Gardening Therapy: My Mom Said It’s A Good Habit
March 1, 2021
I spent most of the weekend puttering around the house and gardening this weekend. My friend Dr. Jill Gustafson https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-jill-gustafson-environmentally-minded-pediatrician-4/ referred to it as my urban farm, which I guess is a really cool way to think about it. I need to update the blogpost I wrote about her as the picture link does not work anymore. I might just use a picture of the cool hand-made soaps that she has been working on or the 3D Boston Puzzle she leant me! Sharing is caring folks, and Dr. Jill Gustafson cares about the world and everyone!
Back to gardening. I think it is when I read Project Drawdown and the emphasis on the emissions of the agricultural sector, reading about the power of plant-based eating on reducing climate change and looking at myself and my influence as pediatrician that takes care of kids who need to eat better food that made me realize what the gardeners around me had known all along. If we want to save the world, we have to do it by regenerating the soil and eating more locally and plant-based. And what is more local than your own urban garden?
I was updating our financial spreadsheets and remembered it kind of all started when we sold our “extra car” which was a Honda Odyssey Minivan. It actually went to an old high-school friend for a bit below market rate $4500. But not only did we get that money and avoided paying the yearly DMV fee which was about $150 or so, but we gained all this square footage of concrete pad in the back. As I began to transform that area into a container garden, I realized I had room for the Aerobin 400 composter that I had always wanted. And then the success in our backyard pad led to me venturing back up onto our roofdeck and now creating a green space up there. Between walking in the backyard and then up and down the spiral staircase, I’m getting a lot of steps in.
It’s been a beautiful process. I’ve planted beet greens, radishes, onions, and chia microgreens successfully. It might have been just a few plants, but given that I did it on my own with guidance from my mother and mother-in-law – it made those dinners especially meaningful. I’m also working on succulents and I was inspired by a friend’s house and her succulent container front-porch area. I bought hybrid aloe plants that are doing really well, and continuing to collect and propogate succulents gifted to me by people I love or that I’ve found in our own front yard or sometimes a stray succulent that has broken off itself and I will gather on my litter picking walks. I know it sounds silly but at those moments, I feel like a forager – although I’ve never foraged for food and I don’t think I’ll get to that point! Although I admire them whole heartedly.
And then there are my adventures in composting! We harvested our first compost this weekend and I’m so happy. I check on my compost everyday and either turn it, or water it. With the Aerobin 400 , you aren’t supposed to need to do anything – but I have fun with it. And the more I harvest our compost, the more the top level sinks and I can add more scraps. I actually don’t have enough scraps so I’ve asked my little brother to save vegetable scraps for me! He lives in a downtown condo so no yard space. I need to buy him a kitchen compost container for under his sink but I need to know how tall. I’ll call him today.
And in the end, my family will be eating even more nutritious food all powered by this regenerative process that is the composter, our own urban farm, and a sense of regeneration and wellness in our lives.
I gave my mom that huge funny looking radish that I posted on Instagram, and she was delighted and happy. She said the gardening is good for my mental health. It definitely is. Maybe I would not have gone through that dark period in my professional life when I was so stressed and sad and hypervigilant and irritable if I had been a gardener then? But going through burn out led me to the beach, which led me to declare I was going to save the world, which led me to gardening which led me back to my mom and mother-in-law and back to our own waste in our house now miraculously turned into soil. For each of us, we have our own journey and what I have most learned from all of this is to live in the present and not let worries of the future the “what ifs” destroy the joy of today. This is Dr. Plastic Picker, your pediatrician being present with you fully today and during your clinic visit.
The radish this weekend was so funny!