stroll, time to pick, and time to enjoy.

Each January and February, as I reflect on last year and consult my log, I plan to improve. Sometimes this involves repairs to one of my raised beds, sometimes it is a change in a seed variety, sometimes it is discovering a new variety. This year, for the first time, I grew a small bush type of winter squash called Golden Nugget with great success. Each year I have determined or discovered that certain plants, vegetables or flowers, do not grow in the locations I had chosen. So, I move the perennials or do not plant seeds in unsatisfactory locations.

This year, I focussed on succession planting. Short rows of lettuce planted every three weeks. Peas were planted in early May and early June. As usual, I had too much lettuce for salads, so I made lettuce soup. Quite tasty. Well not as good as my other soups. You can find a recipe on the internet.

This year, I learned what the extreme temperature in the first heat wave did to my garden. Raspberries were small and deformed with few pickable berries, tomatoes stopped setting during the heat, saskatoons were few and small and pea production was low. Potato yield was about 35% of previous years; I should have watered more. Squash, zucchini, tomatoes, pole beans, cabbage, and turnip yielded well; I had inserted cans with holes in the bottom near each plant and watered each root every couple of days.

Research https://www.healthline.com/health/healthful-benefits-of-gardening, has identified many reasons to garden. Outdoor gardening can help your body fight disease and promotes general health in many ways.

  1. Sunlight creates vitamin D on your skin. Vitamin D is essential in strengthening your bones and your immune system. It also lowers your risk of breast, colorectal, bladder, and prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions.
  2. Gardening builds strength and helps to offset age-related weight gain and maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Digging, raking, planting, weeding, and cutting grass is exercise; in fact, a gardener uses every major muscle group.
  4. People who garden are more likely to get a solid 7 hours of sleep at night.
  5. Doctors agree that gardening provides sensory stimulation as well as physical exercise, both of which can help protect memory as you get older.
  6. Working in a garden can help you to recuperate if you’ve experienced something stressful.

My next article will talk about gardening and the environment.

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