Backyard Therapy Paradise I Turn Your Garden Into A .

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The GardenTherapyIssueBack toEdenThe Nature Life Project’sMonica Mansfield ongardening the waynature intendedGardengratitudetA guided journal for meditationsand observations in the gardenBackyardParadiseTurn your garden into aretreat you can visit anytimeHealingHandsDIY Dandelion Healing Salvefor your green thumb andyour gardener’s hands!SpringAwakeningEmerging from hibernation to welcomethe return of spring and the garden

1 Letter from the editorOn welcoming spring, and the benefitsof gardening for mind, body and soul.2 Zen GardenHow to amplify the therapeutic benefitsof gardening by turning your garden intoa beautiful backyard retreat.3 Outdoor Accents5 From scratch:Dandelion Healing SalveThis homemade healing salve can bemade with ingredients from your gardenand helps heal cracked skin and acheyhands after a day of digging in the dirt.6 essential oil diffuserBlends of the monthAdd beauty and function to your gardenwith these outdoor accessories.Three fresh essential oil combinations tolift your spirits and bring the beauty ofspring indoors.4 Monica Mansfield7 free PrintableTaking Notes from NatureThe Nature Life Project’s MonicaMansfield shares her philosophy ongardening the way nature intended.Garden Gratitude Guided Journalprintable page: Increase mentalwellbeing by journaling in your garden!

“All my hurtsmy garden spade can heal.”- Ralph Waldo EmersonAh, spring Can youfeel it?This homesteadinglife is so tied toseasonal living all yearlong, and there’s somuch to embrace andcelebrate about eachseason. But there’ssomething trulyspecial about spring.Spring is the time ofawakening andrebirth. The Earthcomes out of itswinter sleep and newlife seems to emergeeverywhere we look.We awaken as well. We brush off thesleepiness of the dull, monotone winterand are reenergized by the freshgreenery and the first colourful springbulbs that poke up out of the ground.The effects of seasonal depression thatwe may have felt during winter begin towane and there’s a renewed feeling ofhope and possibility in the air.Once again we get to witness the miracleof life return to the world around as wewatch our first spring seedlings pop theircotyledon (first leaves) out of the soil.We get to dig ourhands down intofresh, rich soil that’sbeen breaking downsince we put ourgardens to bed lastfall, and benefit fromthe microbes in thesoil (which haveactually been found tohave similar effects onthe brain asantidepressants!)The sun peeks out,the sky turns blue, theworld turns green andthe flowers burst forthin a rainbow ofcolours.Songbirds start singing again, insectsstart buzzing and we know that long,warm, sunny days are on the way at last.It’s refreshing, and in so many waystherapeutic; As if nature intuitively knowsjust what we need after a long winter.And there’s perhaps no better place tobenefit from this natural therapy than inthe garden.As homesteaders, when we think ofgardening, we tend to think mostly of thetangible benefits that gardening provides,like food for our tables and pantries,physical exercise and fresh air.

But the benefits of gardening span waybeyond what we can necessarily see andhold. Gardening provides all sorts ofmental, emotional and even spiritualbenefits too.And so, in honour of spring and of thebeginning of yet another gardeningseason, I’ve decided to dedicate thisissue to “garden therapy,” aka. all of thelesser known benefits of gardeningbeyond the obvious physical benefits itprovides.First we’ll dive deeper into this topic inthis month’s feature article, BackyardParadise: How (and Why!) to Create YourOwn Garden Sanctuary At Home, wherewe’ll explore some of the therapeuticaspects of gardening, as well as how youcan design your garden to not just forproduction, but as a place to escape,relax, destress and reconnect with naturetoo.To help you turn your garden into asanctuary, we’re featuring some beautifulaccent pieces and accessories to helpmake your time in the garden just thatmuch more enjoyable in our Lehman’sfeatured products of the month.(Please note that while I am an affiliatewith Lehman’s, I’m not sponsored bythem to feature their products. I just thinkthey’re great, and I think you might thinkso too:)Next, I speak with fellow blogger andgardener, Monica Mansfield of TheNature Life Project about her journey intoorganic gardening, how she’s applied theBack to Eden method to create her owngarden oasis at home, and why shebelieves gardening is about so muchmore than the food that it provides uswith.Then I’m sharing my popular recipe forhomemade Dandelion Healing Salve soyou can craft something from yourgarden to help heal your rough, acheyhands after a long day digging in yourgarden.Our essential oil blends of the monthshowcase the rejuvenating scents ofspring, from fresh rain to spring blooms.And finally, this month’s free printable is aguided garden gratitude journal pagethat you can print off and take to thegarden with you where you can sitquietly, meditate, contemplate life, andwrite down your thoughts, feelings andobservations, which, much likegardening, has proven to be incrediblybeneficial for mind, body and soul.I’m so excited for all that this new seasonhas to offer, including, of course, thisbrand new issue of ModernHomesteading Magazine that I’m onceagain honoured to share with you.I hope you enjoy this issue, and that itbrings you the same sense of peace,hope and excitement that the beginningof a new gardening season provides.Wishing you homemade, homegrown,homestead happiness :)

