Over the next few weeks or possibly months we all face two extremes — loneliness or being completely overwhelmed by the constant demands from our bored children. There is no answer to these two situations but there is a way of making life a little more pleasurable. This is to garden.
I have spent a very happy afternoon in my garden. It’s given me space from the rest of the family and whilst trying to weed out all traces of ground elder (I’m never going to manage this!) I completely forgot about Covid-19. I’m very aware that I’m so lucky to have a garden to immerse myself in and that some people have small or non-existent plots. The good news is that gardening takes many forms and it’s a hobby that can slot into any home.
Prepare to grow veg
My first suggestion is to make this the year that you grow some veg. This afternoon I have prepared my two raised beds and tomorrow I’ll be sowing direct (straight into the garden soil) broad beans, carrots and spinach. Obviously, there are many different vegetables to grow but I’m focusing on what all members of my family will eat.
If you only have a patio then don’t despair. Veg will grow very successfully in pots. The trick is to use the largest pots you can find and place them in full sun. Sun is the most vital ingredient for cropping plants. In window boxes loose leaf lettuce will be a success and tomatoes such as ‘Tumbling Tom’ work a treat in a hanging basket.
For those with no outside space grow a few chillies and some herbs on the windowsill. Invest in a drip tray and fill it with basil, parsley and chives.
TOP TIP: No one wants 50 lettuces at once so sow quick growing veg little and often for a succession of edibles.
Gardening with kids
In my experience children will engage in gardening only if it’s messy and quick. Forget the idea of getting them weeding – I’ve tried it.
Sowing speedy growing seed such as radish and lettuce is a great idea or sow some sunflower seeds and plan for the tallest sunflower competition later in summer.
Another good suggeston is to subscribe to Mud and Bloom. They will send you a gardening activity kit for every month of the year.
Flower pressing, bark rubbing, potato painting and bird watching are all great ways to entertain your little ones. But, the best activity of all is to arm them with a torch and bucket and send them on a slug and snail hunt at dusk. They’ll love it!
Click HERE for a free download that I have created with Orphans Publishing and local printmaker, Hannah Madden. A gardening project for every day of April for kids. I’m hoping it will help those who are struggling to entertain their little ones. All projects are easy and most of the items used focus on recycling and make-do and mend.
Listen and learn
For those that are self-isolating and want to fill their days with a positive subject then I highly recommend a gardening podcast. There are plenty to choose from and to find them simply google ‘gardening podcasts.’ The podcast I create with the gardening app Candide is called Fresh from the Pod. In it I interview famous gardeners such as Chris Beardshaw and Toby Buckland. They’re light-hearted and certainly uplifting.
For those who prefer to read, search for a gardening blog that you can relate to or sink into the sofa with a good book. In February my new book Diary of a Modern Country Gardener was launched, and I’ve been so touched by the response it has had. It’s a practical book following my life as a full-time garden and it’s packed with humour — think Bridget Jones goes gardening. It’s been printed, designed, written and illustrated in Herefordshire. To buy a signed copy visit here or try the Castle Bookshop in Ludlow.
Mail order plant shopping
Now is the perfect time to plant a new border. With the cancellation of plant fairs and RHS shows nurseries need our support. Don’t stop buying plants. So many offer a mail order service so get your thinking cap on and transform your garden this spring. What are you waiting for?
Stockton Bury Gardens
The garden is not opening in April as planned. For updates keep an eye on the official website .