So many people have turned to the soil during lockdown, so Ruth looks at the many benefits of keeping the habit going

Thanks to the virus lockdown, people have had more time at home and in the garden, so there have been more people gardening.

Hopefully it’s a trend that will continue so here are 10 top reasons why gardening should be encouraged and is good for us and the world around us.

And don’t forget, you don’t need a garden to garden – balconies, windowboxes and windowsills are great places for growing veggies, herbs and chillies!

 

Gardening is a great way of keeping fit – jus don’t overdo it!

1: Physical exercise. Not everyone is a fan of running, the gym, or yoga and pilates on the lounge floor and gardening is the perfect way to work up a sweat, get your heart going and tone up those muscles. Just remember not to go at it too hard and fast as a pulled muscle is no laughing matter.

 

Growing your own flowers and edibles can make sound economic sense

2: Saving money. The price of fruit and veg is soaring so it makes sense to grow your own. I spent 18p on pea seeds for this year’s crop (and only then because I felt I hadn’t saved enough seeds from last year). That 18p has given us enough pea plants to hopefully fill a freezer draw for winter consumption. (And don’t get me started on the amount of money we saved over last winter on salads after reusing last year’s tomato growbags for salad sowing.)

 

Few things are are satisfying than cutting the flowers and harvesting the crops you’ve grown (Picture: Alamy)

3: A sense of satisfaction.  There is absolutely nothing – nothing! – more satisfying that growing something from seed, tending it at every stage and then watching it fruit or flower. That feeling of ‘I did that!’ is utterly addictive!

 

A bit of healthy mud is fine – as long as you wash your hands before eating

4: Getting grubby. In normal times we live in an over-sanitised world where everything is ‘anti-bac’ and germ-free. Research shows that this may have some links to the rise on childhood allergies; our bodies are so used to being clean they throw a wobbly if anything slightly dirty comes along. Gardening is inherently, wonderfully mucky and can help build up your body’s immune system – though scrubbing your hands with a bar of soap and a brush is strongly recommended after gardening and before eating!

 

Chillies, herbs, salads, tomatoes, radishes and strawberries can all be grown on a windowsill, window box or balcony

5: Think big in small spaces. Don’t be deterred if you live in a flat or a house with no real garden space – that’s what houseplants are for! Create your own jungle or succulent-filled desert. Also, herbs, salads, spring onions, radishes, chillies and little ‘Tumbling Tom’ tomatoes can be grown on windowsills or balconies and almost anything can be grown in a patio container.

 

Wildlife increasingly relies on our gardens for food and sanctuary, so look after your furred, spiked, scaled and feathered visitors

6: Helping wildlife. Wildlife is under pressure like never before thanks to intensive farming and building. Gardens are increasingly a refuge for insects, birds, amphibians and mammals. Help them by growing native and ‘single’ plants (rather than fussy hybrids), creating a water feature and putting out fresh food and water for birds and hedgehogs (never mealworms for the latter). Yu can do this is a flat too – our assistant editor Janey has bird feeders outside the window of hers and has thriving families of sparrows and blue tits!

 

It you’ve gotta lotta chutney or an excess harvest, share it with your neighbours

7: Being neighbourly. Got a glut of beans or made loads of chutney with your green tomatoes and over-ripe courgettes? Then share your goodies with your neighbours. Knock on their door, say hello (currently at a safe social distance) and offer them some of your harvest.

 

You can’t beat the taste of fruit and veg straight from the garden

8: Taste sensation. It has been said so many times before, but always deserves reiterating, that absolutely nothing tastes better than fresh fruit and veg straight from the garden. Also, no road miles are involved and you know exactly how it’s been grown and what, if any, chemicals were involved.

 

Gardening is a year-round thing but it is worth the cold and wet

9: It’s a year-round thing. A garden isn’t just for summer – it’s for all year, every year, and that’s why it’s so brilliant! OK, maybe it’s not so great in February when it’s pouring with rain and blowing a hoolie, but I use those darker months to sow seeds and plan the coming year and ton winter days when the weather allows, a spot of gardening is the perfect way to blow away those centrally-heated cobwebs.

 

Weeding is not only essential, it is extremely therapeutic

10: Peace of mind. We live in truly tumultuous times so it’s hardly surprising things can feel overwhelming. Gardens and green spaces – including balconies – give us headspace to breathe, think and be still. Mediate while you’re weeding, run your hands over your windowsill herbs to release their scent, chat to your houseplants (don’t feel silly, we all do it!) It really does help put things into perspective and help you face tomorrow.

  • If you are depressed or having suicidal thoughts and have no one to turn to, or are concerned about someone else, please don’t forget The Samaritans.
  • They are there 24 hours a day, every day to listen and support, and their number is 116 123, free to call.
  • You can also email them at jo@samaritans.org and find further details at samaritans.org

 

We are here for you

Although lockdown is easing, many people are still confined to their homes or concerned about going out because they are vulnerable to catching C19.

Here at AG we appreciate that and are doing our best to keep connected with our readers though the magazine, this website and also through social media.

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer withing 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades. Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@ti-media.com

amateurgardening.com/blog

We already have thriving Facebook page but are also on Twitter and Instagram. These sites are a brilliant way of chatting to people, sharing news, information, pictures and just saying hello – we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Best of all, as gardeners are generally lovely folk, more interested in plants, hedgehogs, tea and cake than political shenanigans and point-scoring, so the chat is friendly and welcoming.

You can find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/AmateurGardeningMagazine

Twitter: Twitter.com/TheAGTeam

Instagram: instagram.com/amgardening_mag

So please drop by, follow us, ‘like’ our posts and say hello – we will reply as soon as we can. Happy gardening!