18 days ago
Which Make Yourself at Home-r are you? is a six-part series focusing on some of the types of people that have emerged during the lockdown period, either through need, habit, or hobby.
This week we’re going green with The Titchmarsh. There’s been a big rise in interest in gardening since lockdown began, and for good reason – gardeners reap positive benefits on both their mental and physical health. The Titchmarsh knows the solace in sowing and the peace in pruning, as well the quiet that comes from hiding in the shed during lockdown!
We rooted-out our Head of Horticultural Services James Lloyd to talk planting, watering, pruning and harvesting, and here’s what he had to say:
"We all love our outside spaces in summer, don’t we? Whether it’s a garden, courtyard or apartment balcony, if you’re lucky enough to have a little slice of greenery, there are some easy things you can do to keep things growing well.
"If it’s hot, move any planters into a shaded area and keep them well-watered. Cut back herbs to encourage a fresh crop of tasty young leaves and dead-head your bedding plants and perennials to stop them self-seeding, and hopefully get some more flowers. If you don’t know how, a quick internet search will do the trick.
"Planting winter-flowering bulbs such as hyacinths and narcissus now will see them in full bloom for your Christmas dinner table – dare I mention that word?!"
No garden? No worries – the Titchmarsh isn’t restricted by lawns and hedges. "Chillies are easy to grow inside and come in very handy if you like your food spicy! Scrape a few seeds out of any fresh or dried chillies and plant them in a pot. Cover lightly with soil and keep the soil damp and the pot in a sunny spot. Seeds should sprout in ten days or so."
Another ‘grow your own’ activity makes use of food that might otherwise go to waste:
"We’ve all had potatoes start sprouting," James says. "Put one in a deep bucket and cover with 10cm of soil. Every time the leaves poke through, cover with more soil until you reach the top of the bucket. Harvest once the plants flower and, hey presto – more potatoes!"
"Inside plants obviously need to be kept watered and there are some clever devices available which can give a steady flow of water for up to two weeks. These might come in useful next year when you can actually go on holiday! Don’t overwater though – more house plants die from too much water than too little."
Virtual garden tours are also an option for those who are shielding and miss the joys of outside space – check out a few favourites here.
Should the kids eventually find you hiding in the shed, James suggests getting them involved in the garden to cure boredom: "It’s great to involve kids with the gardening. If you can, give them their own little patch and let them choose what to plant. Kids will love the autonomy that comes with making the decisions, and the garden is one place where mess making is almost always productive!"
"You could also get them building a bug hotel using leftover bricks, logs and pipes, or spark their interest by helping them create a miniature fairy garden which incorporates plants, pots, any little treasures they’ve found and maybe some painted stones." Pretty tempting, we think – even if you don’t have children!
"Just one word of warning," James adds, "gardening can be a surprisingly physical activity, so don’t get excited and over-do it! There are a lot of gardening-related injuries at this time of year, so be kind to your back.”
Next week, it’s the turn of the Home Security Sleuth – never one to have a problem with staying alert!
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