Gardening Insights From Edwards Greenhouse

Enrichment and Balance

Amendments to the soil help balance conditions for plant growth. How we engage in purposeful and meaningful activities helps bring balance to our lives. These are very different concepts, but are both essential.

First, a look at soil preparation for a vegetable garden: Nothing replaces the wealth of information a professional soil test provides, including soil pH, and how much organic matter and fertilizer is needed. (Contact your local County Extension Office for instructions and sample bags for soil testing.) But in general, amending with organic matter is the most crucial element. www.gardeners.com and http://web.cals.uidaho.edu/idahogardens/tag/soil-amendments/ discuss how organic matter reduces problems with soil diseases, and improves soil structure. Soil may have too much clay, or too much sand or silt, which affect drainage and nutrient availability. Don’t add sand to clay, or vice-versa, because your soil will turn into concrete! Adding organic matter, such as compost, plant waste (leaves or lawn clippings), aged animal manure, green manures (cover crops), mulches, or peat moss not only creates better texture, but also the water, food, and air for the most important ingredients: the tiny creatures that live in the soil. These are what www.gardeners.com call the “magic” in healthy soil: the soil organisms that “include bacteria and fungi, protozoa and nematodes, mites, springtails, earthworms, and other tiny creatures,” that, “help convert organic matter and soil minerals into the vitamins, hormones, disease-suppressing compounds, and nutrients plants need.” The University of Idaho site, cited earlier, encourages spreading a layer of compost 3 to 6 inches deep on the soil surface and tilling to a depth of 10-12 inches if possible. Edwards sells at least 5 types of compost in the Garden Store, including bulk compost, that you can ask Edward’s retail staff about.

Fertilizer is another element to consider. Generalizations about how much fertilizer to use are difficult to make, and a soil test is the most accurate guide. However, the U of I site states, “For most Idaho soils, a fertilizer that is relatively high in nitrogen and phosphorus, contains a moderate amount of potassium, and possibly some sulfur will work reasonably well,” and, “a yearly application of fertilizer is likely needed.” Edwards sells Dr. Earth products found at http://drearth.net/blog/

We’ve seen how plants need enrichment and balance through soil amendments. People need enrichment and balance through purposeful and meaningful daily activities. These activities include self-care, play or leisure, work and/or home, and community-based tasks. www.webmd.com has tips for a better balance if you are experiencing burn-out.

  1. Scheduling is a powerful tool for needed activities, such as scheduling time to eat a leisurely lunch. (I’m guilty of not doing this!) Another may be scheduling family/friend time to go to the park.
  2. Becoming more aware of how time is spent, so that you’re able to drop unnecessary activities, such as getting sucked into social media for excessive amounts of time, is another consideration.
  3. Exercising helps boost energy levels and improves physical and mental health, especially the ability to concentrate.
  4. And creating time to relax with a hobby, like gardening, can be rejuvenating and fun!

Also, in a report titled “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research” found at www.nationalservice.gov, the Corporation for National and Community Service, “has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.” And, “the biggest benefit people get from volunteering is the satisfaction of incorporating service into their lives and making a difference in their community and country.” www.idahorefugees.org is a link to volunteer opportunities for Global Gardens, a project working to, among other benefits, endorse skills for sustenance for the refugees in Idaho through gardening!

Edward’s staff members are happy to provide support and advice throughout the gardening experience to strengthen each gardener’s skills at all experience levels.

 

Gretchen Weitemier

Occupational Therapist

Herbs and Veggies Worker