Welcoming Bluebirds to our Country Home

Posted by Mom on January 5, 2018

Way back as a youngster, I was fascinated by bluebirds. Well, any kind of bird, actually. I roamed about the woods, swamps, and fields searching for bird nests and built up a collection of nests, eggshells, and feathers. But bluebirds, now they were an almost mythical creature.

In hopes of attracting a pair of eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) to our yard, I encouraged (read: nagged) my parents to set up some nest boxes. Although we saw a male bluebird sporadically for a day each spring over the following years, no pair ever set up residence in our nest boxes. Not that the boxes were empty, house wrens and tree swallows took possession, and for a budding naturalist, provided many opportunities for observation.  

Fast forward a few decades and now I am the parent with three little naturalists and another chance to attract bluebirds to a country property. While in University, and dreaming about future bluebird glory, I had picked up a book about bluebirds. I cracked it open once more to see what I could do to fulfill that dream. I followed the advice, set up the next boxes and waited. Just as happened with my parents, we had brief bluebird sightings, but none chose to stay.

We speculated, and later confirmed, that house sparrows were preventing the bluebirds from taking up residence. For me, there is no love lost for these sparrows. Native to Eurasia, house sparrows (Passer domesticus) were intentionally released in New York City to control the caterpillars of the linden moth in 1852. Now these birds occur across North America; not being confined by international borders, their range spreads from the subarctic all the way to southern Panama. The birds are so adaptable and quickly colonize new territory that of all wild birds, the house sparrow is the most widely distributed bird on the planet. In all honesty, the sparrows are not to blame, they are generalists and thrive amid human habitation. We humans introduced them to a brand new continent and proceeded to lay out the welcome mat as our farms and cities spread farther west and north across the continent.

Their success at global domination has earned the house sparrow a bad reputation. The bird is considered a pest and threat to native bird species. House sparrows prefer to use tree cavities as nest sites (though they seem to find gaps between letters in storefront signs to be a wonderful alternative) and are in direct competition with other cavity nesting birds, such as bluebirds. Neither bird actually does the excavating, they leave that to the woodpeckers, who create a new nesting cavity each year, leaving the vacant cavity of last year available. These vacant cavities are a hot commodity, and with their tenacious, bully-like qualities, house sparrows come out on top wherever they compete with native birds (you can find some gruesome images online of bluebirds and swallows pecked to death by aggressive house sparrows). Well-meaning humans erecte nest boxes to encourage wild birds, but often these boxes are suited exactly to the house sparrows taste: ready-made homes close to human habitation.

At our country home, we have neighbours with a farm and several outbuildings, including a run-down barn. This property is the source for our neighbourhood house sparrow population. Come winter, a noisy flock of house sparrows  descends on our bird feeders. When the weather warmed in spring, the flock  breaks up into breeding pairs, and in short order, unwanted tenants look to move into the nest boxes we’ve set up.

We have several nest boxes with the 1½ inch entrance hole that bluebirds prefer. House sparrows prefer that size of entrance hole too. My first attempt to deter the sparrows was to cover the entrance holes with duct tape. While effective, the sparrows only waited for the tape to come off, which it did when the tree swallows arrived looking for nesting sites. My next attempt was to remove a sparrow nest from the box, but this only stimulated the male to turn on his neighbours in a revengeful rampage that resulted in all the nestlings in a tree swallow’s nest being killed by the irate male sparrow. In a desperate third attempt, my husband grabbed his pellet gun and shot at the males as they sat atop the nest boxes. None of these methods succeeded in deterring the house sparrows; so I turned to the internet to show me a way to keep the house sparrows from our nest boxes.

I found the website Sialis.org to be loaded with suggestions. On it I learnt that house sparrows spook easily and an effective way to prevent them from nesting in a nest box is to use monofilament (fishing line) attached to the nest box to “scare” them off. By affixing it to the roof of a nest box in an X pattern, the sparrows will not perch on top of the box, something they do to announce that they have claimed a nest site as their own. The monofilament can also be dangled from the corners of the roof so they hang next to the entrance hole (weighed down with a nut or washer so it won’t become entangled in the entrance hole and harm any occupants) and make the sparrows too leery to enter the box. Furthermore, the monofilament can be strung around the entrance hole in a square shape that will also deter house sparrows from trying to enter the nest box.

