Autumn is here.. Why not plant a vegetable garden?

Do you find yourself daydreaming about that vegetable garden you have always wanted to plant?  Perhaps it is a simple herb garden, or maybe your dreams involve lines of crops in the countryside (and chickens, of course!).  Well, that country block may not be around the corner, but cooler weather certainly is!  And that means it is the perfect time to start a garden.

What are the benefits of gardening in Autumn?

Well firstly, the air isn’t as warm so it is much more comfortable to be outdoors.  But putting our comfort aside, what do the plants have to say?  Most plants enjoy being established during this time, as they don’t have to battle the hot sun and humidity. Also, the ground and soil become more friable and moist, making planting much easier.  Deciding on what vegetables to grow is another factor, which will depend on where you live.  For example, wintertime in Brisbane is the perfect time to plant tomatoes, green leafys, radish, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, broccolini, carrots, basil, dill, parsley, and so much more.  

What if my soil needs improving?

Compost is the answer (to almost everything garden-related).  Autumn is another great time to set up a composting system or a few!  There are many ways to compost, from worm farms, compost bin systems, or a pallet system.  Composting allows you to reuse materials (such as food scraps and garden waste) to then create beautiful rich material that improves soil health and plant growth.  

I am a new gardener, where do I begin?

You can begin anywhere you want!  There are no right or wrongs in growing plants, just give it a go.  Just like anything new, find yourself some great resources (such as books or videos) relevant to your dreams and begin reading and watching.  Perhaps you have a friend willing to lend you a hand and give you some pointers.  

Photos by Nicole Orlowski Photography

Growing food in your own garden is a wonderful hobby and creative pastime.   Not only does it teach us about the cycles of nature and the way that our food is grown, but it also grounds us and brings us back to the greater connection of living on this earth. In the wise words of Geoff Lawton, “You are what you eat, and if you don’t know what you eat, then you don’t know who you are.  You have lost that connection.”

Why not delve into the world of growing food?  You’ll be chomping on a delicious red and ripe tomato, or a crunchy orange carrot in no time!

How A Walk in the Forest can Help Cure What Ails You

We’ve been hearing more and more about how getting out into nature can help to improve mood, reduce stress and promote overall good health. It makes a fair bit of sense that as humans have evolved with nature, and therefore our nervous systems may feel most ‘at home’ when we are amongst nature. But it seems that there is more to it than that. Studies are now showing that some of the compounds produced by the trees in the forests we walk in have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, neuroprotective and antitumor effects. These compounds (forest aerosols) are excreted by our trees (in particular, conifer and camphor laurel trees) and we can be said to be ‘showering in them’ when we take a forest walk. Forest aerosols are being shown to have many beneficial effects on health in laboratory testing and may be the reason that walking in the forest has been shown to benefit asthma, atopic dermatitis, immune health, cancer and nervous system health (Cho KS, 2017).  It is not only conifers and camphors but other plants such as lavender, citrus, hops, peppermint and chamomile that also contain these beneficial compounds. If anyone needed a reason to go for a walk in a lavender or chamomile field, here it is!

Other health benefits can be attributed to the production of a compound called brain- derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF) when we exercise. BDNF promotes what we call ‘neuroplasticity’ which basically refers to the ability of brain cells to heal and create new connections as is seen in learning and healing from damage due to stress, depression or trauma. A reduction in BDNF is seen in neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and has also been linked to major depression, stress, obesity and cardiovascular disease. In the case of BNDF, we do not need to be walking in the forest to promote its production – any exercise will do (but a forest walk is a great option if available). Studies show that moderate to high-intensity physical activity are the most effective in achieving the desired increase in BDNF (Phillips, 2017).

So why not make a regular walk in the forest part of your health regime? When you breathe in those delicious foresty smells you are taking your aerosol shower and providing your body with many healing agents. If you are sick, it may assist your healing process, and if you are not, it will certainly provide protection against some long-term health complaints.

So, get a map, pack a lunch, get a buddy and get out there!