Gardening Is Therapy

It’s been a great weekend here of sun, fun, and PrimalCon of course. In returning to reality yesterday, I was checking the news and seeing some of you out there are bracing for yet another round of winter’s jest. My condolences – seriously. I’ll admit I was happy to forgo the six month long Maine winters for California years ago. Nonetheless, there are still aspects of Northern life I miss and admire. I remember, for example, the almost manic excitement with which people awaited spring. Their fervor for planning the year’s garden seemed wholly inverse to the short and still relatively cool growing season. I don’t know how many of you are gardeners, but I’m all for using the term loosely. Whatever gets us down in the dirt, digging in the midst of all those fine microbes, is work worth doing (without the toxic chemicals of course). An older neighbor of mine (with the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen) always tells me gardening is “good for the soul.” Although I don’t have an ounce of the talent she does, I’d have to agree. It only gets better though. Research demonstrates it’s also good for the mind and body – in ways we might not expect.

Little surprise, I’d say, that researchers in Taiwan found one of the biggest motivations participants cited for gardening was the “escape.” I would venture to guess this is a universal motivation. Life begins in the garden, so they say. The rest – worry, conflict, stress – simply dissolves in the landscape.

In another Netherlands based study, stressed participants were divided into two groups – one which read indoors and one which gardened in their allotment plots. Although both groups demonstrated a drop in cortisol (gardening participants showing a much steeper drop) during their respective activities, the gardening group fared much better in terms of mood, reporting a complete turn around by the end of the experiment.

Want more? In a Texas A&M survey, gardeners reported more physical activity, claimed more energy, and rated their overall health higher than non-gardeners. Those who described themselves as gardeners showed a higher level of life satisfaction than those who said they didn’t garden.

Researchers have particularly honed in on the health impact of gardening for older adults. Numerous studies demonstrate both physical and mental health benefits for older adults, including higher vegetable intake, better hand strength, and higher self-esteem.

Then there’s the dirt itself – oh, the lovely, rich, misunderstood soil. Gardeners and dirt enthusiasts, you know what I’m talking about. The sensory pleasure of soft, cool crumbling between ungloved fingers, the physical, primordial delight of digging and absorbing oneself in the earth. Even if your horticultural results are nothing to write home about (I count myself in this camp), there’s gratification to be found in the endeavor. In the midst of that dark, nitrogen-esque smell, you’re kicking up some potent Mycobacterium vaccae bacteria, known to stimulate serotonin releasing neurons in the brain. Dirt: the natural anti-depressant – literally. We could all use a little more dirt in our lives, I think.

As true gardening enthusiasts will tell you, gardening is so much more than just maintaining the yard (as so many of us grudgingly perform). It’s the sun on your shoulders, the nurturing of seedlings, the thoughtful honing (and pruning) of a creative vision, the witness of a living, growing force. It’s a labor of love and – for many – a show of true artistry. Gardening is a deeply sensory experience, and I think it touches something innate in the human spirit – the need for nature, to be sure, but something else as well. We evolved knowing the land, identifying with our home terrain (even within the context of roaming short distances for better hunting and gathering potential). We developed an intimate connection not with nature as a concept but with the specific land that nurtured and challenged us. Knowledge of our terrain was power – for foraging and survival. When we devote ourselves to gardening, I think we recreate that close association, that intimate understanding of the land, that raw, unsentimental mixing of earth and effort. It’s an endeavor so different from our everyday lives in this age. An escape, indeed.

Gardeners, gardener wannabees, aimless but well-intentioned putterers of the backyard, what say you? Are you chomping at the bit or already elbow deep in the soil? What do you enjoy the most? How do you see your gardening/farming ventures in the context of your Primal life? Thanks for reading today.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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82 thoughts on “Gardening Is Therapy”

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  1. I am starting a vegetable garden for the first time. Up till now I’ve been an apartment dweller, but now have a large yard with room for veggies. So far all I have done is prep the area and clean up lots of leaves. The time I have spent outside has been wonderful and very therapeutic. Getting the plants started will be even better! I’m even making myself leave the iPod inside so I can enjoy the birds and other natural sounds.

