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Light: The Key to Growing Healthy Plants and Humans

A winter walk offering light and joy

As we move into the New Year, I’ve been reflecting on how the health and wellness of my farm is integrally tied to my own health and wellness. Farming is incredibly physical, the planting, cultivating, and harvesting.  It is also a mental puzzle, with Mother Nature throwing in a myriad of unknowns.  

I can think of random frosts, voles eating entire crops, irrigation clogging while temperatures soar, just a name a few that are near and dear to my own experience.  

I don’t believe the mental puzzle is unique to farming.  

The health of your career and family is also tied to your health and wellness!  

Are you thinking about ways to stay well this year too?

In the next few weeks, I want to share with you some tips for growing healthy plants, that also cross over to your own health and wellness. 

 

When I was first learning to grow seedlings I learned the importance of light. I often found myself with “leggy” seedlings.  When seedlings have to reach for the light, they grow faster than their roots and stems can support, becoming extra tall with a thin, with a fragile stem. They reached too quickly for limited light, so their roots are weak and their stem often rots and withers at the thinnest part.  The cure to this? More direct light so they don't have to stretch for it, they just get to grow at the right pace to make strong roots and stems.


This is the time of year I plant Sweet Peas.  They are the prime example of a crop that can get leggy. They love a light-rich, cold start. I plant them in my unheated greenhouse where

Check out those Sweet Pea roots!

they will SLOWWWWLY grow deep, fibrous roots and a stocky stem studded with leaves. If they don’t have full sun they will sprout and quickly become a tangle of long, thin tendrils that break at the slightest touch and wither near the weakest point. 


I think light applies to humans in this way as well.  We really need it to have deep roots and strong stems. 

In this winter season of rest, having access to sleep and recovery is important. I’ve found the thing that improves my sleep, and overall energy, especially in the winter time,  is getting light in the morning.  I really started noticing this difference when I was milking goats daily and would consistently, every morning, be out milking by 6:30am.  Getting natural, uninhibited light (meaning you have to go outside, I know it’s cold) really helps reset our circadian rhythms  and keeps us more awake and alert during the day. It even has helped lessen that  3 PM energy crash that maybe you can relate to. I have stuck the best I can to this practice and it makes a huge difference. These days I let out our ducks and chickens just as the sun rises.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes, but that’s all your super-smart body needs to set your rhthym! This practice has helped my sleep, my mood, and my overall winter mental health.  I am now starting to recognize a pattern in the Fall when the light recedes.  I start to feel icky and tired.  It still took me a month or so to remember what was going on. Now, I am making sure that I get my early morning sun, take a walk in the sun during the day, and supplement with vitamin D. 

These are a few of my practices to help me keep growing well, even in the winter.

 

Part of my goal with Barn Swallow Gardens is to help grow healthy, whole, beautiful humans, as well as healthy, whole, beautiful flowers.  

Please drop me a line or comment some of your strategies for growing well in the Winter!



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