Sydney, Sep 7 | Over the course of the pandemic, interest in gardening has surged as people look for new ways to get outside to nature while being stuck at home.
As residents in Sydney entered into their precious days of spring and the 11th week of lockdown, old green thumbs and novices talked about the important role gardening has played during the pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.
Wendy Stanford who lives in the Greater Sydney region is just one of the thousands of Australians who have taken to their gardens in new ways during the pandemic.
She told the news agency that during the most recent Sydney lockdown, gardening has become an important part of her life and has given her and her partner something to focus on each day.
“When lockdowns first started, we planted some purple bulbs. We have enjoyed watching them grow every day. Now with spring here we get to see them bloom.”
When the local nurseries have been closed, Stanford said she had to adapt by using more local seeds.
“Because we haven’t been able to buy new seeds, we have been walking around and finding native trees that drop their seeds, and then experimenting with growing them into plants.”
As gardening supply stores have shut down due to health restrictions, Sydneysiders have to come up with new ways to source their seeds.
Sandy, a representative from Happy Valley Seeds, said the seed companies’ recent uptick in online sales has been twofold.
“We have seen an uptick at the start of each lockdown. On top of this, all-seed sellers across Australia have increased interest in Spring,” he told Xinhua.
Diana Barnes, who runs a website and podcast called Growing Vegetables Down Under, said the benefits of gardening and its role in people’s lives have grown especially during the pandemic.
She said during a time when supply chains are stretched, and visiting a supermarket could pose a health risk, gardening has provided an alternative source of fresh food, she said.
“People who were stockpiling seeds were worried we may be cut off from food sources. People also saw a benefit in becoming self-sufficient in some areas,” Barnes said.
In her own work, she had noticed an increase in followers asking for guidance for growing edible plants, and a number of seed supply companies have struggled to keep up with the increased demand for seeds.
Besides food security, Barnes thought getting into gardening and doing something in nature will help people maintain good mental health and draw them away from devices.
“It takes you outdoors in the sun and fresh air and this also improves your mood and outlook. It is a great education to pass on to children and everyone is keen to get them outdoors to play in the dirt.”
She said the pandemic had shifted people’s priorities. For many people, it has been the first time they have had enough free time to get down into the soil.
“People’s lives slowed down as we were told to stay home and so those who have always wanted to start a garden, actually had the time to do it,” said Barnes.
In a time where the days can meld into one another and the plodding of routine becomes particularly stark, being able to nurture something can counteract these negative emotions.
“When you plant a seed, tend it, see it sprout, watch it grow, see it start to form the vegetable you eat, you receive a great sense of accomplishment,” said Barnes.
Barnes said anyone can start gardening even if they don’t have a backyard. “You can garden anywhere. You just need to adapt to your circumstances.”
“If you are in an apartment with no balcony, focus on growing leafy crops at the window hydroponically or in small pots with drainage. Leaves like lettuce and baby spinach have shallow roots and can live in small pots.”
Gardening takes practice and patience, and there has been no better time to take it up than during a lockdown.
If you don’t have any luck the first time, as it occurred to Barnes — “Just sow more seeds next spring.”