GARDENING IMPROVES NUTRITION FOR OLDER ADULTS
On the first day of spring, our thoughts turn to the garden and what we will be growing this year. Researchers at Texas A&M University suggest growing more fruit and vegetables. Over half of the older adults in the U.S. do not consume the recommended five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. The research study, “Growing Minds: Evaluating the Relationship between Gardening and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Older Adults”, shows that gardening can encourage elders to eat more of the good foods.
The study has shown that gardeners are more likely to eat more fruit and vegetables as compared to non-gardeners. In addition to improved eating habits, 80 percent of the older adults participating in the research study indicated that they feel better because of their gardening activities. Gardening programs have a positive effect for the health and quality of life for older adults.
To view an abstract of the research study, visit: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/20/4/711Read more
GREAT OUTDOORS INITIATIVE
According to the Audubon Society, there are approximately 48 million people who identify themselves as ‘birders’. There is even an App that is available for i-phones that can help you identify birds. This is all proof that we love nature and want to stay connected in many different ways.
The Audubon Society has been promoting a program to help people connect with nature. The Great Outdoors Initiative celebrates our nation’s spectacular landscapes and natural abundance.
“It’s not fattening. It can change your mood in a heartbeat. And it’s romantic. Taking nature personally is as American as freedom — and nature doesn’t belong to a party,” said David Yarnold, President & CEO of Audubon.
Visit the Audubon Society’s web site to learn more about the Great Outdoors Initiative and other bird related programs: http://birds.audubon.org/Read more
WALKING AND MEMORY
Research indicates that walking changes the hippocampus volume in the brain resulting in improved memory performance. As we age, the hippocampus loses one to two percent of volume each year, which affects our memory and could possibly increase the risk of dementia. The study, published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, followed older adults aged 50 to 80 years of age over the course of a year. Modest aerobic exercise reversed brain shrinkage by one to two years. So, getting outside and walking on a regular basis will not only help us maintain good health, it will also reverse loss of memory! The article in the Wall Street Journal is at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704476604576158453716983010.html?KEYWORDS=Exercise+Boosts+Brain+Power
Daylight saving time occurs March 13th and spring is a week later starting on April 20th. Maybe you are like many people and cannot wait to experience the colors and sights the garden will bring. So, cutting a few branches and ‘forcing’ the plants to bloom is a way to get an early taste of what the season has in store. You can cut the branches of forsythia, quince, cherry and magnolia and bring them indoors. Bring the branches inside and re-cut the branches at a 45 degree angle and place them in a vase of water. When the blossoms appear, keep them out of direct sunlight. Be sure to change the water every two or three days, and enjoy spring a few weeks early!
Studies conducted by the U.S. Forestry Service have conducted studies that show that a shade tree planted on the west side of a building or home saved about $120 in energy costs. Shade trees planted on the south side of the building save only $39 in energy costs. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is today”, indicates Rowan Rowntree, the lead scientist and visionary with the Forestry Service conducting research on the value of planting trees in urban areas.
The primrose (primula) is one of the first flowers of the spring season and the first rose of the season. The wild European primrose, Primula vulgaris, was an indicator of spring as well as first love. The current primrose found in our gardens today is hybridized versions of the wild forms. They are a perennial that likes partially shaded conditions and will typically thrive in zones 3 – 9. Their colors are purple, yellow, pink, red and white. They are best located on the north side of a home or building and are good when massed under taller shrubs or in a rock garden. Their use is important, not just as a sign of spring because they are used as a source of food by butterflies.
We are all familiar with the uses of basil in cooking and the fragrance of this herb is well known to many. However, we may not be as aware that basil (Ocimum basilicum) helps to keep unwanted insects away fro other plants in our garden. Growing basil with tomatoes will help ward off insects as well as disease. It is best to plant a row of basil parallel to tomatoes, as opposed to in between the plants. Also, placing basil on top of tomatoes in a serving bowl on the dinner table will help to deter fruit flies.
GEN X & Y GARDENERS
A recent survey of ‘younger’ gardeners by the Garden Writers Association indicates that they are just as interested in gardening as their older counterparts. Those aged 25 – 40 years old are very interested in growing vegetables, flowers and herbs. Up to 66% of the under 40 are interested in taking care of plants. What may come as a surprise, these younger gardeners (87%) get advice from friends, neighbors, books and garden centers. A smaller percent (47%) look to the internet or television for help. We should think more about trying to create intergenerational gardens.
It is becoming more widely recognized that reducing stress can lead to faster recovery from illness. One of the ways that we can reduce stress is through access to the natural environment. Topophilia, a term coined by geographer Yi-Fu Tuan of the University of Wisconsin, is the study of the restorative effects of one’s environment. It is looking at the affective bond between a person’s mental, emotional and cognitive ties to a particular place. The possibility exits that people may prefer the natural environments to those that are complex designs or provide artificial sensory stimulation. If we can learn more about what are the elements in nature that help reduce stress, we may be able to create environments that help improve quality of life.
“It is apparent that no lifetime is long enough, in which to explore the resources of a few square yards of ground.” – Alice M. CoatsRead more