Project Green Thumbs: Aerobic gardening dos and don’ts

I know that under normal circumstances, most folks wouldn’t accuse gardening of being an aerobic activity. Tilling and raking and shoveling, perhaps, but generally speaking, gardening is a low-key adventure and not terribly conducive to the calorie burning I require for Project Fit-in-My-Pants-Again. Ah hem.

My first attempt at Spring onions. Even teeny tiny like this, they emit a pungent aroma.

So as I kicked off Project Green Thumbs this year, I added an ipod to the mix and tried that trick that savvy exercisers use: sneaking in extra movement. Normally this amounts to taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the furthest parking spot available. For me, it meant dancing. Yes, dancing. In the garden. Like a lunatic. Stay with me.

TOMATOES!!!!!!! (Yes, I literally squealed out loud when I noticed them a couple days ago.)

As I re-tilled the garden box and planted seeds and raked and mixed soil, I boogied. I worked on my club* dancing/booty shaking while raking weeds. I did a few leaps and turns between wheel-barrow trips. I perfected the Seed Planting Shimmy. And no, I’m really not joking.

Tired of the brown weed motif in the Back 40, I felt compelled to introduce some color.

The aerobic gardening was all well and good whilst working in the backyard. As you see here, it’s a desolate place, filled with weeds and critters and now blessedly, flowers. But otherwise, I was quite alone in my (probably horrific) dance attacks.

It’s hard to look at these flowers without smiling.

So as I moved into the front yard to revitalize our planter beds (see here for that project), I quite forgot about the possibility of witnessess.

So I come from the Disney School of Flower Planting–brightly colored, highly organized.

I worked with my back facing the street–shoveling soil, pulling weeds, planting shrubs–all the while grooving, as much as one can with a shovel and spade in hand anyway. It wasn’t until I noticed my neighbors lingering outside that I realized I had an audience. Again, not kidding.

Fingers crossed that I remember to water everything.

Of course, the mortification continues as not only did I lose myself in the reverie of aerobic dance gardening in PUBLIC, I also–just a couple times–found myself singing along to the ipod tunes. As you may recall, I’m completely tone deaf. I’ve joked often that I’d rather walk down the street completely naked than sing in public, and here I was belting out Gwen Stefani and Fergie and other songs from my gym mix. Fantastic. At least my neighbors know who they’re dealing with now!

These beauties apparently attract hummingbirds which is good because my brand-new hummingbird feeder stands sadly unused.

Singing aside, there are several things you can do to make aerobic gardening work for you:

Marigolds actually have a purpose–to attract good bugs that will keep away garden pests.

DO: Choose good tunes.

Verbena. I’m hoping the red will entice hummingbirds to the feeder.

DO: Wiggle to your heart’s content. Wiggling is very literally good for your heart!


DON’T: Forget a water bottle.

Happy Heather.

DO: Wear loose, movement-enabling clothing.

Looks like rosemary but it’s another type of trailing ground cover.

DO: Run your earbud cables under your shirt so you don’t yank them out of your ears while working.

Flowers so quickly add character.
DON’T: Get caught unaware by your neighborhood peanut gallery.


Newly planted basil is a nod to the Great Slug Attack of 2011. Note the clever re-purposing of a tortoise box.


DO: If you do get caught, at least put on a good show. 😉


Little bitty lettuce shoots.


DO: Have fun!
A few extra photos:



Things are actually growing now that the sun is out.


Grow, grow, grow!


The only bright spots in an otherwise empty yard.

* As if I’ve gone to a club in the last 7 years, or plan to go in the near future!

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