Tricks to make gardening more simple
Summer can be a very satisfying season for gardeners, as allotments are brimming with the fruits of their labour. There is so much to gain from gardening, probably more than you assume. Not only are gardens pretty, and a nice space to share with friends and family, they also offer the perfect opportunity to be active in the sunshine, and be exposed to vitamin D (which is crucial for your bone health and benefits your immune system). Your garden can even become your own peaceful retreat, when you’re not socialising. Spending time in nature is crucial for our mental and physical health, and gardening is the perfect aerobic exercise for those who don’t like exercising! You can become so focused you don’t even notice breaking a sweat. 30 minutes of gardening burns as many calories as playing volleyball or doing yoga. Weeding, reaching, and lifting tools, as well as twisting and bending as you work help build your body’s strength, stamina, and flexibility. The RHS and Coventry University studied how practices such as digging could be done to avoid the risk of injury and strain.
Regular gardening leads to a myriad of mental and physical benefits: stress-relief and boosted self-esteem, as well as an improvement in immunity, heart health and brain health — risk of stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s is reduced.
Gardening is a labour of love that can help you reap all sorts of benefits. Gardening allows us to grow our own produce. Summer is the height of the growing season: tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers thrive in the hot weather. Although most strawberries in supermarkets are imported, June is the perfect time of the year to eat locally grown ones, and if you grow your own you can even try out varieties that aren’t sold in shops.
But what should you plant in the summer? The key to having a plentiful harvest even in autumn and winter is to sow during the summer. Peas can be sown in late spring and early summer to enjoy for the rest of the hot season. Beetroots, carrots, and beans can be planted in mid-July, and kale and spinach in mid-August. July and August are a great time to sow fennel, radishes, and spring onions, as well as salad leaves and chard — whose leaves can be harvested ‘cut-and-come-again’ from August to October. The summer helps fruits and vegetables ripen quickly, so make sure to keep an eye out to avoid missing out on the best moment to harvest. But growing a garden isn’t just about planting, it also involves tending and giving your plants what they need. Here are some tips for your summer gardening:
- Look out for weeds: Weeding and thinning should be a top priority. Weeds can be tough competition and plants can’t thrive when crowded. If you keep at it, pulling weeds while it is cool outside, there will eventually be none left — making it easier to keep your garden tidy. To avoid hurting your knees, place a padded surface under them when kneeling.
- Make sure to water: It’s critical, especially when the heat is high. If it doesn’t rain much, you should make sure your plants get the amount of water they each need to thrive. Check the soil for dryness, and allow the water to soak through. Consider mulching as it keeps the moisture from evaporating too fast.
- If you keep potted plants: Especially terracotta pots are prone to overheating. Lightly mulch, and keep them if necessary out of direct sunlight. If the soil is dry and it doesn’t absorb water, soak the pot in a bucket of water for half an hour and drain it.
- Take care of yourself: Work outside during the cooler hours of the day, to protect your skin. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and eat a healthy diet to keep you active. Use this time to reconnect with nature and your body.
Gardening doesn’t have to be complicated! There is plenty of produce you can grow from scraps you probably already have at home, even without a garden.
- Regrowing lettuce from the stem is as simple as placing it in a shallow dish of water somewhere sunny. Make sure to change the water every 1 to 2 days, after 10–12 days it reaches its peak size (usually just enough for a sandwich!).
- Spring onions are just as simple. You can place their roots in either soil or water, with a little bit of stem still visible on the surface. You can snip the stems as you need, and they’ll regrow about four more times.
- To regrow leeks, you need to buy them with roots. Cut the stems and place the roots in a glass of water, the leek will have new growth.
- To regrow fresh herbs such as basil, place bundles of them in jars with 2 inches of water, and create a mini greenhouse for them by placing a plastic or Ziploc bag over them. Keep the jars in the fridge or a windowsill, and add more water as needed.
These are just a few examples, there are plenty of scraps you can experiment with and grow inside your own kitchen.
Starting the habit of growing my own vegetables
As someone who enjoys making a side salad for basically every meal I have (blame my Spanish upbringing), I get through large quantities of lettuce. I’ve decided to grow produce from scraps in my own kitchen, as a way to save money and connect more with the food I eat. To keep myself accountable and work towards turning gardening into a habit, I have decided to turn it into a challenge! For this, I will use FitQuid, as it allows me to create a specific challenge for this and personalise it in a way that works with my daily schedule. Additionally, FitQuid will help keep myself accountable and turn growing my own food into a habit.
I have gone ahead and clicked on the “+” icon at the top right corner of the challenges screen to start creating my challenge. I called my challenge “Regrowing from Scraps” and added a bit of a description so I should remind myself of the goal of my challenge. To record my progress, I have picked the timer & photo upload data points from the list.
I’m adding a timer, I want to spend at least 30 mins every day working on this. This is going to be very important initially while I am learning how to integrate this habit into my daily life. I might increase the duration or remove it entirely in my next challenge. I will continue to grow, and I will continue to tailor my challenges for that.
For my photo upload, I will snap a new picture of my vegetables every day. I am super excited about this because this way I can have an interesting time-lapse at the end of the challenge, and I can actually see the regrowth.
Done! I will post regular updates about my challenge here and on social media, so stay tuned! If you want to grow your own produce, I suggest you do the same! Create a new challenge on FitQuid, care for and attend to the plants, and measure their progress through pictures. Make sure you share your experiences and I will feature the best ones on my future blogs.