Why gardening makes you HAPPIER — get out into nature and get your hands in the soil

Been thinking about happiness and depression since Robin Williams passed away a week ago.  Depression is such a complex condition — so insidious, so difficult to cure. And so many questions come to mind:

  • what factors contribute to depression? According to the Mayo Clinic: genetics, a body’s hormonal imbalance, brain chemistry and biology, medications, and life events all play a part.
  • how to differentiate between the blues, feeling down and severe clinical depression? (Haven’t you seen those TV commercials for antidepressants–for example, remember the one with that sad looking cloud blob?) The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) details different forms of depression ranging from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to Major depression.

Some try to self-medicate with food, alcohol or drugs. I even blogged about the prescribing of anti-depressants in America back in 2011 –  click here.

So what do you do to find happiness? Turn to the arts–music, dance, literature, film, television, etc.– (see our reference list below for happy ideas) or sports or other activities? happy face

There’s a healthy activity that may not occur to some people…gardening.

♦ The Daily Mail (UK) tells us that gardening can ward off depression, improve your mood and make you feel life is more worthwhile. The article cites scientific research indicating ‘engagement with green places is good for personal health’ and that ‘short-term mental health improvements are protective of long-term health benefits.’

♦ A recent article from Greatist discussed ways of improving your life, how to be happy and an important method is to:

Spend time outside – this also provides opportunity to get some sun & vitamin D. Low levels of this vitamin has been associated with depression. Gardening helps you to get in touch with nature and unplug yourself from

♦ The Therapeutic Landscapes Network blog posted about the research done in the UK on a harmless bacteria found in soil — Mycobacterium vaccae — and its effect on seratonin which elevates mood and decreases anxiety.  Read more about this research in the Cosmos Magazine article: How gardening could cure depression

Of course, this isn’t an absolute guarantee that gardening will cure depression. (And experienced gardeners know all too well the disappointments that often occur when pests, plant disease, inclement weather or having a black thumb get the better of our crops.)

Marla harvest1However, the popularity of gardening shows that so many Americans enjoy the experience and the sense of achievement. Find your bliss, cultivate happiness.

 Let us be grateful to people who make us happy,
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
~Marcel Proust


Billboard.com — Top 20 ‘Happy’ Songs of All Time

HuffingtonPost.com — 17 Movie Music Scenes That’ll Make You Dance, Sing And Upload It To YouTube Right Now


Related Gro-O blog posts:

Even busy moms are growing organic vegetables (and you can do it, too)

Working moms have so many daily issues and crises to deal with, not the least of which is feeding their children the healthiest and freshest vegetables.

Collages3A great way to have pesticide-free, organic vegetables is to grow your own organic vegetable garden in your own backyard*. We have installed many raised planter gardens for moms who want to teach their children the rewards, fun and sense of pride from growing their own fruits and vegetables.

One such working mom is Tori Spelling. With 4 children and a new television show (Mystery Girls, a new detective comedy with Tori’s Beverly Hills 90210 co-star Jennie Garth) airing on ABC Family, a veggie garden was on her definite must-have list.

Check out Tori’s blog ediTORIal and her post about Gro-O here

Stella planting seedsIf you have a busy workload and a hectic schedule, you don’t have to feel intimidated or overwhelmed.  We can help you get growing with your own organic garden. Gro-O harvest pic*if you don’t have room for a bigger raised planter garden (for example 4′ x 8′), we can also set you up with container gardens that suit your space (patio, small strip of land, etc.)


July is National Watermelon Month — How Watermelon Helps with Cleansing, Weight Loss & Health


Summer temperatures are climbing and the cravings for summer fruit have kicked in. It’s time to shine the light on this thirst quenching fruit. According to the National Watermelon Association: “in 2008, the U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution that designated the month of July as National Watermelon month. The following spring (2009), the U.S. House of representatives followed suit.”

watermelon still on vine

A happy watermelon amongst the vines in the garden of a Gro-O client.

If you’ve been growing watermelon in your organic garden, kudos to you. You’ll be able to enjoy the health benefits of this mouthwatering fruit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Why Watermelon is Good For You

According to an article in Care2, there are multiple reasons to be eating watermelon.

How Watermelon Helps with Cleansing, Weight Loss & Health

  • Extremely alkaline-forming in the body — reducing body’s acidity and thereby balancing the body’s pH level (for more info, read the NIH’s: The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health?)
  • High amount of citrulline – creates a diuretic effect (lots of peeing) as the toxins leave your body. Citrulline makes arginine which removes ammonia and other toxins from the body. 
  • High in dietary fiber – helps keep the colon clean, helping cleanse your body.
  • Contains glutathione  — a powerful antioxidant and detoxifying agent) that helps improve liver function. Your body needs it to begin to detox body toxins. 
  • Good source of potassium – balances the high amounts of sodium in our diets which supports your kidneys and is great when cleansing.
  • Prevents Wrinkles — Watermelon is high is lycopene. Lycopene helps slow down the effect of aging caused by the oxidation in your body that causes wrinkles and blemishes. 
  • Reduces inflammation  — Inflammation contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer and arthritis. Less inflammation means lower toxic load in the body.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

A young organic watermelon -- just a babe.

A young organic watermelon — just a babe.

The National Geographic website also chimes in with these health virtues attributed to watermelon:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ideas for watermelon dishes

Image courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board

Image courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board

If you’re looking for watermelon recipes, browse through the National Watermelon Promotion Board’s site. You’ll find recipes for every meal of the day, including ideas for entrees.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You’ve We’ve Been Eating Watermelon Wrong

from BuzzFeed Food (and the Crazy Russian Hacker) http://youtu.be/BG6EIV4kjrU

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Trivia time

The world’s heaviest watermelon weighed 121.93 kg (268.8 lb) and was grown by Lloyd Bright (USA) of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, USA in 2005.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Previous Gro-O blog posts about watermelon:

Newest Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants

It stands to reason that crops grown organically
would have fewer pesticides.

A new study1 confirmed that fact along with discovering that organically grown crops had more antioxidants.

cherry tomatoes growing

Organically grown cherry tomatoes in a Gro-O garden in Beverly Hills

A story written by Kenneth Chang and published in the New York Times (July 11, 2014)2 reports that the study was done by an international team of scientists led by Newcastle University (UK) who compiled a database from 343 previously published studies and reviewed the results. Although the team did not conduct any laboratory or field work of their own, they did conclude:

  • the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was found to be four times higher in conventional crops, which also contained significantly higher concentrations of the toxic metal cadmium.
  • organic crops and crop-based foods are up to 69% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops

harvest in EncinoThere still is some dispute about whether organic crops are more nutritional than conventionally grown crops. But this adds more scientific research info to support the organic food movement.

close-up cherry tomatoes2summer veggie harvest====
1Study results as printed in the British Journal of Nutrition – Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literary review and meta-analyses

2A version of the NY Times article appears in print on July 12, 2014, on page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants


A backyard vegetable garden brings 2 generations together — How tomatoes led to friendship

This is a story of the friendship between 89 year old World War II vet, Erling Kindem and a 3 year old pre-schooler, Emmett Rychner in Farmington, MN. The story was reported by Boyd Huppert of KARE Television  (NBC affiliate–Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN).

“They kind of bonded over the tomatoes in his garden,” said Emmett’s mom Ankia, “because Emmett loves tomatoes.”

A touching story (you will probably need a tissue) that shows how something as simple as a tomato garden can lead to a deep friendship.