Why Dirt Can Make You Happy & Other Great Gardening Tips

Everyone loves a beautifully blooming, well-tended flower garden, especially with the arrival of the warmer months of the year. But who has the time to devote to it when the kids are off doing a million-and-one things and it falls to you (super mom) to make sure they fulfill their extracurricular activities.  Well, with the discovery of a healthy connection between the outdoors and happiness, moms from across the Garden State can breathe easier now and spend some much deserved (and absolutely guilt-free) time in the garden.flowers (1)

According to an online blog post originally published by Horticulture Magazine, playing in the dirt is good for your health. And it’s all thanks to the existence of Mycobacterium vaccae, a type of bacteria that is found in soil. It causes the release of Serotonin within the human body, raising moods and lowering anxiety levels.

So grab the kids and head on over to your local garden center for some plants for a garden full of vibrant color. Not sure what variety of plants and flowers grow best? The Gardening Club at Home Depot has some great tips that will help you create a garden the whole neighborhood will be talking about!

  • Buy young plants called annual starts in packs or containers at your local garden center.
  • Conduct a simple soil test to check pH levels or nutrient deficiencies and amend the soil as needed. Consider performing the soil test before going to purchase any plants or flowers. Doing this will help you to have a better idea of the kind of plants or flowers grow best in the dirt outside your home and make the planning and designing stages of your garden go smoother. (Read about soil-testing here for more information on how to best prepare your garden for planting.)

Follow these how-to steps to easily plant Annual Flowers:

  • Read plant tags or ask a Garden Center associate when it’s safe to plant your flowers in the garden.
  • If you have to hold the flowers for a few days before planting them, don’t let them dry out. Keep them in a protected spot on a porch or under a tree.
  • When you’re ready to plant, dig holes with a trowel or make a larger bed with a shovel.
  • Mix some compost and any amendments indicated from the soil test into the soil.
  • Remove the plants from their pots and loosen their roots.
  • Place the plants in the ground at the same level they were growing in their pots.
  • Replace the soil and gently firm it around the plants, being careful not to damage their roots.
  • Apply fertilizer and water thoroughly.
  • Add mulch to keep water in and control weeds later.

Follow these how-to steps to easily transplant seedlings:

Before you move your seedlings outside, look at the seed packet to see what kind of flowers you have: tender, half-hardy or hardy annuals. Wait until after the last frost in your area to transplant tender annuals. Half-hardy annuals can survive a few brief, light frosts with temperatures no lower than 35 to 45 degrees. Hardy annuals can tolerate one or two short, light freezes.

seedling
Find the average date of the last frost or freeze in your area to know when it’s safe to transplant the kind of annuals you’re growing. Count 7 to 10 days back from that date and follow this schedule to harden them off – the process of moving seedlings in and out to ready them for a permanent home outside.

Day 1: Place the seedlings outside in a sheltered location for 3 to 4 hours. Then bring them in.

Day 2: Place plants outside for 5 to 6 hours. Bring them in again.

Days 3-7: Increase their time outdoors by 2 hours each day with a few hours of morning sun. Move them to the shade in the afternoon, and bring them in each night.

Day 7: Place the seedlings in the sun all day. Leave them out all night, unless the temperatures drop below 50 degrees.

Day 10: Plant the seedlings in your garden. Water them and apply mulch.

Written by Victoria Williams