Working Out and the Art of Gardening

Happy Spring! It’s garden season which means hours spent barefoot in freshly tiled soil, measuring, planting, tilling, fertilizing, hoeing 😏, watering, weeding, tending, suckering, walking rows, and talking to your plants.

Gardening, however you do it, offers a variety of incredible health benefits, least of all being the fresh vegetables you get to enjoy all spring and summer long.

In my family, we’ve historically been what you might call “serious gardeners.”

I remember running through row after row of tomatoes and corn in my Papaws garden when I was young and after he died, my mom took up the mantle.

In recent years we’ve throttled back a bit but when we were seriously serious about it we had 3 acres of vegetable garden.

Yes, it was as whelming as it sounds.

I personally prefer smaller plots because you get to really spend time crafting your garden space but my for my mom, the bigger the garden the better.

Because I was so fat growing up the work was arduous. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it but I enjoyed it for an hour or two whereas my mom could spend bankers hours in her garden, every day no matter the heat, and in southern Arkansas, summer is like being wrapped up in a hot wet blanket all day, every day. That’s a testament to her tenacity.

I don’t know that we’ll have a garden this year. There are some circumstances at play which might make it difficult. So, we’ll see.

However, gardening can not only be a huge stress release, it’s also is an incredible workout and if you’ve ever gardened, you’ll know that.

And depending on what you’re doing in the garden it’s not uncommon to get a full body workout in.

As your planting, you’ll likely be performing squats, and lunges, which build up your glutes, and quads…that is, unless you take the easy way out and scoot along your butt to plant – which doesn’t do much for you at all.

Fertilizing! You’ll need to fertilize which will likely mean you have a 5 gal. bucket filled with the fertilizer of your choice. Fertilizing this way is just like performing a suitcase carry which strengthens grip, forearms, core, shoulders and chest. You’ll carry the bucket in one hand and scatter fertilizer with the other. Make sure you swap arms at the end of each row so you get a symmetrical impact.

As your plants grow you’ll need to be weeding to ensure they have as little competition for soil nutrients as possible. You can weed with a Hoe which is an awesome arm, back, and shoulder workout unless you plan on pulling the weeds by hand. If you’re using a Hoe, make sure you swap arms at the end of each row to make sure both muscle groups get a symmetrical workout. Also, when you switch to your non dominant arm, be careful that you don’t inadvertently cut down your plants along with the weeds. If you pull weeds by hand, you’re back to squats and lunges. Yay! SQUATS!

Tilling your rows. You’ve got to keep your rows tilled up so that they stay grass free and the soil stays aerated. We use a rear tine tillers which offer better stability but regardless of the tiller you use, you’re going to have to push it (at least a little) and you’re going to be using your arms, core, chest, and shoulders to keep it stable.

Tilling and weeding will be a weekly chore and as your plants mature and begin bearing fruit you’ll find other things need to be done like:

  • Continued fertilization once a month
  • Tomatoes will need to be suckered (pulling off the flowering “branches” that grow off the bottom of the plant.) Some people don’t do this but suckering will ensure your plants grow tall and strong as opposed to wiry and sprawling. You’ve got to get down low for this so more squatting!

Harvest time. Before long it’ll be time to start harvesting. Squash and Zucchini come off pretty quickly which will involve bending and squatting. The load will be light at first but squash and zucchini are prolific so before long you’ll have a heavy bushel full. Lift with your knees and dead lift those bushel baskets.

Dead lifts, suitcase carry, core, arms, shoulders, squats and lunges. That’s just some of the fun you can be having in your garden. Now, go grow something other than your muscles.

Om, Baby. Om!

Joshua T.

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