02 / April / 2020 : 23-56

Why gardening should be your go-to quarantine activity

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. And rosemary, again, great with your lamb or whatever, and a beautiful herb as well."

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.

"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. You see, so many people come on Twitter, and they've got their potatoes in a tunnel in the middle of January, and they can't wait but they're going to be a little bit disappointed. Be careful. Hopefully we're going to get some nice weather and we're going to be able to sow a few seeds."

"Just take it steady, and get yourself an old-fashioned book. 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."
John Stirland 
Gardening expert

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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