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Time to Start Your Summer Garden!

Have you started your summer garden yet? There’s nothing quite as delicious and nutritious as vine-ripened tomatoes, freshly harvested peaches and corn, or homegrown herbs and spices. Growing your own edible plants can be a fun, rewarding, and healthy endeavor. Plus, sharing your garden’s bounty with friends and neighbors might even expand your social connections and spread the joy of fresh produce.

“Gardening has many health benefits. It allows you to get outside, get active, and sit less, which might help to reduce stress,” says Dr. Philip Smith, a lifelong gardener who oversees obesity research at NIH. “Gardening can also improve your diet if you eat more fruits and vegetables. They’re especially delicious, with a more intense flavor, when ripe and freshly picked.”   

Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals. Research has shown that consuming fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet can reduce your risk for long-term diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Additionally, fruits and vegetables can help control your weight by reducing your calorie intake. Herbs can enhance the flavor of your meals without adding extra calories.

Gardening may also boost your mental health. Some studies have found that being physically active outdoors or simply being exposed to nature, can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance self-esteem. “Growing your own vegetables and digging into the dirt can increase physical activity and give you a sense of well-being and a connection to the Earth,” Smith says.

Think you don’t have space for a backyard garden? Think again. “Some vegetables like carrots, lettuce, kale, and hot peppers don’t require much space,” says Smith. These can be grown in pots or small garden plots. “You can also try growing hanging tomatoes, which can be suspended from your deck or porch.”

Garden Safety Tips

Before you get started, consider these garden safety tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable gardening experience:

  • Wear gloves to avoid skin rashes, cuts, and contaminants.
  • Read all instruction labels before using chemicals, tools, and other equipment, and keep them out of the reach of children.
  • Cut your risk for sunburn and skin cancer by wearing wide-brimmed hats, sun shades, and sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
  • Protect against diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks. Use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts, and tuck pants into your socks.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially when working outside in hot weather.
  • Pay attention to signs of heat-related illness**, including high body temperature, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness. Seek emergency medical care if needed.

Gardening at Wilf Campus

Did you know that the Wilf Campus has two vegetable gardens? One at Stein Assisted Living and one at the Wilentz Senior Residence. Residents, family members, and Master Gardeners from the community work on these gardens. The vegetables grown are later used in our very own dining services.

To learn more about the Wilf Campus, Stein Assisted Living, and Wilentz Independent Living, contact us at (732) 568-1155, [email protected], or visit us at [](

Source: National Institutes of Health News in Health, adapted by IlluminAge AgeWise.



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