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Grow a great mood boosting backyard

wakeup-world.com
Ward off bad moods with a mood-boostingbackyard garden.
Just being outside, whether you’re gardening,exercising, or simply taking a strol , is a great moodbooster. But getting your hands dirty in a garden isso effective at combating depression that it’s oftenused in “horticultural therapy” at psychiatrichospitals. If you feel like your energy levels aredropping or you’re just too stressed out at work,plant yourself a good-mood garden, and get thebenefits not just of a little garden therapy but of althe healthy foods linked to lower rates ofdepression. Certain vegetables and herbs are rich in antidepressant compounds and minerals thatcan do everything from taking the edge off a bad day to curing ful -blown depression.
Here’s a guide to get you started—10 of the most potent antidepressant foods and herbs and howto grow them anywhere.
Eat it: Al types of chard are packed with magnesium, a nutrient essential for the biochemical
reactions in the brain that boost your energy levels. In fact, magnesium deficiency is a common
condition among people diagnosed with clinical depression.
Grow it: Chard is a hardy crop that, if planted even as late as summer, wil produce until early
winter. Pick a spot that gets a fair amount of sunlight; it can tolerate shade but produces best with
lots of sun. Or choose a container that’s about 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep and fil it with a
good al -purpose potting soil. Sow between 2 and 3 seeds per pot. You can start harvesting leaves
as soon as they appear, but harvest from the outside so as not to kil the entire plant.
2. Blue Potatoes
Eat it: The anthocyanin antioxidants in rare—but tasty!—blue potatoes reduce inflammation that
can lead to bad moods. Their skin is also packed with iodine, which helps stabilize thyroid hormone
levels, thus warding off mood swings.
Grow it: Potatoes are about the easiest crops to grow. You can even grow them in a bag of potting
soil, without real y dirtying your hands. To do that, cut a few drainage holes at the bottom of a bag of
potting soil, then stand the bag someplace sunny. Bury two “seed potatoes” about 4 inches deep,
and wait about 3 months for them to grow. When flowers start to appear, tip the bag over and dig
out the potatoes. To keep the harvest going long into the fal , plant a new set of seed potatoes every
few weeks.
3. Cherry Tomatoes
Eat it: Tomato skin is rich in lycopene, a phytonutrient that actual y stops the buildup of pro-
inflammatory compounds linked to depression. Because lycopene lives in tomato skins, the best
way to get it is through cherry tomatoes, whose smal er surface area means you’l eat more skin
than if you eat a ful -size tomato.
Grow it: Cherry tomatoes are good choices for containers, and they’l produce more fruit than
larger varieties. The pots should be large—one that holds 4 to 6 gal ons of potting soil wil do—and
placed in a sunny spot. In June, find some organic cherry-tomato seedlings at a local nursery or
farmers’ market (big-box-store tomato plants can be very disease-prone), and plant them so that the
first row of leaves is covered by dirt. Depending on the variety you grow, cherry tomatoes can take
about 2 to 3 months to start bearing fruit.
4. Black-Eyed Peas
Eat it: Black-eyed peas have some of the highest levels of folate of any vegetable. It’s thought that
folate plays a role in creating dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, three brain chemicals that,
when absent, can make you forgetful, irritable, and unable to sleep.
Grow it: Black-eyed peas need long summers with temperatures averaging between 60° and 70°F,
which is why they’re so commonly grown down South. They need warm days and warm nights, with
lots of sun and water. After you plant them, they’l be ready to harvest in a little over three months.
You can eat them fresh off the vine, or leave them on the vine until they dry (you’l hear seeds rattling
around in the pods) and save them to eat al winter.
Eat it: Oregano is rich in caffeic acid, quercitin, and rosmarinic acid, al components that combat
depression, fatigue, and anxiety.
Grow it: Oregano, like most herbs, is easy to grow. Look for a seedling at a local nursery, pot it,
and just water as needed, leaving the soil on the dry side. It thrives better in containers, but make
sure your pot is fairly large—at least 12 inches across—as this plant can grow pretty quickly.
Eat it: Sunflower seeds are a great source for the antidepressant phenylalanine, an amino acid the
body turns into norepinephrine.
Grow it: Sunflowers like sun, obviously, but be sure to plant them in a sunny spot on the north edge
of your yard or garden so they don’t cast too much shade on other sun-loving plants. Plant your
seeds after the last frost. Towards the end of summer, the flowers start to wilt and the seed heads
ripen and droop. When the seeds in the seed heads start to turn brown, cut them along with 2 feet of
stem and hang upside down in a dry, wel -ventilated place, such as a garage or attic, until ful y dry;
store in plastic bags for birds and animal food. To eat, soak overnight in water (or strong salt water,
if a salty flavor is desired), drain, spread on a shal ow baking sheet, and roast for 3 hours at 200°F
or until crisp.
7. Chamomile
Drink it: There’s a reason a cup of chamomile tea just before bed helps you sleep. Just like
oregano, it’s rich in stress-reducing caffeic acid and quercitin, but it tastes much better in the form of
tea, which you can make from your garden herbs by steeping chamomile flowers in boiling water for
about 10 minutes.
Grow it: German chamomile is best for teas, as opposed to other varieties that can taste bitter.
Since it can grow wild and take over your garden, it’s best suited for containers. A smal container
about 6 inches wide by 6 inches deep wil suffice, but a bigger pot wil yield a bigger harvest. It
prefers ful sun and should be planted in late spring, when there’s no risk for frost.
8. Evening Primrose
Eat it: Evening primrose is technical y a wildflower. Its seeds have the highest levels of tryptophan
(which your body uses to make mood-boosting serotonin) of any plant. In the fal , when the flowers
mature, the flowers’ seed pods begin to fil up. Harvest a few and grind them as you would flaxseed
into your favorite dishes.
Grow it: Evening primrose is drought-tolerant and easy to grow either in containers or in the
ground. You can find varieties with flowers ranging from deep reds to light yel ows. Sow the seeds in
groups of four. They’l start to appear in 14 to 28 days.
9. Lavender
Smell it: Gardens don’t have to be al about edibles (even though you can eat lavender). According
to the University of Maryland Medical Center, aromatherapy treatments involving lavender and a few
other herbs are often used to supplement depression treatments, because the scent is so relaxing.
Grow it: Plant a lavender seedling in a container made from a material that breathes, such as terra-
cotta, and choose a pot about 12 inches wide by 12 inches deep. Place your pot in an area that
gets lots of sunlight; lavender loves dry, sunny areas. English lavender is both fragrant and edible, if
you feel like adding some lavender flowers to your cooking.
10. St. John’s Wort
Drink it: The most famous herbal antidepressant, St. John’s wort contains compounds similar to
those found in Prozac. The flowers and leaves are the most valuable part of the plant and can be
brewed into a tea that wil calm you down and boost your mood. Just note that St. John’s wort has
many adverse drug interactions, so check with a pharmacist if you’re on any medications.
Grow it: Another herb that’s often viewed as a weed, St. John’s wort should be grown in containers
to keep it from spreading where you don’t want it. It’s pretty easy to grow. Just find a seedling or
some seeds and plant them in a smal container placed in a partial y sunny/partial y shady area.
Plant the herb in spring, and by July you’l start to see leaves. But flowers won’t show up until the
second year (St. John’s wort is a perennial, so you can leave it in its pot al winter and it’l grow back
on its own).

Source: http://www.marclandry.ca/Marcs_Sensory_Oasis/Newsletter_files/wakeup-world.com-Grow_a_Great_Mood_Boosting_Backyard.pdf

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