Why gardening should be your go-to quarantine activity

Stephanie Owens,Cole Owens
Stephanie Owens,Cole Owens Copyright Steve Helber/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright Steve Helber/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
By Euronews with John Stirland
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One expert is urging people to get into gardening as a way of relaxing amid the coronavirus pandemic.


Fed-up with being on lockdown and anxious about the coronavirus pandemic?

One expert says the answer is getting your fingers green.

Gardening expert John Stirland told Euronews people looking to relax should pick up a trowel for a productive and healthy hobby.

"Just get in there!" he told Euronews.

"If you've got a garden, just get out there and enjoy it because it's therapeutic, and you're out there with nature, and at this time of year as well, the birds are singing, they're mating and everything like that, so it's a fabulous time to start," he said.

"Unfortunately, some people have not a lot of room, and that can cause problems. But you can grow some wonderful plants actually in the house."

One of the solutions for the apartment-bound horticulturalist are herbs. They're easy to grow, don't require a lot of space and give an instant payoff of spicing up dinner.

"If you're very, very limited in your space, I would go for the herbs," said Stirland. "Because you can transform a meal as well. Chives, beautiful chives, transforms an omelette in the morning that does, and you need hardly any room to actually grow it."

My top five herbs:

Chives – so useful and lovely blue flowers.

Rosemary – great with lamb and for flavouring roast potatoes.

Mint – all-time favourite for mint sauce and mint tea.

Sage – for partnering onion in stuffing.

Parsley – for white sauce with fish or gammon.
John Stirland
Gardening expert

Gardening has been found to provide therapeutic benefits, including reductions in both anxiety and depression. Studies also show that spending time in nature has huge mental health benefits. With an uptick in mental health complaints in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, now might be the perfect time to grab a spade.

But it can be a daunting task for someone whose past is littered with dead cacti. The best approach is one of discovery, said Stirland.

Top Tips

Stirland has some more specific tips for people looking to give it a go.

"Try and get the basic information. With gardening, there's a little bit of chemistry, there's all sorts of things. Don't try and grow too early."

According to Stirland, the two main requirement for success are a well-drained soil or compost and lots of sunshine to help bring out the aromatic qualities in the leaves.

The base of a south facing wall is an ideal place, as it is usually dry and hot. Plants can be purchased in small pots from garden centres and simply planted out or potted up for you to grow on and enjoy. Once growing, water regularly and with containers use a liquid feed. Of course, not only are herbs aromatic and wonderful to touch but they can also transform a simple meal into a gourmet dish.

More likely to go for Uber Eats than whip up an omelette? House plants might be more your style, and they can be just as simple to grow.

Being cooped up in a house all day is no ones ‘cup of tea’ and no matter how pleasant the furnishings may be this type of environment can bring on tiredness and lethargy, says Stirland.

Houseplants can transform your surroundings and help bring a little of the garden into a home while also improving the air quality. If the air in your home is a bit dry, consider misting your plants. The conditions within a room can vary greatly and light will be much brighter as you get nearer the windows. This again allows you to grow a wider range of plants with the main rule being ‘the darker green the leaf the greater the shade tolerance’. This means plants with variegated leaves can be placed in stronger light and flowering plants in the window itself. All house plants will require a regular liquid feed.

My top five house plants:

Phalaenopsis - ‘moth orchid’ – ideal for totally shaded window sill, flowers last for months.

Sansevieria – ‘mother-in-law’s-tongue,' indestructible and stately.

Streptocarpus – ‘cape primrose’ flower for months.

Chlorophytum - ‘spider plant’ variegated leaves, favourite with the kids.

Amaryllis – stunning bulb with giant flowers.
John Stirland
Gardening expert

"Just take it steady, and get yourself an old-fashioned book," he suggested. "Get yourself a basic book and give it a good read. And just then have a go. And it's like everything else, you learn from your mistakes."


The best part is the payoff — less stress, and a happy new hobby.

"It really is beautiful, just to be able to touch plants, hold them, feel the leaves, etcetera. It's just fantastic."

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