Today was the day for “major” tending to my AeroGarden Sprout LED Garden #1. Major is in quotes because it was a five-minute maintenance day. All told, I spent a good 30 minutes with my gardens today for some much need mental health restoration.
There are major mental health benefits to AeroGarden-ing, especially for mood disorders and anxiety caused from a variety of anxiety disorders, or anxiety resulting for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Autism and OCD, just to name a few.
Last night, my C-PTSS was badly triggered and today’s AeroGarden maintenance day was perfect. I decided to spend a little extra time in my garden room and take the opportunity to ground myself.
Today’s update will not only include what today’s tending entailed, but also the extra things I did for mental health reasons.
AeroGarden Sprout LED Garden #1 Condition Before Harvesting Herbs
My Sprout LED garden one was a mix of happy and sad before I tended to it. Some of the curly parsley and dill were yellowed. But the Genovese basil remained very happy. It’s a hearty herb.
The reason for the yellowing is because this garden is now at the point where the plants are drinking a lot of water, requiring water levels to be checked once a day to see if it needs to be topped up. Unfortunately, I neglected to check one day. When I checked the next day, the water was below the fill line — you should never let it reach that line — making the parsley and dill none to happy.
But, it’s really no big deal. The yellowing is something easily resolved.
AeroGarden Sprout LED Garden #1 Week 6 Maintenance Details
Today’s Sprout LED maintenance included filling the water to the full line, adding a cap-full of nutrients, harvesting, and lowering the lights.
For the curly parsley, I harvested all the stems, at the base, which had yellowing leaves. For the dill, I just trimmed off the yellowing tips. I also cut off any little shoots that were going to die because they weren’t getting enough light.
After dealing with the unwell herbs, I harvested the largest stock of dill from its base so that new and healthier dill would begin to grow. That was the last of the dill from the original growth. Everything left is new growth.
Today was the first time I harvested the parsley. It decided to grow slower than the other herbs in this Sprout LED. Making sure not to remove more than 30 per cent, including the parsley that had yellowed, I cut the parsley at its base like you do with the dill.
The Genovese basil is simply thriving. All the basil you see in the foreground is new growth from when it was harvested two weeks ago. I harvested the majority of the first growth, which is that big stem at the back. I cut it back two leaf sections. Next harvesting should result in all original growth being harvested.
Finally, I lowered the lights. My AeroGarden Sprout LED garden #1 is now much happier.
Again, all of this only took five minutes and I did it all while seated.
What to Do with the Herbs After Harvesting
The parsley and the dill went into the compost because of the yellowing. However, there was plenty of Genovese basil that was usable.
I have nothing to cook in the next week that will require the basil. What I do with my herbs after regular harvesting, instead of harvesting when the herb is needed, is cut off all the stems, stick it in a small freezer bag, label it, and stick in the freezer until its needed.
How I Used Today’s Maintenance of the AeroGarden Sprout LED for Mental Health Gains
While it only took five minutes to maintain my Sprout LED, I spent at least 30 minutes in my garden room doing things to ground me.
I see a trauma therapist twice a month to help me manage my Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (C-PTSS). A lot of what we do is cognitive and behavioural therapy. Part of the cognitive therapy is to not only do grounding exercises, which are designed to shift my hyper-focus to what’s immediately around me when I’m triggered, but to also do grounding exercises outside of being triggered.
Doing this helps to rewire part of my brain and teach my brain to be calm and focused on the “what nows” and not the “what ifs”.
Last night, I had a really bad trigger. When I woke up this morning, I was still feeling some residual anxiety.
Every time it’s a major maintenance day of my gardens, I add an entry into my Midori Traveler’s Notebook, as part of regular grounding and also just because I find it enjoyable. Normally, these journal entries are done in my home office.
Today, I decided to update my journal inside of my garden room, making sure to not rush the process. I spent minutes going through washi taps just to find the exact ones I wanted instead of just grabbing any one from my gardening journal bag. I spent minutes going through my stencils, figuring out which stencils I wanted to use today, when normally that would be something pre-planned. I took a long time drawing my curly parsley.
While I was doing all of this, I also made mental notes of the sound of the water pumps running; the wonderful smell of the herbs that are growing in both of my Sprout LEDs; the warmth from the LEDs. Often, I would just stop to close my eyes and do my belly breathing while I soaked in the sounds, smells and warmth of my environment.
The garden room ceiling light stayed off and I just soaked in the benefits of the full-spectrum LED lights, getting 30 minutes of needed sunshine in the winter. Sidebar: This will also help me get needed sunshine in the summer since one of the ‘lovely’ things about having lupus is an allergy to the sun.
By the time I was done, I was grounded and feeling a lot less anxious.
After many years of trauma therapy with a trauma therapist who specializes in the intersections of repeated childhood leading into adulthood trauma and abuse, and transgender identities, I have successfully re-wired my brain for when I do grounding when triggered. I have a few go-to activities for this: Instant Pot-ting and AeroGarden-ing.
Most of the time, what happens is, I get triggered, I do one or the other, my anxiety goes down to about a 1, and I’m able to think about the trigger and come up with a plan to get myself out of the danger without re-triggering myself and my anxiety rising by only half a point.
Today wasn’t such a successful day. But that isn’t a failure. As I said earlier, the trigger was a really bad trigger involving one my childhood abusers on my birthday, and abuse I would endure on birthdays.
The important thing is that I was grounded after my time with my gardens. And if I feel my anxiety rising again above a 3, then I’ll just walk back into my garden room, shut the door, sit on my chair, close my eyes, and absorb the sounds of the water pumps, the delicious smell of the herbs and the warmth from the LED lights.
Monday is maintenance day for my AeroGarden Sprout LED Garden #2. I will once again have an update for you!
If you have any questions about today’s AeroGarden maintenance, questions about using the AeroGarden for mental health benefits, or questions about AeroGarden-ing in general, please feel free to ask them in the comments!