Saturday, 28 March 2020

Covid-19 and Gardening

Well, it's true folks - we are now at war. With coronavirus.

“At war?” I hear you say, “bit of an exaggeration, surely?”

We have rationing, lack of supplies, curfews, isolation, neighbours telling tales on other neighbours, finger pointing and halo waving, we have actual people dying: it's a war.

On the good side, we have amazing acts of selfless bravery: not going over the line with bayonets fixed, admittedly, but we have people doing shopping for vulnerable folks, picking up prescriptions, checking on those who live alone. We are also, for the first time since it was invented, been using the internet properly: to pool resources, to ask for and offer help, to pass round food, medical items etc to those who need them, and to engender community spirit by supporting each other, and by trying to do little acts of kindness, without risking our health or breaking any restrictions.

So how does this all relate to gardening?

Well, a lot of people are, for the first time, going to realise that in a crisis, it's the fresh food which is first to be hit. Ok, ok, toilet rolls as well, but that was a moment of insanity and I still don't quite know why people went crazy to buy up vast amounts of toilet roll, rather than tinned food, flour and medical supplies....

Anyone with any sense (or who was brought up with grandparents who lived through the last War) will have a cupboard containing tinned food (I can hear my Nan saying “enough tinned food to feed a family of four for a week” even as I type), and will have a reasonable stock of the daily essentials.

But huge numbers of people don't do this: and it's hardly their fault, because we live in times of plenty, we are richer now than we have ever been before: it is fair to say that we no longer have the luxury of having women at home, bringing up the children, doing the shopping, planning the meals and keeping both garden and household running.

We've been spoilt rotten in recent decades: shops are open every hour of every day, we have grown accustomed to being able to zoom round to the shops in our cars, bringing home a load of short-use food including ready meals, so we've lost the knack of planning for a week ahead, buying things which allow us to eat up leftovers, not wasting food...

But fresh food is suddenly becoming a problem.

Between supply difficulties, and wanting to avoid going shopping, we are now realising that getting fresh veg is a problem.

And at the same time, an awful lot of people are being told to stay at home, are bored rigid, and are just realising that they have a fantastic resource right outside the back door: a garden, which has probably not been used for anything other than kicking a football about when the kids were small, and maybe sitting out in once in a blue moon.

Guess what? All three problems - lack of fresh food, boredom, and a wasted garden - can be solved in one easy step.

Grow Your Own.

Yes! Let's use those under-utilised gardens to grow some veg, help us to avoid the shops, and to retain our sanity?

Over the next few weeks - or possibly months - I shall be posting every day with information about growing veg at home, along with regular Homework: yes, my Trainee may be temporarily unable to work with me, but that's no excuse for halting the learning process! So I shall be asking a question each day, and answering it the following day.

And I invite you all to contribute comments, answers, and additional questions!

We might be feeling a bit alone at the moment, but if we can connect through a simple garden question, well, it might make some of us feel a bit less lonely.

So let's start with a question: How can I grow my own veg at home???

Let's get started...

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