Got the Blues, Grab the Garden Tools
By Patty Cressman
Grayson County Master Gardener
Gardening is “soil” therapy. Time spent outdoors relieves stress and anxiety and is good for the mind, body, and soul.
Exposure to sunshine provides the body with Vitamin D which increases the body’s calcium levels and helps boost the body’s immune system. A 2006 study found that gardening reduces the risk of dementia in individuals over the age of 60 by 36 percent. A study in the Netherlands, cited by CNN, showed that individuals who gardened outdoors for 30 minutes had lower cortisol levels in their blood than those who were told to sit inside and read for 30 minutes. Furthermore, gardening is a form of aerobic exercise: weeding, pulling, twisting, lifting, squatting, bending, you name it, gardening is a full-body workout. Gardening can also combat loneliness especially when gardening with a group of volunteers.1
1 AARP: Five Secret Health Benefits of Gardening, June 14, 2017
The cool weather that January offers is a great time to plant vegetable seeds such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard. The seedlings are usually cold hearty unless unseasonal temperatures are forecasted. In the event of an extreme cold snap, the seedlings can be covered with mulch, leaves, or grass clippings. A little bit of gardening in January can provide a home-grown leafy salad in the months to come.
January is also a good month to start seeds indoors or in an attached garage. Tomato, eggplant, and pepper seeds can be planted. Use a plastic cell tray system (dome, cells, bottom tray) and place the tray on a seedling heating mat. Hang a very bright LED tub light as close to the seedlings as possible. Raise the lights as the seedling grows.
The next four weeks are a good time to plant onion sets (transplants) that are available at local nurseries and big-box stores. Plant the bulb ¾ inch deep but not more than one inch deep. Plant each bulb about three inches apart.
Asparagus can also be planted this month. Asparagus is grown from one or two-year old crowns. The plant prefers soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Asparagus prefers full sunlight and well-drained sandy or light-textured soils. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Website has detailed information for planting and caring for asparagus.
Gardening is a worthwhile hobby that feeds the soul and the body. Reap the benefits, sow some seeds today.
Grayson County Master Gardeners Association is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone 903-813-4204, our web page https://txmg.org/grayson/, or our Facebook group.