Shared from the 2/21/2021 Sydney Morning Herald eEdition

Planting the seeds for health and wellbeing


Leading brand Mr Fothergill’s is one of Australia’s biggest suppliers of seed for hobby gardeners.

Growing your own produce can bring great satisfaction, along with self-esteem and a sense of achievement.

Stress is a universal problem that can cause physical ailments as well as more serious mental health issues.

Being outdoors and around nature brings strong healing powers proven to curb these afflictions. It can help lower blood pressure and reduce the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

It shouldn’t surprise then that gardening has similar restorative qualities that can work wonders for mental health.

Researchers in Sweden have found that the more people used and enjoyed their gardens, the fewer incidents of stress they suffered.

“Once you get going in the garden – watering, turning over soil, using a compost bin – you are nourishing the environment and yourself,” says Aaron Whitehouse, managing director of Mr Fothergill’s, one of Australia’s largest suppliers of seeds to the hobby garden market.

Another reason gardening can be a mood booster is because it is a result-based practice, with a new sprout spurring a sense of achievement, thereby boosting confidence and self-esteem.

“Ownership can be very powerful,’’ says Whitehouse. ‘‘Feeling like you have been part of the process from the start, especially if growing from seed, provides a real sense of accomplishment.

“There is also a lot to say about children getting into gardening for this reason. It teaches them what accomplishment feels like.”

Additionally, gardening provides a sense of control and comfort by offering people the chance to provide for themselves, their loved ones and even the broader community.

“One of the main reasons people grow their own is because they are in control of what they are growing; they know exactly what chemicals, if any, have gone into their produce,” Whitehouse adds.

“Growing your own also tastes better than what you get on the supermarket shelf. As soon as you harvest, the flavour profile starts deteriorating and so do most of the nutrients and the plant’s moisture content.

“Plus, everyone likes to show off what they have grown. That sense of pride and kudos that comes from sharing your fresh produce with neighbours and loved ones is an incredible mood booster.”

Growing from seed is also a relatively inexpensive hobby, with the number of seeds

– and, ultimately, plants – received via each packet representing good value for money.

“In some of Mr Fothergill’s seed packets you can get up to 2000 seeds and you don’t need to use them all at once,’’ Whitehouse explains. ‘‘Plant want you need, then keep the leftovers until the next season.

“Growing from seed also means you have more varieties available. In Mr Fothergill’s collection, we have more than 700 different flowers, vegetables and herbs on offer.”

For people with only a square-metre balcony, gardening is still a viable option.

“We are very aware that there is a lot less space for gardening as a whole in today’s housing developments,’’ says Whitehouse. ‘‘The traditional quarter-acre block is becoming a thing of the past.

“But you don’t need a huge garden to grow things. Those with limited space are more inclined to grow herbs, leafy greens and tomatoes and capsicums in pots. Hydroponics are also becoming more popular overseas, and increasingly so here.

“With a hydroponic system, which places the plant directly in water with an artificial LED light that emulates the sun, most users are able to grow produce right on their kitchen bench. With hydroponics becoming more commonplace, gardening is becoming more accessible for just about anyone.”

See this article in the e-Edition Here