The Good-Mood Garden: Crops That Fight Depression Part I
Fight off depression by growing your very own mood enhancing garden with these crops.
The act of gardening itself is extremely therapeutic. Getting your hands dirty while gardening is so effective at combating depression that it is often used in “horticulture therapy” at psychiatric hospitals. Certain vegetables and herbs are very rich in antidepressant compounds and minerals that can do everything from settling nerves to curing full-blown depression.
These are 5 of the most potent antidepressant foods and herbs that can be grown in your garden. Find out what the next 5 are here.
Every type of chard is packed with magnesium, a nutrient that helps boost energy levels within the brain. Magnesium deficiencies are a common condition found amongst people who have been diagnosed with clinical depression.
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Chard is a very hardy crop. Even if it is planted as late a summer, it can continue to produce all the way into early winter. Be sure to pick a spot that get a good amount of sunlight. Although chard can tolerate shade, it best when it gets lots of sun. Be sure to choose a container that is about 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep and fill it with a good, organic, all-purpose potting soil. Sow 2 to 3 seeds per pot. You can begin harvesting leaves as soon as they appear. Be sure to harvest from the outside as to not kill the entire plant.
Blue potatoes have anthocyanin antioxidants. This food will reduce inflammation that can lead to bad moods. The skin of blue potatoes is packed with iodine, which can ward off mood swings by helping to stabilize thyroid hormone levels.
Potatoes are extremely easy to grow. You can even grow them in a bag of potting soil, without really getting your hands dirty. To use the bag technique, cut a few drainage holes at the bottom of a bag of potting soil, then keep the bag in a sunny area. Bury two “seed potatoes” about 4 inches deep, and give them about 3 months to grow. When you see the appearance of flowers, top the bag over and dig out the potatoes. Plant a new set of seed potatoes every few weeks to keep the harvest going long into the fall.
Tomato skin is rich in lycopene, a phytonutrient that can stop the buildup of pro-inflammatory compounds that are linked to depression. Since lycopene lives in tomato skins, the best way to feel the full effect of this compound is to eat cherry tomatoes because they have a smaller surface area which means you’ll be eating more skin!
Cherry tomatoes will produce more fruit than larger varieties and they can be grown in containers. If you use pots, be sure they are large and able to hold 4 to 6 gallons of potting soil. Place your crop in a sunny area. Plant your cherry tomato seedlings so that their first row of leaves is covered by dirt. Depending on the variety you grow, cherry tomatoes can take about 2 ti 3 months to start bearing fruit.
Black-eyed peas have one of the highest levels of folate of any vegetable. Folate plays a role in creating dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, three brain chemicals that, when absent, can make people forgetful, irritable, and unable to sleep.
Black-eyed peas need long summers with temperatures averaging between 60 F and 70 F. They require warm days and night with lots of sun and water. Once planted, black-eyed peas will be ready to harvest in a little over three months. They can be eaten fresh off the vine. You can also leave pods on the vine until they are dry and save them to eat through the winter.
Oregano is extremely rich in caddeic acid, quercitin, and rosmarinic acid. All of these components can combat depression, fatigue, and anxiety.
Oregano, like most herbs, is easy to grow. Find organic seedlings, pot them, and water, leaving more on the dry side. Oregano thrives best in large pots or containers at least 12 inches across, as this herb grows very quickly.
Ariana Marisol is a contributing staff writer for REALfarmacy.com, where this article first appeared. She is an avid nature enthusiast, gardener, photographer, writer, hiker, dreamer, and lover of all things sustainable, wild, and free. Ariana strives to bring people closer to their true source, Mother Nature. She is currently finishing her last year at The Evergreen State College getting her undergraduate degree in Sustainable Design and Environmental Science. Follow her adventures on Instagram.