I can testify that the monofilament worked! The first year we tried it, We did not have any house sparrows using our nest boxes. Instead, each box was the home to a family of house wrens, tree swallows, or, drum-roll, please, … eastern bluebirds! Apparently the bluebirds were waiting for us to fix the house sparrow problem.

Bluebird glory was finally achieved! Our next dream is to entice purple martins to our property. Dad is already working on their apartment complex. But a challenge awaits… house sparrows like to set up residence in the same apartments as purple martins. Sigh! The battle continues…

Embracing Tea – Part 2

Posted by Mom on November 27, 2017

A few year back I had a lightbulb moment when I realized that I could grow and use my own plants for herbal remedies. We began to plant flowers and herbs specifically for drying and storing to use in future teas.

We’ve grown German Chamomile for the past two years for the purpose of plucking the tiny daisy-like blossoms. Once dried (I do this by leaving them sitting on a tray lined with cheesecloth), I add the blossoms to a jar and keep them ready for anyone with tummy troubles. A tea made by steeping dried chamomile blossoms in warm water contains anti-inflammatories that ease digestive upset. The herbal tea is also useful to anyone looking to ease the discomforts associated with menstrual symptoms or simply needing an immune system boost.


Another help for tummy troubles, and one that is readily accepted by my children, is peppermint tea. Like chamomile, peppermint tea will soothe stomach ailments; concentrated peppermint oil is even used as a treatment for people suffering from IBS. And like chamomile, peppermint can also ease menstrual symptoms and strengthens the immune system. It has the added benefits of relieving pain, increasing bile production, and soothing colicky babies. Oh yeah, all of this while leaving you with fresher breath.

We grow peppermint in a planter box on our deck that provides easy access to the plant for use in our cooking. When peppermint is in the blush of growth I cut off stems for drying. To dry them, I bundle the stems together with an elastic band and put them into a paper bag punched with holes, which I hang upside down to dry. The paper bag is necessary to permit air and moisture to escape while also keeping dust from collecting and catching any broken, dried leaves from the dried herbs. I hang the bags in a dry, warm spot and wait, checking after several weeks to see if the mint is completely dry. When ready, I strip the leaves from the stems and put them into a jar for storage until needed.

We have a ready supply of Echinacea growing in our gardens. Commonly referred to as Big Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea), it’s a common plant in flower gardens. It’s also a plant with a history. The first people to discover and use echinacea were native North Americans. They used the plant to treat snake and insect bites, heal old wounds and burns, and reduce fevers. Sucking or chewing on the root alleviated sore throats, coughs, toothaches, and infections. Pioneers learned from their native neighbours and used the plant as well to treat a range of ailments. Near the end of the 19th century, echinacea’s renown crossed the pond and Europeans were introduced to its healing properties.

This past summer I collected and dried the leaves, buds, and roots of echinacea. I dried them by laying them upon a simply-made drying rack and leaving them for several weeks. The drying rack is also the spot where we dry chamomile and calendula flowers. Once dry, the pieces went into glass jars for storage. Already this year I’ve had several cups of echinacea tea when symptoms of the common cold appear in our house. Echinacea improves the immune system to be able to fight off the cold virus quicker, which lessens the duration of a cold and the severity of its symptoms. We also take echinacea in pill form following their prescribed dosage schedule for the duration of the cold. Echinacea works best when taken at the first sign of a cold and then for the next 7 to 10 days.

Armed with our homegrown chamomile, peppermint, and echinacea dried and ready for steeping, we’re prepared to combat the minor discomforts that the winter season bring our way.

Embracing Tea – Part 1

Posted by Mom on November 23, 2017

I like tea. It’s a simple, soothing drink and it can offer powerful benefits to your physical and emotional health.

The more I learn about herbal medicines, the more I value my tea-sipping habit. I’ve even grown and dried some plants for future sipping; it’s surprisingly simple to do and I find the tea tastier and more aromatic (though that may just be my imagination). At present, I drink tea primarily for the boost it gives to my physical health. I haven’t delved into the teas that specifically address mental health, although herbal teas with ingredients such as St. John’s wort, Lemon Balm, Lavender, or Chamomile will calm the nerves and ease stressful feelings. Mind you, I appreciate the short-term boost from the caffeine I get from in my cup of green or black tea.

Green Tea and Black Tea – Purchased Potency

I start my day off with a mug of green tea and my morning devotion. The caffeine is enough to give me a boost to start the day. While green tea is not the most flavourful of teas, it offers much in the health department; it improves blood flow, helps prevent heart-related issues, helps prevent the formation of plaque that is linked to Alzheimer’s, helps keep blood sugar stable, and helps cell growth. That’s a lot of ‘help’ for the body!

