Grow a Good-Mood Garden

Ward off bad moods with a mood-boosting backyard garden.

By Emily Main

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Just being outside, whether you’re gardening, exercising, or simply taking a stroll, is a great mood booster. But getting your hands dirty in a garden is so effective at combating depression that it’s often used in “horticultural therapy” at psychiatric hospitals. If you feel like your energy levels are dropping or you’re just too stressed out at work, plant yourself a good-mood garden, and get the benefits not just of a little garden therapy but of all the healthy foods linked to lower rates of depression. Certain vegetables and herbs are rich in antidepressant compounds and minerals that can do everything from taking the edge off a bad day to curing full-blown depression.

Here’s a guide to get you started—10 of the most potent antidepressant foods and herbs and how to grow them anywhere.

Growing and eating Swiss Chard will put you in a better moodSwiss Chard

Eat it: All types of chard are packed with magnesium, a nutrient essential for the biochemical reactions in the brain that boost your energy levels. In fact, magnesium deficiency is a common condition among people diagnosed with clinical depression.

Grow it: Chard is a hardy crop that, if planted even as late as summer, will produce until early winter. Pick a spot that gets a fair amount of sunlight; it can tolerate shade but produces best with lots of sun. Or choose a container that's about 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep and fill it with a good all-purpose potting soil (We recommend Organic Mechanics Potting Soil). Sow between 2 and 3 seeds per pot. You can start harvesting leaves as soon as they appear, but harvest from the outside so as not to kill the entire plant.

Photo: Rodale Inc.

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