Gardening is a helpful tool to help with mental health as well as keeping us physically moving. This is important for older adults, as we become less mobile as we grow older in life. Growing a garden also stimulates our senses: looking at different colours, feeling different textures. And it gives us a sense of achievement and something to look forward to in our complex lives.
Coming home to something familiar and pleasurable can help our emotional wellbeing and help us become more resilient. You can experiment with flowers and vegetables, discover what you prefer to grow indoors or outdoors, and develop a sense of responsibility and routine within your home, that can keep your body and mind active.
I’ve been growing garlic in my own garden for a number of years now and it is so easy and simple to do. You don’t even have to grow it in the ground – you can also use any container that you wish: large pots or even plastic boxes.
Simply put in some soil add some fertilizer. Then pop in individual garlic bulbs, cover them with soil and water them. I like to cover them with newspaper and held in place by something heavy around the sides, until their tips start to show. This protects them from birds or squirrels who like to dig for food.
I usually let the rain water them and just leave them to grow for nine to ten months, until they flower. Then they will dry out and the garlic is ready to harvest. It’s so satisfying to pull them out knowing that they have been grown organically and will taste amazing in a home cooked meal.
I then will wash and dry the garlic, peel and then store the cloves in my freezer ready for the whole year. I replant more bulbs so they are ready for the next year. This has occupied my time and helps me plan ahead for different sections of my garden. It’is very therapeutic as I also feel that it gives me a purpose: I’m doing something creative and reaping the benefits of nature.
There are some huge rewards from gardening, not to mention munching down on free food! It’s great to share a few tips with other garden lovers, who may even disclose some of their well-guarded gardening secrets and become friends along the way. So my advice is, ‘don’t knock it before you try it’ and see for yourself how this pastime can help chase away blues.