Get Your Hands Dirty

If you’ve ever felt the tiniest urge to grow something, you should go with it! Gardening is a fantastic way to enrich your life and your health.

Gardeners talk about the feeling of satisfaction they get from gardening. This may be due to the concept of biophilia – that we are drawn to connect with other living, growing things.

Growing your own produce is a good way to eat healthier and better. Fruits and vegetables are highest in vitamins and nutrients when they’re just picked. Imagine the fresh taste of food that only traveled a few yards to your table. You control what goes in the soil and on the plants.

Gardening has other documented health benefits like relieving stress, improving heart and brain health, lowering your risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s, improving hand strength and dexterity, and fighting depression.

Shawnee County Research and Extension horticulture agent Ariel Whitely-Noll said, “Gardens are the ultimate outlet for creativity. They bring us closer to our neighbors and encourage a stronger sense of community.”

Ariel’s advice for first time gardeners is to find something that interests you – raised beds, composting, growing tomatoes, planting trees – and learn all you can. Starting a project and already knowing potential obstacles and how to avoid them is key to success. It’s easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed in the garden but tackling projects one at a time is a much more manageable approach.

Our Lawn & Garden Neighborhood has books and DVDs on everything from preparing the soil to harvesting the spoils. The library can help you get started with The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Garden by Sally Roth or take a look at Homegrown Pantry by Barbara Pleasant for a guide on selecting the perfect harvest for your tastes.

K-State Research and Extension Shawnee County Master Gardeners programs are offered at the library each month with expert information and tips. They will also host their annual garden training on Sat, May 12 at their Demonstration Vegetable Garden. Check out the master gardener website.

I work in Circulation as a senior library associate. I love mysteries, traveling, gardens and libraries. My favorite authors are Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters, Patricia Cornwell and Harlan Coben, but I enjoy any well-plotted mystery.