How (and why!) to create your owngarden sanctuary at homeIf you’re like most modernhomesteaders, when it comes toplanning your garden, you’re probablymostly focused on function and onmaximizing food production.And of course, taking care of ourphysical health also benefits our mentalhealth, so it’s important that weacknowledge the physical benefits andthe effect they have on our overall health.It can seem frivolous and a waste ofspace even to dedicate any part of yourgarden to anything other than plants youcan eat or use in some way.But beyond that, there are many othermental and emotional benefits thathaving a garden can provide.But if you’re only gardening forproduction, you might be missing out onsome of the other benefits of having abackyard garden.The many therapeutic benefits ofhome gardeningGardening provides us with so manyhealth and wellness benefits beyond theobvious physical ones.Of course, there are the physical healthbenefits that come with eating healthy,homegrown food and using medicinalherbs grown right in your backyard. Aswell as the positive impact of thephysical labour that comes with workingin the garden.For one, gardening forces us to getoutside and reap the benefits of fresh airand sunshine, which can lift our spiritsand help us destress naturally.Furthermore, spending time in naturesurrounded by plants and greenery hasbeen shown to have a positive effect onour mental health, including lesseningfeelings of stress, anxiety anddepression.And it’s not just greenery Surroundingourselves with beauty in all its forms andcolours can have a positive impact onour mental and emotional health. In thegarden, we have the opportunity to dothis by planting colourful flowers andinviting birds, bees, butterflies and otherbeneficial (and beautiful!) life forms intoour garden.

The soil too can benefit us as much as itbenefits our plants. There is growingevidence which suggests that there acertain microbe in the soil calledMycobacterium vaccae can be just aseffective as Prozac when it comes totreating depression! So don’t be afraid toget your hands dirty.Gardening also helps us to be moremindful and present as we take time tocarefully plant our seeds, water ourplants by hand, prune and care for them,weed our garden beds and simplyobserve the garden as it grows.It can also help us to practice moregratitude and acceptance in our lives. Agarden offers so much to be thankful for,including delicious, nutritious food,healing herbs and beautiful, sweetsmelling flowers, to name just a fewthings. But it also teaches us that nomatter how hard we try, some things aresimply out of our control.Some seedlings just aren’t strongenough to make it, and they die beforegrowing to their full potential. Badweather and pest infestations can ruinmonths of hard work in no time at all,and all we can do is accept it asa fact of life and move on.Adopting this attitude ofgratitude for what we have,along with acceptance for whatwe cannot control can help usbecome happier and moreresilient in all areas of our lives.Finally, both the act of gardeningas well as simply spending timein the garden can help us toconnect not only to the Earth,but to our faith and spirituality aswell. If you ask me, there’s no betterplace to pray, meditate or read spiritualtexts than on a garden bench,surrounded by the miracle of life in all itsawe-inspiring forms.All of this being said, you can amplify allof the therapeutic benefits of having agarden by planning your garden spacewith intention so that it provides you notonly with healthy food and medicine, butalso with a space to reconnect withnature, destress from the realities of lifein the 21st century and find peace andcalm amongst the chaos of the modernworld.So this year, instead of simply planningyour garden to maximize production,consider adding the following elementsto turn your backyard garden into asanctuary you can retreat to wheneveryou feel the need.How to turn your home garden intoa backyard paradise1. Add flowersAdding flowers to your garden is one ofthe easiest ways to bring morebeauty into your garden space,which makes it a moreenjoyable place to spend time.Whether you literally growroses so you can take the timeto stop and smell them, plantnasturtiums and marigolds amongyour annual vegetables or simplyscatter some wildflower seeds in acorner, adding flowers is a greatway to turn your garden into aplace of beauty where you enjoyspending time.

