There are numerous recognised benefits to gardening for both physical and mental health. Studies have shown that it is one of the most effective forms of stress relief, and can even lower the level of stress hormones in your system while increasing the amount of serotonin and endorphins, which we need to feel good. Another study indicates that gardening can even reduce the chances of developing dementia later in life by up to 30%.
Physical exercise is really important for mental health too, as well as improving your overall health and fitness levels. Even just getting out in the sunlight is good for you. Everyone knows you need sunlight to absorb vitamin D, but it’s also key to regulating your body’s sleep/wake cycle. And why spend a fortune on your healthy organic food when you can grow your own seasonal veggies?
What you need:
It’s super easy and costs practically nothing to start out on your journey as a gardener; all you need is a few pots and some potting mix. You can acquire these for about $10 all up at your local Bunnings (it’ll set you back a few dollars more if you decide to visit the sausage sizzle on your way out). If you’re really in a pinch, you can grow them in any vessel you have, probably even a shoe would work.
Now comes the fun and free part: getting your plants. Succulents grow more or less anywhere as they thrive on neglect, so you can find them on nature strips and in parks. I once found a really nice one out the front of my federal MP’s office – how’s that for political activism? Your grandma or your friends probably have some they can give you cuttings from, too. Once you start it’s hard to stop and, much like trading Pokemon cards in primary school, you can trade cuttings with your friends to complete your collection.
Step 1: Leave your cuttings to dry for a day or two. This seals the broken off end and keeps fungus out.
Step 2: Put some soil in your pots/vessel of choice. It helps if you add some sand or grit to improve the drainage.
Step 3: Arrange your cuttings in the pots. Once they grow, they might need to be repotted depending on how big they get.
Step 4: Put your pot somewhere sunny, water it occasionally (don’t overwater!) and wait for your cuttings to take root. It helps if you check it every day and speculate on whether they’ve grown or not.
Step 5: Be the envy of all your Instagram followers.