Before it steeps in my mug, green tea undergoes minimal processing; the leaves are picked, steamed, dried, packaged, and shipped. When steeped, the powerful antioxidants within the leaves are released into the hot water for our consumption. I depend on my kettle to heat the water to the proper temperature setting for green tea (175℉) to ensure the tea leaves don’t scald. Adding lemon to a cup of green tea enhances the absorption of antioxidants and, when mixed with honey, produces a tastier drink.

I also enjoy a mid-afternoon cup of black tea, usually around the time when lessons and piano practices are done for the day and I have attended to any garden or chicken chores. Not to be outdone by green tea, black tea also offers a wealth of health benefits. The beverage contains antioxidants and polyphenols that fight disease, work to prevent cancer, support digestive health, and are even beneficial to the hair, skin, and oral health. Drink it up!

I like my black tea with a spoonful of honey and cinnamon (pre-mixed) and a splash of almond milk. I like to think of it as my poor person’s chai latte. As an aside, we keep a container of unpasteurized honey and cinnamon handy and use a teaspoonful per day to help fight off or ease the symptoms of cold viruses. Both honey and cinnamon are antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting. Furthermore, honey coats the throat and can soothe an irritated and sore throat.

Next: Part 2 – Homegrown Herbal Teas

I Blog for Mother Earth News

Posted by Mom on September 11, 2017

If you have any interest in living lighter on the land and becoming more self-sufficient, whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural home, then you should check out Mother Earth News. What started as a bi-monthly magazine in the 1970s has become a multi-media repository of information for those keen on learning how to be more self-reliant. We discovered the magazine several years ago, which led us to the corresponding website where oodles of articles and blog posts are waiting to be discovered.

From Mother Earth News we’ve found tips for keeping chickens, recipes for our garden’s harvest, and ideas for off-grid energy production, among many, many other topics. Knowledgeable people from all over North America write articles or blog posts that provide a wealth of information gained from real-life experiences. We too at Harrold Country Home were recently approved to blog for Mother Earth News. Last week (while camping with the family) my first official post describing the beginnings of our permaculture orchard was placed on montherearthenws.com. You can check out my Bio page too! I’m excited to be writing posts for both Harrold Country Home and Mother Earth News.

Country Pets

Posted by Grandma on July 20, 2017

I came back from holidays to find a grand-daughter I didn’t recognize. Her face was swollen and bright red, almost purple. The poor girl’s eyes were tiny slits and blisters covered large areas. An allergic reaction to poison ivy is what I was told. Mom and dad donned rubber gloves and went in search of the culprit. Plants were pulled out by the roots and disposed of in plastic bags and some needed to be sprayed as they wrapped themselves around trees.

I was amazed at the damage done to the poor girl and wondered how? Apparently the chickens wandered into a patch of poison ivy and while carrying and cuddling one of her favourites she rubbed it on her face. I would say she learned a lesson but she loves those chickens. I suggested to mom it was time to get a family pet. The children are four, six and nine, what better age, but another responsibility is not what was needed. The children and their tutoring, the chickens and the gardens are a heavy enough burden she said and I agreed.

Right now baby toads can be found hopping along in the grass. The children run around collecting them and place them in an old fish tank on the porch. They have also placed rocks on the bottom in some shallow water and added some greenery. They collect food for them and watch them hop around. Every night after they go to bed mom goes out and releases them only for it to start again the next day. This I know won’t last much longer as the toads will grow and escape to the wetlands across the road minus the ones that turn into compost under grandpa’s lawn tractor.

Of Chickens and Children

Posted by Mom on June 27, 2017

Children need something to love. Something that they can give special attention to. Something that thrives under the care they shower upon it. Pets and young siblings are wonderful things for children to love. Unfortunately, at our house, our two daughters have neither a pet nor a younger sibling who appreciates their coddling (4 year old brother wants to be a big boy, not a baby). Not to be thwarted, however, they have set their sights upon our chickens.

Unlike a cat or dog, chickens are neither cuddly nor appreciative of any attention. Despite their ignorance of the love lavished upon them, the girls do their best  to wrangle the hens for some cuddle time. While the hens run around squawking at the indignity, the girls chase after them, grab them by the tail, pin them down and then swoop them up into their arms. A quick “put down the chicken” from mom or dad sees the hen thrust away with another indignant squawk and a ruffle of its feathers.

