A time to grow – gardening during lockdown 30 Mar 2020
With some of us having more time on our hands whilst stuck at home and others hoping to have fresh, tasty veg that doesn’t entail hours of queuing at the supermarket, growing your own has recently boomed in popularity.
However, it can be daunting knowing where to start and what to grow. So, here are a few tips to try and ensure that your fingers are green, and your efforts are fruitful.
Firstly, there’s some great advice right there with you, for every seed you plant. On the packet! I know that I’m often so keen to get things planted that I won’t even look at these crucial words. They really will take you a long way to getting the best out of your seeds. Is it the right time of year to sow? How deep should the seeds be planted? What temperature do the seeds need to germinate? Do these seeds need to grow out in a garden, or can I grow these in a pot on a windowsill? All the answers are right there on the packet.
Secondly, and this is learned from sore experience, don’t sow the whole seed packet at once. Growing your own is a bit hit and miss – over water your seeds and they could rot before starting to grow, forget to water your seedlings and they’ll be shrivelled before you know it. So, it’s always best to sow just a few seeds at first so that you can have another go if things don’t go to plan. Plus, you won’t end up with the full 1,500 Little Gem lettuces you have seeds for all being ready to eat at once but can enjoy them in manageable quantities over a long period.
That’s another point that is easily overlooked – how long it takes for different crops to be ready to eat. Rocket is aptly named. It really is straight out of the starting blocks and ready to enjoy in a few weeks. On the other hand, you’ll be waiting a whole year to enjoy your purple sprouting broccoli. As a rule of thumb, leafy salad crops will be your best bet if you’re looking for quick results.
Which brings me on to this: there’s no substitute for patience and regular attention. An old saying goes ‘The most fertile part of the garden is right outside the back door’. So true. Which is good to know if you’ve suddenly found yourself flush with hours to spend on a dwindling number of must-see box sets. Regular watering, careful checks for slugs and bugs and keeping an eye out so that you pick your crops when they are at their prime will all pay huge dividends.
And finally, share your experiences. Gardeners and allotmenteers like nothing better than to help out newbies, and whilst they can’t dispense that advice in person at the moment, they can still respond to calls for help on social media. Plus, growing things can be a great activity for kids, giving them, like us, something lovely to look forward to in these uncertain times.
By Amanda Yorwerth, Professional Gardener. Follow Amanda on Twitter @AmandaEY