    1. This is my second year of really gardening… the first year was so much fun! I can’t wait to see what this year holds.
      I agree, the time outside is so therapeutic, in more ways than one. What better way to get exercise (lift heavy things!), get vitamin D, and get all the benefits of dirt that Mark mentioned above!
      We just started putting plants in the ground, and I am so excited for all the fresh veggies in a few weeks!
      Good luck with your garden this year!

  2. I don’t have a yard; I have a garden. In my mind there is a big difference. A yard is merely a space around a house. While a garden is a place filled with plants and wildlife that may or may not contain a house.

  3. I have never seen my kids eat as healthy as they did when we turned half of our backyard into a garden! We cannot wait for our next house with a big backyard to raise our own chickens and grow,grow,grow…under this amazing Arizona sun.

  4. Gardening is so totally where it’s at, on so many different levels.

    I’m with Tim. I don’t have a yard. I have a Garden. My garden is filled with flower beds, vegetable beds, a forest and open grassy areas – even a bog! Some of them don’t require my involvement to a very large degree, and that’s fine, but the flower and veggie beds? I am out there every day, nearly.
    I cherish the opportunity to connect, on a very intimate level, with each plant, and many of the animals in my garden. I am aware of where the deer bedded down, what the slugs, earthworms and pillbugs are up to in each bed, what birds are mating, nesting, laying, or migrating thru.
    I also get to examine most every plant, each day. Dormant, leafing out, flowering, setting seed, in need of help or restraint… I feel that I have a very close connection with the nature surrounding my home for creating and maintaining such a garden. That alone does wonders for the soul.
    I find gardening to be very primal, from a workout perspective. A couple hours weeding, chop down a tree, dig a ditch or regrade a slope – all very taxing, physical work where I “lift heavy things”
    Perhaps most important, and rewarding however, is the sustenance. I derive unsurpassed beauty and excellent nutrition from my garden, I enjoy the opportunity to engage my mind, body, spirit, and neighborhood, and I get to be in complete control – and all that for a minimun of input.

  5. I can’t until I have a yard to fill with fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers (and a few chickens!)…in the mean time, I have an apartment patio that doesn’t get enough sun to harbor anything but shade-tolerant flowers and herbs…but the coolest thing happened over the weekend–My boyfriend and I were planting our newest garden additions and getting rid of older plants that we’d lost to the elements…there was a ‘weed’ growing in an old tomato pot…I thought it might be fun to transplant it and see what it turned into. When I pulled it out of the soil, we realized that it was an acorn that had grown into a tiny, 8-leaved oak sprout! How cool to think that if I cared for it, it could end up being a giant oak tree in front of our house that our grandkids play under…

  6. “When we devote ourselves to gardening, I think we recreate that close association, that intimate understanding of the land, that raw, unsentimental mixing of earth and effort.”

    I wholeheartedly agree! I’ve never been able to clearly articulate what made me want to take on the challenge of turning my urban yard into a homestead, complete with chickens and a vegetable garden. Something about it reminds me that there is more to being human than a corporate job or the things I can buy. It reminds me that I belong to nature too.

  7. I’ve got some seeds started in my kitchen window sill, I’m picking up two new beehives on May 14th, and I’m planning on building as many raised beds as I can afford this Spring and Summer. I can’t wait! Eventually I hope our little acre of land can produce a significant portion of our food. We’ve been enjoying eggs from our little flock of hens and ducks for the last four years, so it’s time to step it up a bit 🙂

  8. This will be my second year having a garden and I can’t wait. The real fun was having my then 3 yo daughter help me. She loved to pick and eat cherry tomatoes. She would carry the bag as I picked peppers. It was a lot of fun and I am counting the days down that I can buy my seedlings and get them in the ground.

  9. My mom has always been an avid gardener, but I never really got it until I started living more “primally”.. Now while I’m running around sourcing grass-fed beef and pastured eggs, having a garden seems kinda cool.. (Unfortunately, I currently live in an apartment..)