To us adults, one chicken is like another. But to the girls, every hen is unique and distinguishable from the others by the pattern of her feathers and the length and degree of floppiness of her comb. Each hen also has a name. To my knowledge, we have hens named Laura, Flora V and Flora C, Lydia, Fuzzy, Pocahontas and Jezebel. Our rooster, dubbed Sir John, is truly a chivalrous individual. During the first two months he was docile and the girls picked him up just as they did the hens. That didn’t last long.

Just recently, he has shown aggressiveness toward the men at our country home by running at them and trying to hit them with his wings. The children are now cautions of what they do outside and keep an eye out for him when the flock is free-ranging. This change in the rooster has prompted a change in the girls; they are very cautious when near the hens and no longer feel entitled to pick them up for cuddles. They have also been stranded on a table, slide, and in a tree because of their over-active imaginations and healthy respect for Sir John.

Sir John is living up to his name; not only is he becoming more protective of his flock of 30 hens, but he is also a model of chivalry. When we bring out a bowl of kitchen scraps, the hens are trampling over one another to get to the pickings, while Sir John stands back and watches. When ranging around the property, Sir John always has a following of hens. He also has, what seems to me, a very altruistic relationship with his hens. When he comes across some tasty morsel, be it an insect, worm, or food scrap, he won’t gobble it up himself. Instead, he has a particular series of clucks that summon any hen nearby to come and enjoy his find. The hens run in and eat up the treat while he stands over them and watches.

I suppose the hens are glad to have their knight in shining feathers protecting them from the two-legged dragons that used to sweep in and carry them away. We’re also grateful that we no longer have to wonder where the girls are and what hen needs rescuing.

Easing Those Aches and Pains

Posted by Mom on June 5, 2017

We get our share of bumps, bruises and scrapes while working and playing at our country home. Our preferred treatments are herbal or homeopathic. I’ve outlined two of our go-to remedies below.

Our first treatment, comfrey salve, we use for skin irritations. Luckily, the previous owners planted comfrey next to the compost bin, as its leaves can be tossed into the compost heap to accelerate decomposition. We discovered that comfrey also improves soil, but more pertinent to this post, it also works wonders for bruises, rashes, bug bites and other skin irritations. Made into a salve and then spread over the affected spot, the comfrey speeds healing. Comfrey should not be taken internally or used on open wounds. Here’s a good read to learn more about comfrey from Mother Earth News

Since the salve we make uses dried comfrey leaves, we begin by cutting and drying the comfrey. The best time to harvest comfrey (and any herb for that matter) is in the morning after the dew has dried from the leaves. We then lay the comfrey on something that allows air to circulate fully around the leaves, and place that out in the sun (last year we used a piece of a wooden pallet). We let the comfrey sit in the sun for several days until no trace of moisture remains. At night, we put the comfrey under a shelter to prevent the dew from settling on it, then place it back in the sun the next day to continue curing. Once dry, we crush the leaves and store them until we can make the salve. If you want to give it a try, I recommend following the directions to make the salve posted by Creative Christian Mama. If you need a source of dried comfrey, we can help you out.

Our second treatment, a poultice, we use to relieve pain. Dad Harrold aggravated a tendon in his elbow through the chore of splitting firewood. This injury is also known as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, but we refer to it as chopper’s elbow.

We came across a recipe for a poultice for pain relief and mixed up a new batch to try. We spread it on the elbow, wrapped it in plastic wrap and left it for the recommended 30 minutes. Afterward, Dad was able to use his elbow without much discomfort for the remainder of the day. We applied the poultice again on the next two mornings. The elbow still causes him some discomfort, but it hasn’t been as debilitating since we used the poultice. You can find the recipe for the Spicy Pain Relieving Poultice below 

Comfrey salve is also beneficial for muscle pulls or strains when smoothed over the injured area.

But… sometimes things happen that make you appreciate modern medicine. I was collecting some leaf mulch to put into the chicken run with a narrow-tined pitchfork. I jabbed the pitchfork into some leaves near my feet and managed to also put it through my rubber boot and through a toe. Since my last tetanus shot was 10 years ago, it was off to the walk-in clinic. I received my shot and some antibiotic pills and cream. As a rule, I don’t like to take antibiotics, but they do have their place and time, and this was one of them. I tried to compensate by upping my intake of probiotics.

