Digging in soil and tending a garden can improve your mental and physical health, according to gardening experts, so why not get your hands dirty during the COVID-19 pandemic and do some planting?
Isaac Crosby is a program coordinator and the lead hand in urban agriculture at Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto. Crosby is from Anderdon Nation, unceded land about half an hour south of Windsor, Ontario. He is proud of his Ojibwa and black-Canadian heritage.
“Growing your own food keeps you stress-free, gives you something to do, gets you back to nature, and back to planting”, says Crosby.
He points out that plants are on earth to heal. “Colours make people feel happy. Putting your hands in soil mellows you out, and you feel connected to the earth. Mother Earth will take your negative energy and turn it into a positive by growing something big and beautiful.”
Crosby encourages everyone to “play with the soil, touch the earth, plant the seeds and after a few hours you’ll feel better.”
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Plant a Medicine Garden
Crosby says traditional Indigenous gardens include cedar trees, sweet grass, light sage and tobacco> He adds, “But keep in mind, food is our medicine, so grow some veggies! Radishes, beets, greens, lettuces. Add seeds every couple of weeks until the middle of June. Potatoes and cauliflower will grow well now too.”
Plants that are soothing for body and soul
Bee balm flowers are brilliant additions to late-summer herb gardens and flower borders. They will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other nectar-seeking creatures, and the leaves and flowers can be made into tea.
Echinacea is easy to grow from nursery stock, seed or division. It is part of a group of flowering plants in the daisy family. The plants are loaded with plant compounds that can function as antioxidants.
And you could plant stinging nettle. It has been a staple in herbal medicine since ancient times, such as to treat arthritis and back pain.