  10. My dear mother loves… FLOWERS. Thats great but she also is not a fan of watering them at night! They look nice but doesn’t food look more appealing?

    We grew some tomatoes, mint, basil last year but hopefully I can get her to grow MORE. More food, less flowers. We have a huge backyard. She would get TONS of help. Keep growing them flowers and, well, get less help.

    One of my goals this year is to “reconnect” with the Earth. I want to get my hands dirty and plant a tomato plant, cucumber plant or whatever. Ive never really done it before but I agree that it can be amazing for both the mind and the body.

    1. I mix flowers and veggies. It’s attractive AND it really draws in the pollinators. I also let some plants, like lettuce or parsley or cabbage, go to “seed” which helps draw in the beneficial insects.

      There have been reports locally of gardens having reduced yields due to really low numbers of pollinators. Not in my yard. It’s always hopping and buzzing—really fascinating to watch. I find watching a bee methodically working a blossomed artichoke very soothing, and even meditative.

      1. Check out permaculture… they talk about mixing all manner of plants together to form groups of plants beneficial to each other, designed to a) pull nutrients out of the soil, b) add nutrients back into the soil, c) provide other plants with shade or mulch, and d) to promote growth of all the plants within the group. It’s actually quite fascinating.

      2. Here too. I love having flowers in amongst the veggies. Some of ’em are even edible flowers–it doesn’t get much better than that!

        1. Thanks for the responses guys! I will have to let my mom know about this and hopefully we can mix in some more veggies within the flowers and even plant some edible flowers!

        2. I don’t have much space but still added some “companion plants” with edible flowers to my vegetable garden. I am looking forward to a big salad topped with some pretty and yummy flowers.

    2. Try and look around and find out which edible plants are nice looking, that might interest her. There are so many beautiful types of edible plants. Bright red lettuce, colourific mangold etc. The sky”s the limit, really.

      I know you (and nobody else here) are into beans, but if your mother isn’t primal there are some types of beans that have the loveliest flowers, and they are a natural re-fertilizer for the ground.

  11. I’m totally a lazy gardener. I don’t get down ont he ground. Helps that we have raised bed gardens 😛
    I love it though. Love watching the seeds that I planted grow 😀 I’m such a hobbit!
    One bed has strawberries (which we’ve gotten a few ripened ones from so far). Young blueberrie bushes that probably won’t produce for at least another year. Raspberry, mint, radishes (have had a few in a salad), carrots, cilantro, and tomato plants that are coming up from the previous year’s fruit (I didn’t plant them this year).
    The other raised bed garden has green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and a jalapeno plant.
    Inside, I’ve gotten 3 apple seeds to sprout, along with an apple pear seed to sprout. Love it! heh

  12. I am writing a 30 day guide to establishing an organic garden with a friend of mine (she’s the expert, I have no idea.)

    I got her to sign up for the idea because I so wanted to learn myself and was simply overwhelmed as to how to do it.

    But broken down into small bite-sized steps, I realize how simple it is. I can’t wait to put her ideas into action.

    1. That’s very cool. I’ve been writing on gardening as well, particularly along the lines of permaculture principles. My FL yard almost feeds the family at this point. The 30-day guide sounds like a great idea – I’d like to read it!

  13. I have had a vegetable garden most years since the 1970’s. I like growing food but in every location I have gardened, something comes along to make it difficult.

    There was the grass in NM that I tenaciously dug up, sifting through every bit of dirt to get all the roots out,then piled on 2 feet of straw. Grass loved that. Grew bigger than ever.

    One autumn I caught an armada of small wagon toting children in the act of stealing all my pumpkins.

    In another location, a vine that threatened to enter my house and capture my children, took over the garden. Impossible to eradicate without weapons of mass destruction.

    My present location has another variety of grass at least as tough as the NM grass. As we speak it is threatening to take over the asparagus patch.

    And then there are the black flies that time their arrival just when it is time to plant. They might be the worst of all. We’ve also acquired some tomato loving deer in the last year.

