Gardening is good for you
We have just been reading about research from around the world that has confirmed something that many gardeners already knew – gardening is really good for you! The same report told us that 49.5% of us do some gardening every week, but this doesn’t mean that the other half can’t enjoy some benefits from gardens or gardening, even in the middle of winter – so let’s ‘grow ourselves healthy…’
Be good to yourself No. 1
It’s easy to understand that gardening can keep us active and fit as well as feeding our creative side. But you don’t actually need to do any gardening for gardens to work on your emotions and make you feel better and give you pleasure. But to achieve this midwinter lift to our spirits we must be able to see the garden and if it is just outside our window the ‘fix’ can be immediate and continuous! Henry our cat is happy to stay inside when it’s very cold and dark to enjoy the view out to the garden.
He gets more excited during the daytime when he can see the activities of our visiting feathered friends. Luckily the visitors seems too clever for our rather idle cat! Try not to let your cats out at daybreak or sunset when the birds really need to feed in order to survive. Sitting inside watching these wildlife visitors is really rewarding and absorbing. The scientists have also shown that this gentle activity is good for us, and aids recovery if we have been ill and can also calms down over excited children.
But to really enjoy this daily performance there are a few things you must do: keep your feeders filled as your visitors will come to rely on the food you put out for them; keep your feeders clean to avoid any build-up of diseases that can be as fatal as being caught by a cat; keep a supply of clean fresh water available especially when we have freezing temperatures.
Be good to yourself No. 2
In late winter it can be frustrating if the weather doesn’t allow you to get outside to start growing things. But do not despair, you can start growing edible crops indoors on the windowsill to delight your soul and feed your body….
Microgreens – memories of school projects growing seeds on wet kitchen roll – we have so many different flavours of seed for you to try – fenugreek, mustards, rocket, basil, radish and so on. They just need a little warmth to sprout and are a divine addition to salads and as garnishes at any time of year!
Cut-and-come-again – you can choose the same seeds to sow into shallow pots filled with seed and cutting compost – covering the seeds with a little sprinkling of compost before giving a gentle watering. Just start cutting how much you need with scissors once the seedlings are 3-4” (8-10cm) tall. You’ll get two to three cuttings per sowing and there is no waste as you only crop what you need.
Forcing garden plants – you can dig up small clumnps of mint and chives, pot them up and bring them indoors to get early growth. Put a bucket or rhubard forcer over a clump of rhubarb in the garden to get some early lovely tender pink stems to pick.
Be good to yourself No. 3
New Year’s resolutions are far behind us and Spring’s arrival is always a bit fickle so how keen are you to get out into the garden and restore you mind and body with some creative gardening?
If you are one of the more reluctant gardeners can we persuade you to turn your thoughts to the wonderful and very fashionable Oriental Hellebores? No matter how reluctant you are it won’t take too much effort to plant one of these most rewarding plants in your garden and if you are lucky enough to already have some in the garden it will take even less effort to go out into your garden armed with scissors and snip off a few heads to bring indoors.
If you are treating yourself to a new plant they enjoy being planted in soil that is neither too dry nor too wet and where they will get a little sun and little shade. Do cultivate the soil well before planting. They should be placed somewhere you will see them at this time of year, we sometimes enjoy a new one flowering in a pot by the front door, only planting it in a permanent position after flowering.
Floating the heads in a bowl of water indoors really delights the soul and proves the point that even a little something from the garden is good for you!