2.Invite birds,bees and beneficialbugs intoyour gardenNot only is invitingpollinators and beneficialbugs and birds into your gardengood for the garden itself, it alsoadds to the ambiance and helps turnyour garden space into a thrivingecosystem where you can sit and bepresent as you watch and listen to thebirds and bees buzzing and flittingaround.Observing these other life forms goabout their lives with their own intentionsand purpose somehow helps to remindus that the whole world doesn’t revolveonly around us humans and our modernday problems. We’re all on this journeytogether.Adding bird-feeders, nesting boxes,flowers, Mason bee hotels, Hummingbirdfeeders and bird baths are all simpleways to invite more beneficial bugs andbirds into your garden space.3. Add a bench or a placeto sitOne of the best ways to make yourgarden a place to sit back, relax andwatch the world go by is to actuallyinclude a place to sit!Gardening shouldn’t be about all work allthe time. We should take the time toenjoy it, and adding a bench or a placeto sit down and simply take it all in canhelp remind us to take a break and justenjoy being in the moment.4. Add accents and decorWe think nothing of decorating ourhomes to add beauty and make ourinterior space an enjoyable place to be.Why not do the same thing with ourgardens?Adding decorative accent pieces likeweather veins, wind chimes andspinners, garden gnomes and statuesand other objects that add beauty andbring you joy can help make your gardenspace a more enjoyable place to spendtime and give you more to focus on andappreciate.5. Include a water featureThere’s something about being nearwater that can bring a feeling of peaceand calm to just about anyone. Just thinkof how you feel when you watch thewaves crash upon the shore of a beachof listen to the calming sound of ababbling brook or even watch the rippleson the surface of a pond as dragonfliesand water striders disturb the otherwisestill water.You can add a water feature to your owngarden by adding a fountain, a pond oreven just a bird bath.6. Think outside the boxWhile perfectly organized garden rowsand raised beds are beautiful in their ownway, you can add interest and beauty byplanting in circles, spirals and alongmeandering paths.This can also help make your garden feelmore organic since nature doesn’t tendto grow in boxes or straight rows, andthis can have a positive impact on how

we feel when we’re in a space becausewe’re hardwired to enjoy being in nature.Try adding more organic design to yourgarden by thinking outside the box andoutside of the traditional, straight,market-style rows, and try planting incircles and curves.Our brains seems to prefer these types oforganic shapes, and research has shownthat we tend to relate hard lines andcorners to emotional adjectives like“hard” and “harsh” while circles andcurved lines are associated withadjectives like “gentle,” “quiet” and“mild.”Ah Bliss.There are so many ways to add beauty toyour garden and turn it into a sanctuarythat you can retreat to any time; Whereyou can sit and be present and enjoy thebeauty and peacefulness of the naturalworld even when the larger world aroundyou feels chaotic and stressful.What’s most important though is that youactually take the time to get outside andenjoy it, regardless of how beautiful itappears on the surface or whether you’regrowing in rows, boxes or containers.There is peace and beauty to be found inall of it, and any amount of time spentamong the plants and digging in the soilis time well spent for our overall healthand wellbeing.Don’t have a garden of your own?If you don’t have a garden of your ownand/or don’t have the space for agarden, you can still reap the therapeuticbenefits that a garden provides byvolunteering in or “renting” a plot from alocal community garden, visiting abotanical garden or even just going for awalk in a nearby park or local forest.At the end of the day, it’s not the garden,per se, but nature itself and beauty forbeauty’s sake that is the true healer. Andthat can be found just about anywhere ifwe look hard enough.Having a garden simply gives us a spaceto reap these benefits right in our ownbackyards.And THAT is a beautiful thing.

