The Benefits of Being in the Garden
Friday, 18th September 2015
Spring is an amazing time in the garden, as Yang emerges from the extremes of Yin we see blossoms and growth everywhere. Liver energy is highest during Spring giving us the momentum to move forward into Summer and the opening of the heart energy. Enjoy spending some time in the garden this Spring – you’ll be surprised what you can grow even in the tiniest of spaces.
Gardening is also good for your mental health – study’s have show time spent gardening can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. “When we grow food and flowers, we are engaging with the natural world at a pace that provides a welcome antidote to the stresses of modern life.” If you’re interested the full study can be found here. As gardening is a gentle form of exercise it can help with rehabilitation after injury or sickness. Growing veggies is also a great activity to do with kids to teach patience, self-sufficiency and healthy eating habits, check out The Sage Garden for some great ideas!Even if you don’t have a large space you’ll still be able to get some veggies and herbs growing in pots on your balcony or even window still. If you have an established veggie garden you’ll notice spinach, lettuce, broccoli and peas are ready to harvest in Spring. Keep an eye out for them at local markets and fruit & veg shops as well.
Veggies to Eat in Spring
Asparagus is best planted in a garden bed about 30cm deep and 30cm apart. Once established asparagus will last for many years, just make sure you keep them clear of weeds! You can roast, steam, fry or bake asparagus stalks. In Chinese Medicine asparagus is used to clear heat from the body, to detoxify and promote blood circulation. Also effective treatment for constipation, cancer, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, arteriosclerosis.
Rocket this is another fast growing seed, plant in rows and thin out seedlings as they grow. Sprinkle the seeds in the garden or your can grown them in a pot, plant early in spring for a summer harvest. Rocket is lovely in salads, taken to clear heat and yang and dry dampness, as a blood tonic, and to clear Heat & Yang.
Radishes are a great garden project to do with kids as they grow so fast- you’ll be pulling up roots just weeks after you plant seeds. Radishes add a peppery zing to salads and garnishes, you can also pickle radishes in red-wine vinegar – here’s Martha Stewart Quick Pickled Radish Recipe. We use radish seeds (lai fu zi) in Chinese medicine to kick-start digestion and clear phlegm. They are incredibly pungent but oh-so effective.
Herbs to Eat in Spring
Parsley is best planted in mid-spring. You can add parsley leaves to salads, soups, stews, casseroles, and omelets or add as a fresh garnish. Parsley is a digestive aid it’s gentle warming nature removes stagnant food from the body and regulates flow of chi.
Fennel is ready to plant now, it needs a bit of space so plant about 50cm’s apart. You can eat all parts of the fennel plant! The leaves are great in salads and in cooking with meat and fish; the seeds have a sharper taste and are often used in curries; you can also eat the fennel bulb. In clinic we use fennel seeds to dispel cold and alleviate pain, regulate qi and harmonize stomach. You can also re-grow fennel from the left over bulb from the supermarket. (Check our more veggies you can re-grow here.)
Mint needs a bit of water so keep an eye on your plants, it grows well in a pot so it is perfect for a balcony garden or terrace. Add mint to water or drink as a tea, it’s also delicious sprinkled over fresh fruit or cooked with lamb. In TCM mint is associated with the Lung and Liver meridians and is used to expel wind heat and remove liver qi stagnation.
If you’re just starting out with your garden herbs are a great place to start. In early spring you can plant seeds or seedlings for basil, sage, parsley, mint, fennel, dill, coriander and chives by Summer you’ll be the envy of the neighbourhood! For your chance to win a Little Veggie Co Herb Seed Pack go to our FACEBOOK page to enter our competition.
For a good Liver clearing Spring recipe try Annalise’s Spring Couscous served with grilled fish or spring lamb or on its own!