Garden Time

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Springtime is upon us and that means it is time to dust off those garden gloves and get to work. This is one of my favorite seasons because I just adore working in my garden. Throughout my life, spring has been a time of excitement. We dig and plant and wait. We wait for the inevitable appearance of a sprout from the ground. It’s a time to spend with nature and it also has some health benefits for us.

I have always said that garden is a type of therapy for me. I can chop weeds and burn off frustration. Recent studies have shown that gardening helps to lighten mood and also lowers levels of stress and anxiety. The routine of working in the garden helps to improve our mental health. The garden gives us a place to slow down, plan, or mentally work out a problem.

Gardens are also a great place to expand social connections. For many years, my sons and husband have tended the garden right along with me. We have had many laughs along with some deep conversations while picking beans or trellising cucumbers. It’s a place that my family worked hard together, but also learned life lessons together. When we have a good crop, they know it’s because we worked hard to make that happen. They also learn that some things are out of our control, like when a storm comes and lays over the corn crop. It helps them to learn to be resilient.

Gardens also improve our diet. There’s nothing like growing your own fruits and
vegetables. I just love going out to the garden to pick squash and onions for dinner. I know how they were grown, where they were grown, and I can pick them at the peak of ripeness. This makes me want to eat more and more from the garden. I literally get to pick/eat the fruits of my labor and that makes it all the sweeter.

You don’t have to jump in to a large garden to get the benefits. If you have a small area, just plant in some containers. You can start as small as you want. Or, if you live in the city and don’t have any room for a garden at all, you can contact your local community garden. They love volunteers and usually have excess produce to share. However, you choose to do it, give gardening a try. It’s good for the mind, heart, body, and soul.

Here is a recipe for delicious Italian Vegetables:

Italian Vegetables


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow squash or zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 ounces of mozzarella cheese, shredded (½ cup shredded cheese)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash all vegetables.
  3. Collect, chop, shred, and measure all ingredients before starting to prepare the recipe.
  4. Combine onion, squash or zucchini, tomato, and green pepper in a 9-inch square baking dish.
  5.  In a small bowl, mix the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning together, then pour the sauce over the vegetables. Bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until squash/zucchini is tender.
  6. Top with cheese, and bake another 4 to 5 minutes until cheese is melted.
  7. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. Eat within 3 to 5 days. Be creative! Make it a meal by adding seasoned, cooked ground beef, chicken, or turkey.

For more information or recipes, contact Jean Brownfield at the Cooperative Extension Office at (252)789-4370.

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