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Gardening blogger Monica Mansfield shares her journeyfrom chemical sprays and prescription pills to living andgardening the way nature intended.Monica Mansfieldbegan her gardeningjourney sellingchemical fertilizers andsprays over the counterat her hydroponicsshop in Washingtonstate. But when shediscovered the Back toEden gardeningmethod, she realizedthat the all she neededto grow a healthy,abundant garden couldbe gleaned from nature.Today she lives on a6½ acre homesteadwith her husband,Owen, and runs a blogcalled The Nature LifeProject, which is allabout helping others tocreate a better lifethrough gardening and connecting withnature.Today she’s here to share her gardeningwisdom, how gardening has helped hertake control of both her mental andphysical health and tell us all about herinspiring journey, Back to Eden.Anna: So Monica, tellme a bit about yourbackground. Where doyou live, what sizeproperty do yo have,what sort of things doyou grow and raise onyour homestead and whodo you share it with?Monica: My husbandand I live in this littletiny town calledSalkum, WA. We justmoved here three yearsago. And before thatwe lived in a placecalled Gig Harbour forabout 15 years or so.We owned businessesover there, including ahydroponics shop, amedical marijuanadispensary, and a glassshop.But we ended up super stressed outrunning the businesses and it was just,you know, I just got drawn to this type oflifestyle because I was so overworkedand overstressed.I’ve also always been pretty healthconscious, so I’m always looking for

Monica’s homestead in Salkum, WA.ways to be healthier. I started learningmore about what was in our food andhow our food industry works, and startedgetting grossed out by that.In the end we ended up having to shutour businesses down. We sold onebusiness, and we ended up finding thisperfect piece of property here in Salkum.It’s about 6½ acres right by the river,which was perfect for my husband who’sa die-hard fisherman. and it gave me theopportunity to really start gardening andgrowing our own food.It just all came together kinda perfectly.So it’s just the two of us, we don’t haveany kids, we just have animals. We havethree dogs, and we have chickens andcats and things like that.Anna: So what types of things are yougrowing on your property or raising forfood?Monica: We grow a lot of fruits andvegetables, and we raise chickens formeat and eggs.Our garden is about the size of our housenow, so maybe about 2500 square feet. Ihaven’t actually measured it, but it’spretty big!What was growing up like for you? Didyou grow food at home growing up, orhow did that play a part in your life?I was actually a military brat growing up,so we kind of moved around everywhere.My dad was in the army, and we endedup moving a lot when I was a kid, and

then we finally kindasettled, when I wasabout nine, inArizona, where welived for about nineyears.I started becoming my ownworst sales person because Istarted telling people howthey didn’t really need any ofthe products that we carriedto grow a healthy garden!My parents andgrandparents wereall from the Midwest though, so that waswhere they had their gardens. Youcouldn’t get my grandmother out of thegarden. She wouldn’t even travel. Shejust wanted to be in her garden all thetime.Then when living in the desert, my momwould try to replicate that, so we hadsmall gardens with green onions andtomatoes and things like that, but it washarder for her to grow things down inArizona.Anna: I bet it was; different conditions forsure! And then you ended up moving toWashington, and eventually you endedup opening up a hydroponics shop On your blog you explain how this wassort your gateway into the gardeningworld as an adult. But over time youstarted learning about some of thedangers of using a lot of chemical spraysand things like that, which you wereactually stocking on your shelves there.So now you grow all of your foodorganically and you’re a huge proponentof the “Back to Eden” method. So youseem like you’re gardening approach hasreally evolved over the years.Can you tell me a bit about what thatjourney has looked like for you?Monica: At first allthe stuff I learnedcame from mycustomers kind ofopening my eyesand really teachingme the sciencebehind growinghealthy plants.It wasn’t until I discovered the “Back toEden” gardening method that I reallystarted learning why we don’t needfertilizers and why you don’t need to tillthe soil or apply pesticides if your soil issuper healthy and your plants arehealthy.I did my first “Back to Eden” experimentgarden at my house, and it was such acrazy success and it took so little work! Iwas used to woking in gardens and it wasback-breaking labour and I was spendingtons of money (even though I was buyingit wholesale!). But this way was so mucheasier and the result was so muchgreater! It just opened my eyes.I remember I went on vacation while I hadmy garden growing, and I came back andit had just exploded, and it was insane,and I wasn’t even there; it was crazy!I started becoming my own worst salesperson because I started telling peoplehow they didn’t really need any of theproducts that we carried to grow ahealthy garden!But everybody has their own way thatthey like to garden and they’re pretty setin their ways. And a lot of people thathave had that success for so long like tothink that they’re right, you know what Imean?

