For years I suffered from the cursed black thumb—my mother quit bringing plants to me because they always shriveled away!
A few years ago, my stress levels and blood pressure were so high I was in real danger of having a stroke. (My job involves caring for patients moving from a state institution to a group home.) I needed to find some new way to help myself, so I picked up some sunflower seeds and started a sunflower garden—just a small one with five or six sunflowers. They were African Queens and so beautiful.
It helped me a little, so the following year I planted Romas. We had tomatoes for weeks that summer, and I could feel the stress melting away. I decided it was time for my first real garden. I had old tires repainted and turned into planters, I set up a gazebo for morning glory vines, converted a bird cage into a flower planter (with a dragon statue at the center), and more. Getting my hands and knees dirty, tilling, planting, sowing, weeding, and watering was the best therapy I could ever have chosen—and my money went right back into my pocket because I was growing so much of my own food: lettuce, spinach, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, and herbs!
As it turns out, the plants love my stress and I give it to them! I fully believe my garden saved my sanity. I know for certain it saved me thousands of dollars in therapy sessions. As a graduate student in psychology and behavioral health, I recommend to everyone who asks me about stress management: Take it out on the soil and weeds!
By Gena Sayers of Hesperia, MI.
This article was published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #107.