Can Gardening Make Your Sex Life Better?

The skeptical reader will probably go, say what? But I believe gardening is a good model to go off of -- in terms of getting off.

Let me set the scene. It's a summer day somewhere in central Vermont. There's a sweet-smelling breeze picking up whiffs of the last day of lilac season. There are no black flies in this luscious breeze, and you're kneeling in the dirt. You reach across a 30-inch bed to gently pluck the weeds away from the brassicus varieties. You've been working outside all morning, there's sweat under your arms, on your face, on your chest. The smell of the earth infiltrates your being, and all is beauty, efficiency, and food production…until a thundercloud passes overhead. The sun goes away, and the clouds bring the threat of rain. You look at your better half, who has reached the end of the row he or she has been weeding. They're bending over, working their hands in the dirt. You've just pulled out the first carrot of the season, and you brush off the dirt, and take a sweet bite. It's the best thing you've ever tasted. You pass a water bottle back and forth with your lover. It begins to rain. You rush inside, and I bet you can guess what happens next.

Gardening -- besides my proposed sexual connotations -- is satisfying. And while weekend-long weeding can suck at the height of summer, all in all gardening is a valuable alternative to the grocery store, and allies humans with the sensualities of the land. There have been tomes written on gardening (see here and here); both the various techniques for various seasons, and the philosophy behind what it means to work the land. There is no doubt in my mind -- and if you're into gardening or enjoy visiting gardens, I think you'll agree -- that gardening, albeit hard work, is an intimate way to connect with the earth, and a delightful way to spend the day. My question is -- aside from all of the obvious benefits to man and land -- does gardening make sex better?

The skeptical reader will probably go, say what? Okay, I feel you. It may seem like a gross neo-hippie generalization. But I believe gardening is a good model to go off of -- in terms of getting off.

Gene Logsdon, author of The Contrary Farmer, is a farmer who writes, a writer who farms, and a well-respected voice on small-scale food production, animal husbandry, and the self-reliant life on a homestead. To him, "Contrary gardeners today are motivated by a great love for the pleasures of eating good food and enjoying other physical stimulations of the natural and garden environment." Sexy, right? Aside from these other physical stimulations (endorphins, for one) he sees the aim of gardening as joy -- both in the intimate connection one forms with their home and their land, and the bond between partners and animals, food and shelter, the earth, and (I can only assume) rolling around in it. Logsdon is no stranger to the idea of the human body in relation to the land; he has even conducted casual surveys into the idea of nude gardening on his blog. And while he doesn't think people's desire to garden in the nude is necessarily sexual, Logsdon does describe a life of gardening -- and therefore, a life of simplicity -- as sensual:

Ironically enough, the more one immerses oneself in the complexity of the familiar, the more one can attain simplicity of life. We contrary gardeners often refer to this simplicity as "the simple life," even though we know that its manifestations are simple only by the very complex design. Thus we cherish "simple" pleasures…a sunset; rest after hard physical work; eating after sharp hunger; stripping away anxiety about what we should wear until we wear nothing at all…the touch of a drying wind on bare skin after swimming; the taste of a pullet egg, laid today…of a winesap apple pie with a lard crust…

Perhaps those who garden are the same people who are interested in stripping sex down to its purest elements, much like their approach to the sensuality that lies in the dirt. So I'm not saying that doing it in the garden makes sex better (though it might). I'm not even really talking about sex while gardening at all. In fact, most farmers and gardeners are incredibly task-oriented and focused on their goals of the day, and people who simply frolic and get freaky probably don't get much gardening done, at all. What I'm talking about is sex before gardening. Sex after gardening. Sex, if you will, in the context of gardening. Sex (at its best?) can be just like a winesap apple pie, or a nude swim, or a fresh carrot from the garden -- pure, natural, sensual.

If this is true, then one must ask: what constitutes good sex? I, for one, don't know much about sex except that I like it. I do know that it's certainly different strokes for different folks (and you can take that literally). Some people like it kinky, with strangers. Some people prefer it to be like ships passing in the night, with no talking, no looking. Some pay for it, and are fine with that -- I just read, for example, an article about a mail-order bride, which is fine, and not really what I'm talking about. While I'm all for the freedom of experimenting with craigslist sex, the sex I'm thinking about in this case is a union of two thinking, feeling beings, a type of sex that's a merging of people (two, three, four, however many it takes), that's not abusive, completely respectful, safely raucous and yeah, raunchy. Hot sex, in other words, between people who care about one another…and the land they're rolling around on.

By way of research, I questioned my coworkers and fellow sexually active friends. I consider it a varied population, as some are married with children, some are long-term dating, some new to the world of gardening itself, some recently betrothed and thus committing to a lifetime of sex and gardening, and some who don't like gardening and don't do it at all. One man felt strongly about the question, when I posed it to him via Skype. He said:

Who cares if gardening improves your sex life? Gardening is a good alternative to sex. It's invigorating. It's inspiring. It's fun and bonding to do with your partner. It helps you live longer and healthier. In other words, gardening and sex are nearly identical, except that one you do in front of your neighbors and the other not so often. When my anonymous wife and I have a good day of gardening, we are more likely to have good sex that night. When we have a bad day of gardening–for example, she correctly points out that I'm doing something stupid and wrong–we are less likely to have good sex that night. But I can also anonymously and seriously say that a good day in the garden does improve my mood in general and thus my libido and romantic inclination. But that's just because gardening is what makes me happy. If I liked mountain biking and didn't like gardening, I don't think gardening would do it for me.

It got me thinking. Maybe it's not gardening, but passion itself that drives one crazy between the sheets (or, perched on a turbine). But then again, there are a lot of people with a big passion for videogames, and I'm going to just put it out there and say a gardener is probably more in tune to the physical act of love than a gamer, who's more likely glued to the boob tube. Rougher hands, to begin with, not to mention an appetite for delicious things, sweat, and getting dirty. I'm sure there are exceptions. Gamers, don't take it personally.

I turned to another source, a young woman who believes that gardeners do, in fact, make better lovers. She claims, "We're more in tune with fecundity." Fecundity! This word means the quality or power of producing abundantly, and connotes ideas of fruitfulness and fertility. To this woman, the intricacy and attention one pays to their land -- the weather, the weeding, the plant placement -- translates directly into interpersonal relationships. To her, if you love to work in the garden, then you'll love to cook the food, serve it to someone you find attractive, and then…attend to them intricately, all night long, and some in the morning. Her belief is that the attention to growth and process one holds while gardening is transferable to sex. And she says it's better sex. Better than the sex she's had with non-gardeners.

My artist friend, on the other hand, is not a gardener, and he has a different take. To him, "Sex is better when you're happy. And these people are probably happier if they're gardening. I, for one, draw, which I think makes my sex better. Anything fulfilling one does in life will do that, I think." I feel like getting fulfilled…right now…

What say you?

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018