The Back to Eden gardening method consists of first laying down a layer of cardboardfollowed by compost and then mulching on top with wood chips.So I ended up setting up a test plot at thestore so that people could see it. I’m like“see, I’m not making this up, look what’shappening here!”It just got to the point where I was tryingto get people to not buy stuff from me,and that just made no sense. And so at acertain point we just decided that wedidn’t want to be a part of that anymore.Anna: You’re a big proponent of the“Back to Eden” gardening method, whichis the method you’ve employed in yourown garden. Can you explain what “Backto Eden” is and why you love it so much?Monica: The reason I love it so much ishonestly because the food tastes betterand it takes a lot less work than anotherkind of garden would take.There’s no tilling, there’s no watering,there’s no fertilizing unless it’s the firstcouple years, and you don’t have to gothrough a lot of labour to get it set upeither.All you do is you lay down cardboard,(which from what I’m learning now is noteven totally necessary). But the way I didit is I laid down the cardboard, laid downcompost, and laid down wood chips.Then you want to make sure that you getthe wood chips that have the leaves andthe pine needles and stuff in it, so that itbreaks down faster. If you get just woodchips from a mill it’s not going to breakdown as fast.So what ends up happening is that it’sreally good for the soil life, and the moreyou learn about soil life, you learn that it’s

Monica’s garden after applying the Back to Eden method.its own system, and as long as we keepthe soil healthy, the garden doesn’t reallyneed us.The forest doesn’t need us, right? It’slush and it’s beautiful, and we never doanything to it!That’s sort of the idea behind “Back toEden” gardening: you let the soil do thework for you; the earth worms basically tillthe soil; All the little mycorrhizae are inthere and they attach themselves to theroot of the plant and eat the nutrientsfrom the plant waste, and then they maketheir waste, and then the plants eat themycorrhizae’s waste and it’s just one bigcycle.Then there’s the mycorrhizal hyphae,which is like, an extension of the rootsthat come off of it, so those travel prettyfar and so the mycorrhizae that have asymbiotic relationship with the plant cango off and get nutrients and water fromother places and bring them back to theplant. So the plant can get what it needsat all times.Then there’s the covering (the woodchips) which breaks down over time, soit’s constantly feeding the soil. And thenthe wood chips themselves hold water,which means you don’t have to wear asmuch Anna: So from the photos on your blog, itlooks like you just put cardboard right ontop of your grass and you didn’t evenhave to dig anything up. Then it looks likeyou just layered your soil and mulch righton top of that. Is that really all you did?You just took it out to your lawn and laid itdown and turned that space intoproductive land?Monica: Yup, and all the grass rightthere, it breaks down and feeds the soiltoo. So you lay everything down, get it allset up, and then you let it sit for a while.You would do all of this in the fall and

The raised beds Monica inherited when she and her husband bought their homestead.then you’d plant in the spring, whichwould give it time to break down. Thenwhen spring rolls around you go to movethe chips aside and get in there and thesoil is gorgeous; It’s black and loose andjust the perfect amount of moist.because the wood chips just hold thatmoisture and release it when it’s needed.When we first moved here we inheritedtwo raised beds, so I gardened in theraised beds for the first year. But then Iwas like, “I’ve gotta go back! I’ve gottaget back to the “Back to Eden” methodbecause this isn’t nearly as fun!”Anna: So do you this every year? Like, inthe fall would you put a new layer on?The soil got compacted, and the weedswere hard to pull (weeds are super easyto pull using the “Back to Eden” method They just come out!).You can get them from tree companiesand wood services, so I’m on the list butI’m having a hard time getting them outhere in the country because everyonewants them here for their horses andwhatnot. So I’ve got one girl who I getthem from, but they don’t have all thepine needles, so I just use that to coverThere was also an area of our yard thatwas flooding all the time, so I went aheadcovered it with cardboard, compost andwood chips and it never floods nowWe actually mulched with wood chips forthe first time this year, but I’m stilllearning how it all works.Monica: Well you should, but I have sucha large space that I have a hard timefinding wood chips, to be honest!

