Technically it is still spring, despite the extreme heat we have already experienced. And with the rain that arrived earlier this week and the promise of more rain coming our way, we thought this would be the ideal time to discuss …wait for it, gardening!
So we are well aware that not everyone likes the whole gardening, dirt under the fingernails, green thumb thing. Personally, it does not matter how hard I try, I tend to kill plants rather than keep them alive. However I still love the idea of gardening and keep trying. And it turns out that gardening is actually good for you! So without further ado, we are going to make our point by offering five reasons why you should start a garden in Namibia, right now!
1. Gardening relieves stress! In the world we live in everything is fast paced and intense, which leads to elevated levels of stress. When you work in the garden, your stress levels actually decrease and your cortisol levels – a hormone that is linked to your mood, immune system and heart function – are kept in check.
2. A healthy heart is often linked to physical activities, like gardening. This activity offers the ideal source of moderate-intensity exercise and a quick ten minutes in the sun (without sunscreen) will give you enough vitamin D to reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and various cancers.
3. It turns out that having dirt under your finger nails is actually a good thing! Who would have guessed? Studies have shown that the ‘friendly’ soil bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, actually aids in fighting the symptoms of psoriasis, allergies and asthma: all of which may stem from a weak immune system.
4. And for those a may not be thrilled with the idea of a gym, it may be interesting to know that just an hour of light gardening and yard work can burn up to 330 calories! And you get the added bonus of fresh air while you work.
5. Finally, studies have found that just by being surrounded by flowers, you are actually improving your health. The results of the study showed that flowers are a natural mood moderator and have an immediate effect on happiness, and enable us to make more intimate connections with other people.
Besides these health benefits, gardening is also a great support for the environment. Now that we have convinced you to get your hands dirty, here is the ideal way to do so in our Namibian climate…
First off, Namibia has a very harsh, dry climate. So when you are picking plants for your garden, look for tough little buggers that do not need massive amounts of water. The plant type we always turn to is the succulents group.
Now just because these plants are strong does not mean they can thrive on their own. They often still need to be supported to survive, as in the case of the Quiver trees in the south. The Gondwana Collection has actually created a small nursery that focuses on supporting the quiver trees to reach maturity.
Back to succulents, they come in all shapes and sizes and can grow in various climates, both indoors and outside. On top of that, they are living art! Whether you plant one into a vintage tea cup or decide to go the vertical direction (as we have done at The Delight Hotel), these little plants are super versatile. And they only need to be watered once a week. If you are interested in starting a succulent garden, there is a fantastic article on how to get started.
If you have any gardening tips you would like to share, we invite you to leave your suggestions in the comment section below.
Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.