    We have a local grower that grows fantastic organic produce. I think I will depend on him for most of my veggies this year. We will grow asparagus, garlic, swiss chard and fight the deer for tomatoes this season.

    1. Have you tried solarizing before planting? You simply lay black plastic over the soil for a couple of weeks — the heat encourages weed seeds to sprout, and then they die for lack of light. You still have to keep up with the weeding once you take off the plastic and plant your veggies, though. Another help is to frame the bed, like a raised bed, though it doesn’t actually have to be raised. That keeps the grass runners out.

  14. This year I am starting my largest vegetable garden yet. I already have over 400 seedlings under the grow light in my basement, and they are taking off! It is a cheery reminder that the snow that we (still!) have on hte ground will soon dissipate.

    Gardening for me is a relaxing endeavor and a way to see tangible, concrete results from my work – literally, the fruits of my labor! It is a sharp and welcome contrast from my regular job, which gives me little gratification and few visible results.

    And of course it fits wonderfully into my frugal primal lifestyle! With such a huge harvest, I am going to be spending the month of August freezing berries, canning all sorts of fruits, veggies, and salsas, lacto-fermenting sauerkraut and salsa – you name it! I will also be storing a ton of squash in the makeshift root cellar. It should be enough to feed us until the next growing season.

    We are expecting a baby in the fall, and it is very reassuring for me to know that when we transition from breastmilk to solid foods, his first vegetables and fruits (which, admittedly, will merely be a garnish to his orgainc pastured egg yolks and organic grass-fed pureed meat from the family farm) will be totally organic and from the garden that I tended.

  15. With the unseasonable cold up here in Washington, we’ve started our seeds for our garden with limited success. This is not a good thing as last year was also lousy – weather wise. Two cold spring seasons in a row make for sad and sorry gardens.

    Robb Wolf is pushing the idea of gardens in every yard, patio, whatever. “Get to know your food” definitely seems to be thematic this year.

    1. Agree! Even my snap peas are slow to get started and they like the cooler temps. Lost a few perennials and a tree I have had for years to the constant colder weather we have had the last two years.

  16. hmmm …gardening…that’s not such a hunter gatherer activity is it? 😉

    1. Not so! If you think that hunter-gatherers didn’t plant seeds from the foods they ate, you’re mistaken. They may not have tended them heavily, but they still planted stuff. It’s a hedge bet. “This tastes good, and I want more of it, so I’m gonna drop this seed in a place that I’ll be able to check on it again and again and eat the good stuff that comes off of it.”

      Additionally, this is not reversion to hunter-gatherer roots so much as using historical templates to modify the modern ethos of diet and exercise commonly found in Western society into a healthier, more pragmatic, and ultimately less mechanized methodology.

    2. No, it’s not, not really anyway.

      Sorry, that was vague.

      Anbyway, Aboriginal people up here in Canada thought of themselves as stewards of the land. They practiced controlled burns in area to encourage new plants to grow, particularily blueberries would be well a couple of years down the road.

      Some tribes in current day Ontario had large areas of rice cultivation. They didn’t do much other than create conditions in which the rice could flourish.

    3. Well, it’s kinda hard to “gather” naturally growning food plants in suburbia! I just like to think that I am returning the land to its natural state before yards and streets.

  17. Counting the days until I can flee this hot, dry city (Houston) and get to my farm in TN. It’s hot there, too, already, but at least it rains sometimes. I already have a garden started there during my visit in March, and I am going to plant a lot more in the next month when I get there.

  18. The beauty of living in California…year around gardening. Planning, planting, caring for…I love it all. Except, the lawn. THAT I can do without.

    1. You could always take out the lawn and put in clover or native bunch grasses mixed with short plants. There are lots to choose from native to California. It’s more beautiful than a lawn with no mowing needed.
      Or get poultry, they’ll mow your lawn for you.

