Gardening provides countless benefits to both physical and mental health and it’s the perfect way to lift spirits during this period of isolation. Whether it’s a grand, landscaped affair or a few small plants on a terrace, looking after plants keeps the mind active while you’re at home, and creates a beautiful space for others to enjoy. And of course, you might end up with some fresh fruit and vegetables to enjoy too.
Gillian Daines, Gardener at Audley Villages, shares her top tips on how to care for your garden:
- Spend time planning the space Before you rush to buy your seeds from the supermarket or online, it’s best to plan out the space. Think about how you can practically use it throughout the year. Bear in mind the sun, the direction of the wind and also the soil type. Once you’ve looked into what you’d like to plant wait until after it’s rained to take your first step as the soil is damp.
- Get started with perennial produce Perennial fruits and herbs, which include strawberries, garlic, basil and tomatoes, are a good starting point as they typically live more than two years, so you don’t need to dig or re-pot each year. Do keep in mind that if they are growing well, they do deplete the nutrients in the soil so you can use compost to keep up the soil quality. Planting herbs also has the added benefit of repelling insects due to their strongly scented leaves.
- Companion planting To make the most out of the space you have, plant complementary plants next to each other. They tend to forge mutually beneficial relationships which provide nutrients, keep away pests and improve pollination. Avoid planting members of the same family together as they will fight for the same nutrients, so keep your onions away from your leeks! Good examples are garlic and carrots as the strong scent of the former deters carrot root fly.
- Think about the seasons We can spend days nurturing our gardens and then the Great British weather can lead to a less than successful outcome. If you plan out what you’re planting to go with the seasons you should really be growing something every month, even in the winter. Vegetables like broad beans and peas grow well throughout the colder months and brassicas are usually planted in early summer. If you’ve been able to treat yourself with a greenhouse you can keep the summer produce growing throughout the dark winter days.
- Bring the garden indoors If you have limited outdoor space, a windowsill is a great option to use for plants that can have a positive impact on you. There are certain house plants that provide a brilliant service, from purifying the air we breathe, to simply adding colour and fragrance to our indoor space. It is even possible to grow your own herbs and vegetables, many of which will thrive in the warmer indoor temperatures.