Friday, February 24, 2012

Horticultural Therapy

In recent months, I've read a lot of articles about the health benefits of gardening. In particular, using gardening as a form of therapy to help deal with catastrophic grief and working through mental health issues is gaining popularity. Dubbed Horticultural Therapy, this article from NPR links the benefits to stress reduction, calmer nerves and a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. If I needed another reason to spend time in my garden, then certainly, this would be it.

As Mom to two toddlers, I'm experiencing another aspect of horticultural therapy; building confidence and encouraing independence in my kids. The three of us maintain numerous flower beds, raised veggie beds and potted plants, and enjoy spending this time together. They're as passionate as I am...ok almost...about seeing the process through from seed to table (or floral arrangement) and are learning to express why that is. And their little personalities are as different as their taste in plants.

Whatever your reason or need, gardening may provide an outlet. If you've never had an opportunity to flex your green thumb, start with an easy to care for potted plant like a peace lily. If you're feeling more adventurous, purchase a seed pack, a bag of potting mix and a planter. It's that easy. Give gardening a chance and see which benefits you reap from horticultural therapy.

Here are a few photos from last summer's garden to inspire you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Earthworm Delight

I have the most amazing gardening friends who share their best stuff with me. Below is a picture of a tub of earthworms I received today.

So why so excited? Because these beauties are the equivalent of garden gold. They will burrow in the soil, effectively aerating it, eat annoying buggers like nematodes, AND fertilize my garden with their castings. Plus, the kids and I had an awesome time picking them out and spreading them around the veggie and flower beds. There were literally hundreds, which kept my little tykes busy for a while.

For the little ones in your life, check out this cool site from Nat Geo Kids about earthworms. You'll have them digging outside in no time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Carpenter Bee Extermination Folly

Sunday, the DH, kids and I visited the Greater Montgomery Home and Garden Show. As usual, it was very interesting and this year's addition of the Party Palace's Disney characters even made it fun for the kids. I especially enjoy the garden section. However, I was slightly perturbed at this booth, whose product aimed to trap then chemically kill carpenter bees:

This company is obviously not familiar with the important role carpenter bees play in pollination.

Yes, they can be pesky creatures boring into our wooden structres as detailed in this post from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. However, instead of fighting nature, we should compliment it. The bees are boring into wood looking for a suitable place to lay their eggs. Build a bee house to draw the carpenter bees away from dwelling structures, by grouping several wooden cylindrical shapes together; bamboo works well. A female will nest, sealing up only one side of the bee house so that the young bees can escape from the other side. (Of course this is a process you'll likely have to repeat every year.) The bees can bore till their heart is content, your wooden structures will be protected, and no bees will be killed in the process.

I thought about explaining this either to the man in the booth, or to his potential customers, then decided against it. My husband and kids probably would not have appreciated me getting kicked out. Let's hope in this instance, the pen is mightier than the sword and those same people are reading this post.