  19. i’m a first time gardener in downtown chicago and i’ve got a cute little patio out front. so far (living inside currently since we had snow on the ground just yesterday morning) i’ve got a spring lettuce mixture and a whole lot of spices — basil, rosemarry, thyme, chives, sage, peppermint and cilantro.

    it’s an incredible feeling to pick herbs off of the plants and cut them up for your dinner 🙂

  20. I am a horticulturist and recent PB convert. I agree that gardening is such a primal activity. When I was growing up, I used to love to go in my mum’s greenhouse–that warm, earthy, glorious smell is one I will never forget, and it’s what inspired me to choose horticulture as my profession. I love the smell of dirt.

  21. What a timely post. I just headed off a meltdown by my 5-year-old by sending her out into our garden to pick tulips and dig in the dirt! She is happily getting herself dirty now, bathed in sunshine. Our garden isn’t much – we just have a teeny-tiny townhouse yard – but it’s enough to provide hours of quiet play for a child, respite and beauty for me, and a home for bugs, plants & hummingbirds.

    Plus my rhubarb is almost ready… 🙂

  22. We are getting supplies now to start some raised bed “square foot” gardens. First time for us… I’m excited actually although it is mostly for the practicality of it all. If I can get good veg for a lot cheaper than buying it in the store then I have more money to buy good beef/pork/etc. We’re also putting in a duck run to harvest eggs along the same idea…

  23. I’m relatively new to the gardening thing. This will be my 3rd year, so far they have been more learning experience than grand vegetable production. I do love the process. I start from seeds and watching them poke that first green leaf, vine out is so cool. I love the feel of dirt, the smell and sounds of the outdoors. I live in Maine so We have a bit of a wait till we can get stuff in the ground but I’m starting some things under the grow lights, and the greenhouse goes up this week so there will be some hardier plants starting there. Chomping at the bit 🙂

  24. I just like to watch the plants go from tiny seeds to big lush living things.

    Unfortunately I can’t eat the fruits of my labour, I’m a “mineraltarian” I don’t eat anything that has DNA.
    Just kidding.

  25. Ah gardening. Yes, my garden is coming along nicely, just planted my snap peas, lettuce and carrots. I also love flowers and herbs and grasses. I have everyting in my garden, and it is divided into little “rooms”: the Japanese garden room that has bamboo and irises and red maples, the veggie garden area that has raised beds, the “rainforest” area that is mostly rhodos and hydrangeas and my berry patch which has strawberries and blueberry bushes. I love when everything is in bloom and ripening. Can’t wait to start my tomatoes and basil next month…mmmmm…

  26. I planted a veggie garden for the first time in 10 years. I’m really enjoying watching it grow. It is therapeutic, too!

  27. I love my garden as much as I love my chickens. We just got the first batch of leafies in the ground, and mucho tomato plants. Also planted a TON of garlic this year. I love working in the garden barefoot and digging my feet into the dirt.

    1. YES! Gardening barefoot is the best. You can really feel what the soil is up to … and not trample any tiny plants or compact the soil.

  28. I have a great veggie patch and love it for the fresh produce I get. If we have too much we bottle it for later in the year when it’s out of season. It is a great stress relief and my two little girls are learning all about where food really comes from.

    Now if only I could get rid of all the slugs eating my seedlings….sigh.

  29. Despite my yard being a couple of small patches (maybe 60 sqft), I immersed myself in them these last two weeks when Seattle has had a touch of sun.

    I dug out all the winter weeds that had grown from the compost I added in late fall. That was a great workout – power-cleaning the 100 lb+ trash can into the bigger yard waste bin, hours squatting or bent over with the pitchfork, shovel, and hoe.

    Then I added 120 lb of new compost into the soil, digging it in with the shovel & levelling it out with the hoe.

    Then came a glorious afternoon of ‘detail-weeding’, seed planting and seedling planting: vegetables, flowers, and native plants… I think my seedlings are suffering at a cold blast last night/Sunday, though.

    Now, off to the side garden….

  30. Mark,

    I don’t have time to read through 4 million friggin posts but do you really believe that eating more than 150 grams of carbs leads to “insidious weight gain”? Have you heard of a place called Asia?

      1. hey i don’t have time to look into this but do you really think the earth is not flat?

