It’s been an extraordinary few weeks and, like many people, I am now self-isolating due to this pesky coronavirus. It’s daunting, a little bit scary and, frankly, a bit of a challenge too – particularly with a lively six-year-old in the family!
These are trying times for sure, but it’s not all doom and gloom, and there are even positives to be found in an enforced stay at home. For gardeners this is a golden opportunity to get into the garden and crack on with some much-needed horticultural therapy. Our gardens are never going to look better! So here are a few ideas to help you and your garden shine during the lockdown.
Slow Down and Reconnect
Okay, so the first thing to do is take a deep breath, slow down, and reconnect with why you fell in love with gardening. Take pleasure in the simple things: the joy of sowing seeds then expectantly waiting for the first seedlings to push through; the satisfaction that comes from a beautiful bed of healthy vegetables after a weeding session; or the elation of picking your own organic, pesticide-free fruit. Be mindful. Be present in the moment. Slow down and take the time to think about what you’re doing and the wonderful results of it. Gardeners are patient and kind people – be proud of who you are!
Slowing down gives you the opportunity to really notice the wonders of nature all around us. Spend a lazy afternoon watching the birds come and go. How many species can you spot? Are they busy nest building for the new breeding season? Perhaps you could offer some additional food to help them cope with the lack of pickings at this time of year?
Go on the hunt for bugs too. Pay attention to what’s turning up in your garden. Pests are often followed closely by their predators – nature’s magnificent balancing act in action! Turn citizen scientist and take part in The Big Bug Hunt, our project to track and trace the movements of bugs so we can launch a pest prediction service that will help gardeners to sidestep pests naturally, without the use of harmful artificial pesticides.
Tackle Those Put-Off Tasks
Have you got an area of your garden that needs a bit of a tidy up? Hey, no worries, we all do! Now’s the time to tackle those gardening jobs you’ve been putting off. Yes, there’s a bit of hard graft to put in, but consider how satisfied you’ll feel with having finally ticked them off your to-do list. Weed through beds. Clean the greenhouse (mine’s long overdue!) or finally get round to making that compost bin from those pallets you’ve been saving.
Get the growing season off to a sparkling start. Wash and tidy old pots. Sort out and catalogue your seed collection. Cut back the faded remains of last year’s perennials before growth starts in earnest. Or prune overhanging branches to let more light in ready for this season’s vegetables.
Get Garden Healthy
Some jobs require a bit of sweat. Take a moment to warm up and stretch before any physical exercise – and watch your back! Jobs such as digging or mowing can be great calorie burners if you gradually build up the amount you do. Reframe how you think of them: they’re not chores but a great way to stay in shape!
In fact the garden is a perfect venue for all kinds of exercises that promote physical and mental wellbeing. Some yoga on the lawn? Or maybe a mindfulness meditation that takes in all the birdsong. It’s all good stuff and more time spent outdoors will give us our much-needed fix of vitamin D while helping stress and worries to ebb away.
Plan, Plant and Produce
Of course, now’s also a great time to plan the productive and beautiful garden you’ve always dreamed of. The vegetable garden will also benefit from a few nectar-rich flowers to pull in beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. They’ll love having something extra to feed on and in return will help to pollinate our crops, with predatory bugs also helping tackle pests such as aphids.
Time at home is an invaluable opportunity to improve your general gardening know-how. Brush up on the basics using the wealth of expertly-written articles available on GrowVeg.co.uk. Peruse more than 1000 gardening guides – you’ll have to put up with my ugly mug in the videos but you may well glean a few tips by way of reward!
Connect with Those Who are Isolated
We’re all meant to be reducing our contact with others but gardening can still be social through the wonders of modern technology. A shared interest such as growing your own food can be a great icebreaker. Why not pick up the phone or video call someone who’s likely to be feeling isolated or anxious at this uncertain time, and chat about the joys of gardening? It’s the 21st century way to rebuild the caring communities of the past. Or visit DigForVictory.org, our community project to help empower gardeners to fight isolation and build resilience through growing food.
Any period of challenge or adversity may be turned around by a positive mindset. Seize the chance to create a lasting legacy on your garden. Give something back to Mother Nature through what you grow, and plan more for yourself to eat and enjoy too.
Are you self-isolating or in lockdown? Tell us what you’re doing in the garden to pass the time and share your plans, hopes and aspirations with the wider world. We don’t have to be lonely if we pull together!