Gardening for Healthy Living
There are numerous health benefits you can gain through gardening.
- Mental benefits: Tranquil waterfalls, meditation gardens, or the simple sensation of digging in the dirt, all help relieve stress. Nothing moves fast in a garden! Working together can strengthen family bonds and create childhood memories. Exercise is a natural mood elevator, can improve brain function and has been shown to relieve depression. Plants are excellent listeners!
- Physical benefits: Gardening is low-impact exercise, burns calories, can keep you limber, and reduce blood pressure. Growing and using herbs can reduce your use of salt and fat in your cooking. People who grow food, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables on average, and know exactly what chemicals have been used to on their food. Children who vegetable garden, try more vegetables, establishing a healthy lifestyle early. It’s been shown that people who look at natural settings or gardens, heal faster in hospitals.
GARDENING IS GOOD FOR YOU!!
Find more information on the health benefits of gardening at these resources:
If you received Purple Coneflower seeds at our giveaway, planting instructions are below.
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a common perennial wildflower throughout the eastern half of North America, but listed as a Florida endangered species. Medical studies have proven that echinacea can boost the immune system, and is useful in treating a number of common ailments. Coneflower is great for cutting, and attracts a very diverse assortment of pollinating insects. The name echinacea comes from the Greek “echinos”, meaning hedgehog.
The large showy flowers last spring through summer. They are several inches across with drooping pink to lavender ray petals and a central disk of spiky greenish brown ones. The flowers can stand 3-5 feet tall. It looks best, mixed with other medium-tall wildflowers, in patches of no less than 3 plants, preferably more than 5.
In Florida, it seems to do best when used in partly sunny locations, in well-drained soil, and prefers a higher soil pH. These are not the same conditions this plant is found in further north. The vast majority of purple coneflower propagated in Florida does not come from Florida ecotype seed stock, which is why so many plants act like annuals. It is important to leave dead flower heads on to reseed, or harvest them so that you may sprout them. Once established they will thrive on the available moisture from rain except in extremely dry areas. The plant does benefit from applications of compost.
This variety germinates without cold stratification, however a 7-day stratification enhances germination, but is not critical. Do this by scattering the seeds between two layers of moist paper towels, put the towels in a plastic bag, and refrigerate.
The seed is relatively easily propagated. Sow them on the ground in a weed free area, and lightly cover with soil or compost. Make sure you keep them watered well until the summer rains stay consistent. You should see sprouts in 2-3 weeks. Follow with mulch to protect the plants from weed competition. You can also sprout in flats in the fall, up to 1/4 inch deep in a good potting soil. Transplant the seedlings into small pots in the spring. Once they have developed vigorous root systems, plant them in your landscape.