  31. I origionally started my garden because i was too cheap to buy all the stuff i needed for cooking, and from that I began to enjoy watching a few small herbs into an entire pepper patch and even more herbs.
    oh, the joys of life

  32. It’s interesting, but the thought of gardening as a therapy is an old one. In Henry Thoreau’s “Walden”, for instance, there are long stretches of prose that simply describe the joy Thoreau has planting pea pod seedlings.

    I highly recommend the book for those trying to escape and find their peace within nature.

    1. The community garden where I had my plots is located on the site of the old Essondale Farm, which was a working farm for people with mental health challenges just after the turn of the 20th century. It was called work therapy and consisted of farming, gardening and livestock care.

  33. I am one of those unfortunate gardeners that were waiting for Spring with unbearable excitment only to wake up to a Winter Storm Warning today:( It’s snowing like nobody’s business with thunder and lightning, so with that I really don’t know when I would be able to till my garden this year.
    Here in WI, the growing season is short, so every day counts when you depend on Summer and Fall harvest as source of food for good part of the year.

  34. I’m preparing a garden this fall to start next spring.
    I can’t wait!

  35. I really like to eat the products of our gardens. Kind of spoiled that way and you really get an appreciation for the word “seasonal”.

    Bloody lot of work, though, if you want decent production. Needs someone on top of the gardening game to make it work… fortunately, that’s my beautiful wife.

  36. I’ve been waiting for a post about gardening!

    Speaking for the young crowd (I’m 19) gardening is a great stress reliever. I work on a small farm 40 hours a week all summer and It’s the best job I’ve ever had (plus I get to take free trays of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers home to plant in my backyard)

    I feel fortunate to have a farm job. It’s hard work and it’s tiring but the work is so rewarding. Plus, it has sparked my interest in gardening. I honestly spend 80% of my time outdoors in the summer and I’m significantly happier because of it.

  37. I WISH that I could garden, I don’t even know yet where to begin! And what with the many, many great gardeners in my family who have won lawn contests and the like for their beautiful gardens. I will, however, be volunteering and living for a week on an organic farm (Everdale Farms) to get into it! If it EVER stops snowing here in Toronto, that is! Thanks for this great post!

  38. Still too cold to really put anything in the ground up here. Winter is just not wanting to let go this year. It snowed this morning.

    I used to have 3 plots in an organic community garden, 30 x 60 total. I would really look forward to digging the garden in spring. I have a desk job and I relished the idea of the hard work. But, I gave it up due to too much politics and high theft rate from the garden. By the time the voles and thieves were done there wasn’t much left after all that hard work. Now I just have the 20sqft or so behind my townhome. It a huge difference and I really miss the hard, physical labor required to work a good garden.

  39. I have always grown my veggies from seed. I love to watch the whole growing process! We just moved to Idaho so this is my first growing season here. We just build four 3×16 raised beds and are going all organic. My tomato plants are itching to get put in the garden but they need to wait a couple more weeks to be safe from a late frost. We planted many berry plants and fruit trees. I am trying to be very self sufficient. I agree that gardening is very therapeutic!

    1. We propogate our seeds in the laundry with a heated sandbed and if we didn’t have 160 m/2 under plastic, there would be no tomatoes! We can get a frost on new year’s day.

  40. I so want a garden. Those of you that are able to have one make sure you don’t take it for granted!

  41. “Gardening is Therapy.” Heh, not for me. I’ve hated yard work and gardening, with a passion, ever since I mowed my first yard and pulled my first weeds in Dad’s garden.

    I’d rather take a beating with a wet knotted rope as even look at a garden. The produce section of the grocery store is as close to the activity I get.

  42. I hated gardening for years but since moving into my partners and my new place I have gained a real Passion for it. We have 4 years of disuse and abandonment to clear currently and we Are making good headway with that. It’s a big job but it’s therapeutic and instant result! I can’t wait to get home from my prison (job) each day and spend some time working and clearing the canvas for what will be our beautiful garden full of tropical plants and foods!!!

  43. I told the wife a few weeks ago that I want to start a patio garden. I’ve been researching methods, dirt, plants, etc. Some good channels on YouTube for gardeners.