Dad Harrold assured me that he would collect the leaf mulch from now on, since he has steel-toed boots and more presence of mind. However, I think he is over-confident about his presence of mind since the first time he went to gather some mulch he wore open-toed Crocs!

Spicy Pain Relieving Poultice

1 tablespoon aloe gel
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons ground  turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 

Blend all ingredients into a paste. Spread the paste over the affected area and hold in place using plastic wrap. Wash hands with soap and water as the cayenne can burn sensitive areas. Remove the paste after 30 minutes.

Note: Turmeric can dye fabrics and will stain clothing. It will also temporarily dye skin yellow. 

Source: Linda White, 2014. Spice Away Soreness, Mother Earth News Food and Garden Series: Guide to Healing Herbs. pp 61-63.

Bats in the Barn!

Posted by Mom on March 15, 2017

In the summer we share our country home with bats. We welcome the work these Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fuscus) do to control the insect populations. Living across from a large wetland and having a lot of shady gardens, we have an overabundance of mosquitos. During wetter summers they torment us to no end! Given that the bats will eat their own body weight in flying insects during a single night, we gladly welcome these bats.

The mama bats use the barn’s loft as a safe place to raise their young. Typically, such maternity colonies of Big Brown Bats consist of 20 to 300 bats with the majority of the females being related to one another. One evening in May we counted the bats exiting the back of our barn and tallied over 80. Since the females give birth from May through June, all of those bats were mothers. The youngsters still within the barn likely numbered between 80 and 160 (given that the eastern populations of Big Brown Bats tend to have twins, a number closer to 160 young was likely). Our barn could have housed a Big Brown Bat colony of 240 individuals!

We found ourselves in a quandary; we wanted the bats to continue to live alongside us, but did not want them living in our barn and leaving their toxic mess behind. We also know that bats are under attack from a fungus (White Nose Syndrome) that affects their ability to hibernate, leading infected bats to prematurely awaken from hibernation and subsequently die from cold and lack of food. The fungus spreads rapidly throughout the bats as they hibernate together. Being inclined to promoting ecological integrity at our country home, we did not wish to contribute to the demise of the bats by adding habitat destruction to their gauntlet for survival.

A potential problem of removing the colony is that the females will need somewhere to raise their young and if they cannot find an alternative they may leave the area. Their absence will cause a spike in the local insect population for years afterward. To encourage our bats to stay, Dad Harrold built four bat boxes, which female Big Brown Bats can use as maternity colonies. An added attractant to bring the bats to these new boxes is the aroma of the wood… the boxes were built from pine boards recovered from the barn’s loft – complete with bat dropping stains. Hopefully, the returning mama bats will find the smell of these boxes irresistible.

During a mild day in March we hung the new boxes around our property. We had two bat boxes on the south side of our barn which bats already use, so we added another box to the west side of the barn. The other three boxes we hung from large trees where the sun will shine upon them and warm them. Big Brown Bats are traditionally forest dwellers, so we hope they will readily take to the new boxes when they find they cannot enter the barn.

We’re looking forward to spring to learn if our mama bats will move into the boxes. Here’s hoping we still have bats wheeling through the twilight at our country home!

… though I don’t think the Screech Owl roosting on the top of a bat box will be very welcoming.

The Sentinel

Posted by Mom on February 2, 2017

I imagine our tree beginning as a feeble seedling struggling to put down roots in the shady forest floor a hands-throw away from the Old Detroit Road. Through its first years it only produces a handful of leaves while waiting for the one-in-a-million chance that a giant, towering above it, will topple. And then it really happens; but not at the hand of wind, ice or old age, but by the thwack of axes.

Recognizing the Old Detroit Road’s military importance, the government of Upper Canada soon upgrade it to a corduroy road; an improvement requiring copious amounts of trees. Soon giants fall in the forest around our struggling seedling. With the sunlight and rain pouring in upon it, our seedling quickly spreads it roots and branches and races to fill the gap. The War of 1812 begins and our tree is witness to British and American forces moving along the road. But all of this is unknown to the tree and it does what it is designed to do; it reaches for the light and grows.

Traffic increases along the road following the war and now stagecoaches, freight wagons and private carriages pass by our tree. But the bone-jarring rides along the corduroy surface precipitate improvements. Our tree is once again passed over in preference for the pines that become planks for the improved roadway, known now as the Stone Road. This new road permits quicker settlement to the area and behind our tree a family establishes itself. In quick succession, our tree’s neighbours all but vanish as the family clears the land and begins to farm. With minimal competition our tree enjoys the power of the sunlight that fuels its growth.