my chicken run andthey compost it, andthen I layer thecompost out there.As for adding morecompost, I just watchthe areas of mygarden and if I seean area that’s notgrowing quite asgood, that’s where I’lladd more compost.But I don’t do thewhole thing everyyear.[The doctor told me] “onceyou’re on anti-depressantsyou’re on them for life,” and Ipretty much at that pointpegged him as a drug dealerand went “okay, I’m notlistening to you, you’recorrupt, and you pissed meoff and got my rebellious sideriled up, and I’m never gonnatake these again, ever.”You’ve got to be careful with compostbecause you can over-compost, and thenyou can have too much nitrogen, andthen you have plants that don’t produce.So it’s more like every couple of years two to three years- that I add freshcompost.Anna: So aside from the obvious physicalhealth benefits that come from growing agarden, you talk a lot on your site aboutthe mental and emotional health benefitsof gardening and of connecting withnature in general.I saw that you wrote a post on treatingdepression with “garden therapy”, andyou shared a little bit about how youtransitioned from being on prescriptionanti-depressants to using all-naturalsolutions, and primarily one of thosesolutions for you was just getting out inthe garden and connecting to nature.Can you tell me a bit more about that andabout what that transition looked like foryou?Monica: This is oneof the topics that Ihave to be verycareful about,because I don’t wantto be like “youshouldn’t be on antidepressants” or “Idon’t think youshould listen to yourdoctor”, becauseeverybody’s different.Everybody’s got adifferent situation;Everybody’sdepressed for different reasons.Sometimes it’s a situation you can fix andsometimes it’s chemical, so I don’t wantto presume to speak for everyone.But I had kind of a bad experience with adoctor, and I know not all doctors are thisway, but this particular doctor was veryforceful about putting me on antidepressants. This was after I’d been in acar accident, so I wasn’t even going tohim for being depressed, I was going tohim because I had just been in a caraccident.His rationale was that If I was depressedin any way then my body wouldn’t heal asquickly so I needed to be on antidepressants, which I found to be a reallyweird way of thinking. This was before wehad a lot of awareness about what theseanti-depressants were doing to us andthe consequences of them; It was stillwhen they were prescribing these thingslike it was nobody’s business.I was in my early twenties so like 22-23,so I just blindly trusted this doctor like“okay, he knows best.” At first it was kindof nice, but I pretty much just felt numb. I

I love watching things grow; I find it incredibly peaceful.lost all my creativity, I lost all my fire, I justfelt blah.I didn’t like how it made me feel. So Iended up going back to the doctor andtelling him “I want to get off of these, Idon’t want to be on them anymore” andhe actually got upset with me, and he toldme nobody gets off these, once you’re onanti-depressants you’re on them for life,and I pretty much at that point peggedhim as a drug dealer and went “okay, I’mnot listening to you, you’re corrupt, andyou pissed me off and got my rebelliousside riled up, and I’m never gonna takethese again, ever.”And that was kind of the attitude that Itook towards it, and it sent me on thisjourney of looking for more naturalmethods of dealing with my mood.I ended up finding different supplements,so I started my own cocktail of Bvitamins, fish oil, 5HTP, and St. John’swort and a multivitamin and that knockedme right into happy, and I was fine. Soany time I start to feel like that I just takesome St. John’s wort and my vitamins.But I think lifestyle plays a huge role too.So there are these natural supplementsyou can take, but just getting outside IfI’m having a bad day I just get outside Iimmediately feel better.So having the garden there has donewonders for my mental health. It reallyhasI love watching things grow; I find itincredibly peaceful. I’ve had a lot ofchaos in my life and I’ve had to overcomea lot. So for me it’s like a refuge: a placewhere I can go and shut the world out,pray a little bit, not think about things orthink about things, work through things.I t

hold. Gardening provides all sorts of mental, emotional and even spiritual benefits too. And so, in honour of spring and of the beginning of yet another gardening season, I’ve decided to dedicate this issue to “garden therapy,” aka. all of the lesser known benefits of gardening beyond the obvious physical benefits it provides.

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