    I hope to have the herb and lettuce growing soon.

  44. gardening makes me feel very rooted.
    although there’re more weeds than flowers right now, cause i dont’ use herbicide or insecticide as much as possible.
    most of my plants are xeri but still hand weeding takes too much trouble.

  45. I can’t wait to move out of my condo and buy a place that has a garden ready yard! Herbs in planters are fun but there’s nothing like that feeling if dirt in your fingers, great read!

  46. This is such a timely post. Although I live in an apartment in the city, I grow what I can, everything from sprouts in the winter, to tomatoes and herbs in the summer. It’s amazing what you can do with such little space. Ah, and digging around in the dirt with my fingers. Makes a grokess feel more grounded 🙂

  47. I love love love my little garden… It’s nothing major… but the more I work in it, the bigger garden I want. Watching things grow is truly theraputic and I love it. 🙂

  48. I whole-heartedly agree! I was a landscaper for three years and it was the most meaningful job I’ve ever had. If only it would pay the bills, I never would have quit!
    I would wake up at 0400 and get to see the sunrise every morning. I got to smell the early morning dew and the wet soil. I felt the cool ocean breeze turn into a warm summer day (yes, I worked right on the ocean). And, of course I got to listen to the birds and the breeze and the ocean lapping and the rocks nearby.
    But most of all, I got to nurture gardens and treat each plant with the care and respect they deserve to reach their full potential. I got dirty, sweaty, and exhausted and I felt rewarded at the end of each day.
    I would plant seedlings and see them grow 10 feet tall. I would mix fiery red with deep blue and soft lilac.
    Needless to say, I did not have to think, I just felt.
    I have recently began gardening again because I couldn’t resist the pull. I needed to feel that again, and it’s coming back to me.

    1. That sounds beautiful. I couldn’t “make a living” gardening, but I can cut down my bills at least. Still, you make being a landscaper sound lovely.

  49. I used to have a big veggie garden, but now I live in a commercial building, and I have been experimenting with a potted veggie garden with various degrees of success for several years. This year, I’m attempting to garden indoors near a south-facing window supplemented by grow lights and carrying buckets of collected rainwater up the stairs. Wish me luck!

  50. I’m fairly amused that gardening (agriculture) is such a popular hobby among hunter-gatherer Groks. 🙂

    That being said, I love gardening! One personal rule I’ve had in cutting through a lot of debate about food is simply this: “Can I grow it in my backyard?” Subject, of course, to the caveat that I can’t afford enough land in LA to graze a cow… but conceptually I COULD raise a cow. But it works on most other things… greens, berries, grapes, root crops vs. hard to process grains and my massive failure at growing corn.

  51. Aah Dirt… As a kid I used to eat it. Not any old dirt but dark rich top soil. Even to this day the smell of good dirt sets my mouth to watering. 🙂

  52. Mark thank you – that was a very eloquent tribute to gardening and I wholeheartedly agree. Have been gardening in a small plot for years. Just built a cold frame and already planted some lettuces. Paid to have trees cut down to get more light, and planning on expanding my plot and getting into home canning. Gardening is the best – for those who are new at least Plant some basil or other herbs on your deck or windowsill.. Best of luck to fellow primal folks with their efforts

  53. Mark,

    I’m the Associate Publisher of Rodale’s Organic Gardening Magazine.

    I’m also Grok!

    Great to see this post on your site. Let me know if I can ever contribute in some way.

  54. I love the smell of dirt! We just moved this week into our own place after months of staying with in-laws while we searched. Huge backyard. Raised beds already there. Seeds ordered. Garden, here I come! Hooray!

  55. What great thoughts, Thanks so much. This helps a lot in helping me understand good items to gift to people interested in health.

    Brianna Olds Social Media Marketing Manager

  56. Wonderful article….I’m having to make do with containers outside of first 2 FEMA trailers and now a small apt, since my Katrina/Rita wipeout…but soon hoping to relocate and reestablish composting, organic growing I actually used to do on a large city lot. This time, however, looking to go deep rural. It can’t come soon enough for me.