It can be hard for many people to cope with life during lockdown. In my opinion (slightly biased of course) one of the best activities one can do to cope with uncertainty, anxiety, financial pressure, boredom, lethargy and all the other side effects of lockdown is to garden.
Each day I start by looking at the long-term weather forecast. This helps me plan out the coming days, giving me a sense of purpose and certainty. Vigorous outdoor jobs such as hedge trimming, mowing, digging, heavy pruning and spreading mulch are ideal for cold or overcast days. Sunny weather with little wind is perfect for weed spraying and planting. I find weeding is best done a few days after rain when the weeds are growing strongly but seem to be easier to pull. Fruit harvesting is carried out on any dry day. Rainy days are also welcomed, as this gives me the chance to rest or catch up on inside jobs, which might include tending my greenhouse and indoor plants or researching new plants or growing techniques on the internet or from books.
A couple of hours each day in the garden helps calm the soul and reconnect with the natural environment. As I weed, I become aware of bird song, the hum of bees working nearby flowers, the scent of bruised herbs. I start to notice the unfurling of new spring growth, the emergence of spring blossom and the richness of the soil – alive with worms and beneficial micro-organisms. And finally, once the work is done, the pleasure of sitting with a cup of freshly made coffee looking out at the lush bounty I’ve helped create.
A couple of hours each day in the garden
helps calm the soul and reconnect with the natural environment.
One of the best things about gardening is that it is one of the cheapest hobbies one can indulge in. Basic tools can often be purchased cheaply at garage sales or op shops. Fertilisers don’t cost the earth (excuse the pun), indeed some of them can be harvested for free, such as seaweed, seagrass and animal manures. If you garden organically or close to organically, then very little needs to be spent on sprays as the ecosystem you create does most of the heavy lifting, and again, some sprays can be made at home from common household products and plants.
Above all though, you will experience the sensory delights of harvesting and eating your own fresh produce.
Nothing compares to newly harvested asparagus spears, fresh sweetcorn and just-dug potatoes, as each of these vegetables lose taste for every day that passes from harvesting to eating. Likewise, the explosion of fragrant juice from a sun-warmed plum or tomato is incomparable to those purchased from a supermarket. And how to put a price on that sense of self-satisfaction when you walk past broccoli for sale at $5.99 per head, knowing that you’ve got freshly picked vegetables waiting for you when you get home.
If all that doesn’t convince you to start gardening, then creating your own little Garden of Eden with lush foliage, soothing water features, fragrant flowers, shady restful spaces and a habitat for birds and insects will do more for your state of mind than just about anything I can think of. And that, in these turbulent and worrying times, is worth its weight in gold.