Despite living in a condo, I started gardening two years ago. I started gardening because a concussion left me with lingering debilitation, anxiety, and depression; I wasn’t able to do anything else and, serendipitously, a community garden opened up on my street. At the time, I had no idea that gardening would soon be responsible for a very positive turning point in my recovery process. I later learned that garden therapy, also known as horticultural therapy, is an effective supplemental therapy for all sorts of health problems. In the hopes of helping others, I’ve shared my personal experience, some research to explain the benefits of gardening, and a few tips for how you can get started. Don’t worry, you don’t need a backyard or a community garden to do it! As long as you have a sunny window, you can grow food! Note that although this article focuses on fruit and vegetable gardening, flower gardening can be just as beneficial.
Posts Tagged ‘gardening’
Did you know that you can eat broccoli leaves? Until I started growing broccoli in my garden, I had no idea 1. what a broccoli plant looked like and 2. that the large leaves were edible and delicious. You can cook them the same way you would cook collard greens. Simply remove the stems and thick ribs, chop the leaves up as desired (I like to roll the leaves up and then slice them thinly crosswise), and then you can steam them, boil them, grill them, saute or stir fry them. You can add them to soup and you can even use them, in lieu of cabbage leaves, to make rolls. Young and tender broccoli leaves can also be eaten raw in salads. On a side note, if you are planning on growing your own organic broccoli, be warned that they become infested with hundreds of tiny gray bugs and spiders. We were too disgusted to eat any of the broccoli crowns, even though they had the most rich broccoli flavour I’ve ever tasted. We will never plant broccoli again!
My favourite way to cook collard greens and broccoli leaves is to saute them with bacon and garlic. Cook 4 slices of smoked bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat until crispy. Remove the pieces of bacon, break them up into small pieces and set aside. Add minced garlic and sliced broccoli leaves to the hot pan with bacon grease. Cook, stirring frequently until the broccoli leaves are tender and still a bit crisp. Add salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, add a small splash of vinegar. Continue to stir until all of the vinegar has evaporated (if using). Stir in the crispy bacon pieces and serve immediately.
Living in an apartment that faces north prevented me from growing my own vegetables until now. This summer, I rented a community garden plot and tried gardening for the first time. I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, because I was (too often) too lazy to make the trip to the plot and water it. I was the most excited when a single Japanese eggplant started to grow. I proudly inspected it for a couple of weeks while researching recipes that would be worthy of this adorable, surely to be delicious, eggplant. But before it was fully grown, a rabbit ate it. I was really disappointed. Luckily, I was able to enjoy a bunch of young and tender snow pea shoots.