Traffic passing our tree continues to increase and again the roadway requires improvement. If it were aware, our tree could watch the workers pulling up the planks, raking gravel and flattening the roadway. The smoother surface allows farmers to take their produce to markets and now a variety of carts, wagons and buggies pass before our tree as the surrounding countryside becomes more pastoral. The bustling roadway draws the family, and after decades of clearing land and building their farm, they choose to move closer to the Stone Road. One day oxen appear; straining to pull a two-story brick house on log rollers. The oxen draw closer and then turn from the road and pull the house to its new location behind our tree. Over time the tree witnesses the coming and going of the farm’s barns, outbuildings and greenhouses, as well as horse-drawn wagons, tractors, cars and trucks as daily life and farming practices modernize.

The tree celebrates its first centennial as bus services replace stagecoaches and the first personal automobiles appear along the roadway. World War I comes and goes and tractors, cars and trucks replace the horse-drawn traffic. The Depression settles in and the road becomes a make-work project. Its new paved new condition deserves a new name: Brant County Highway #53. World War II arrives and agricultural production in the surrounding landscape intensifies. As the decades continue to march on our tree just keeps on growing ever higher and ever wider. It sees five generations of the pioneering family use the land, modernize, and eventually downsize. It sees the last of the family leave for the final time and a succession of new owners take over. Our tree celebrates its second centennial amid the uncertainty of Y2K.

Inspiring Child-Friendly Gardens

Posted by Mom on January 11, 2017

We received a book about children and gardening as a gift; and I am so glad we did! The author is a gardener with a passion: inspiring children to enjoy the creativity, beauty and usefulness of gardening. The book has inspired my daughter and I to get our hands dirty.

The book, Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy, begins with an annotated list of the top 20 garden plants for children. It then proceeds to describe nine themed gardens, such as the Snacking and Sipping Garden, the Flowery Maze and the Sunflower House. For each of these gardens, Lovejoy describes the garden’s purpose, lists its plants and how to care for them, presents the garden’s plan and lists activities for children to help them explore their garden. The book ends with some basic tips for planting and tending gardens. Throughout the book is beautiful hand-painted artwork by the author. When I first flipped through the book it was the artwork that drew me in. I found the text to be just as enticing. For a family with an interest in gardening, this book is a gem.

My interest in the book was renewed with the arrival of our first seed catalogue from William Dam Seeds. Despite the fact that our gardens are blanketed with snow, the bright colourful images of the catalogue inspired my imagination to paint serene, colourful garden scenes; it had an almost hypnotic effect on me as I paged through. I’ve since circled plants in the catalogue that Lovejoy lists in her book and that I would like to grow in our gardens. I requested Dad take me on a trip to William Dam’s store as our Valentine’s Day date.

Our youngest daughter shows the keenest interest in gardening. She sits beside me as I flip through the catalogue and circles the flowers she likes best. She was very excited to find one that shares her name. I like to spend this time with her. We share the same interest and it brings us closer to one another. Gardening is therapeutic for the body and mind and having my daughter get excited and dream about floral possibilities is special to me.

I enjoy gardening, especially when I consider some of the benefits of the activity. Here is a quick summary of the benefits of spending time in the dirt with plants:

  1. Relieves stress (reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone)
  2. Builds immunity (direct exposure to dirt and plants boost the immune system)
  3. Provides exercise (3 hours of moderate gardening = 1 hour gym workout)
  4. Stimulates the brain (daily gardening can reduce risk of dementia)
  5. Improves diet (growing veggies makes us more conscious of the food we consume)

Given those benefits, I’m going to be tinkering in the soil for as long as I am able. If I can get my children hooked on gardening too, then I’ll be a happy mom. As for my youngest daughter and I, we’re planning to try the Sunflower House garden this summer. If we succeed, then all of my little ones will see that another benefit of gardening is creating a safe place for imagination and play. 

Happy Gardening!


Harding, A. (2011, July 8). Why Gardening Is Good For Your Health. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/

Jacobs, R. (2014, September 14). 6 Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening. Retrieved from http://learn.eartheasy.com/2014/09/6-unexpected-health-benefits-of-gardening/

Lovejoy, Sharon, 1999. Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children. Workman Publishing: New York.