I did it again. We had one nice day and I ran outdoors like a crazy woman trying to do so many things before the weather turned. And, as usual, I hurt myself. I could hardly get out of bed the next day.
I consider myself in reasonable shape physically, but the things one does when gardening are totally different than anything done at the gym or in yoga class.
Gardening feels so good, that it’s a shame to go at it in a way that hurts. So, if I can give a little advice (and plan to take it myself) before the real garden season begins, add some strengthening exercises to your day so you can take a stronger body outdoors.
My worst offending hurt is my back. I know from physical therapists that most back issues come from a not-so-strong core, so that’s where I’m going to concentrate my exercises.
In the evenings, I will pull out my mat and simply do whatever feels right to twist and pull and get my core in shape. It may sound silly, but you can actually do exercises that mimic actual movement in the garden such as hoeing, kneeling and stretching to prune a branch. As much as I don’t like doing squats in the gym, I do them constantly in the garden so they are valuable preparation for being outside.
I also purchased one of those small tension balls to squeeze whenever I’m sitting, to get my hands stronger. I refuse to take my dad’s advice that the only way to get your hands in shape is to plunge them repeatedly into a bucket of ice (he was kidding). But even though the muscles in the hands are small, they are indispensable for almost every garden task, and having strong hands makes gardening easier.
We all know that gardening is good for the soul, and that the food we produce makes us healthy on the inside. But gardening is so very good for the body because it does make use of all muscles. We use our hands when transplanting, arms when pruning and planting, our backs and legs when hoeing or mowing. I was shocked that even my feet were sore because I wore my muck boots for the first time of the season and my feet had to get used to them.
Gardening is also wonderful for the mind. Our mental and emotional health get a lovely boost from doing something we feel is worthwhile and from being outdoors, in tune with nature. It’s hard not to be happy when looking at a freshly opened daffodil or a beautifully executed pruning job on an apple tree. So take that mental uplift and combine it with a strong body to get the maximum enjoyment out of your garden.
Recipe of the day – one of my favorites for spring (I have been known to simply eat it by the spoonful)
Creamy Sorrel Sauce
(adapted from More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden by Renee Shepherd)
This lovely light green sauce can be modified in a lot of interesting ways, adding herbs like basil and dill, changing the carriers from mayonnaise to all yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche, etc. You will love it on salmon, vegetables, potatoes and especially on freshly roasted asparagus.
- 1 c. any combination of plain Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream
- 1 c. fresh sorrel with stems removed and leaves chopped
- 1 T. soy sauce or 1 t. salt (soy sauce gives it more flavor but you can pump up the flavor with herbs also)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
Blend (a blender works best to make a velvety sauce) and serve cold.