Gardening helping grow more positive mental health

Posted at 11:46 AM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 18:02:20-04

"People are really hungry for information," said Michael Chamberland.

Many people are also hungry for a new hobby. Something that is productive, yet peaceful.

"They have more time and they can keep up the watering and the maintenance of these plants, when previously they weren't around so much," said Chamberland.

He is an Assistant Agent, ANR/Urban Horticulture with Maricopa County Cooperative Extension and the University of Arizona.

Chamberland is part of a team of master gardeners who have now put their in-person classes online.

"A lot of these were topics that we would have been doing as part of the live class anyway and we just moved it all online because of the necessity of it," Chamberland said.

The classes go live on Sundays at 2 p.m. This weekend's topic is about raised garden beds. To sign up for the class, click here.

"This class is going to talk about the techniques and materials for constructing the raised bed, the kind of soil... that you may use to fill the raised bed and some of the differences you'll experience with watering and maintaining a raised bed," Chamberland explained. "Which is different from planting things directly in the ground."

Participants will be able to follow along and ask questions.

One question that may be on an Arizona native's mind: what can I plant right now in the Valley the Sun?

"Growing plants here is a totally different phenomenon from almost anywhere else in the U.S.," Chamberland said.

He suggests that house plants may be the best bet right now. However, if you want to use the cooler mornings to get outside, Chamberland listed off melons, okra, sweet potatoes, sunflowers, and a few others that can grow in the warmer season.

To view the Vegetable Planting Calendar for Maricopa County, click here.

When gardening, participants are not just growing plants. Experts say they will also see a growth in their overall mental health.

Psychology Today is just one of the many publications that includes research and experts discussing the benefits of a green thumb. Their article listed out 10 different ways gardening and what's known as "horticultural therapy" helps mental health in an article last year.

One of the positive impacts listed was practicing acceptance and recognizing things happen. We cannot always control everything.

Another one on the list has to do with being present and staying focused on the progress happening in front of you.

Chamberland and his colleagues have plenty of resources for budding gardeners online, including a phone and email address for you to submit your questions to a Master Gardener.

Click here for that information: