Sourdough loaves, banana bread and Dalgona coffee are but a few of the edible boredom busters that might spring to mind when we reflect on this lockdown in years to come! But I’m sure you’ve seen and heard enough about them, so I’ll spare you the tales of my interesting attempts. Instead, I’m turning to gardening, because isolation really has turned me into a granny.…I’ll be knitting before you know it! I suppose this new hobby is also reminiscent of the ‘Dig for Victory’ posters that were part of the mosaic of community initiatives in the Second World War, encouraging people to grow their own fruit and veg and thus help feed both their families and the nation.
While the supermarket felons seem to be slightly more laid back than they were a few weeks ago with shelves no longer looking quite so forlorn, the initial sparsity of common produce inspired me to think about moving just one step towards self-sufficiency. If anything, watching my seedlings sprout is a way of finding purpose in these “strange and uncertain times”.
There is something inordinately satisfying about growing a plant from scratch and all the more pleasing when it’s edible! The day before lockdown hit, I visited our local gardening centre (let’s hope post-corona travel is a tad more interesting) and came home with many packets of seeds and a few baby plants – two tomatoes, one strawberry and two peppers. Three bags of compost, one cluttered greenhouse and some very muddy fingernails later, my plants were planted and were sitting proudly in the sun whilst I fretted for their welfare. Whilst I have multiple pets and have frequently looked after my baby neighbours, nothing came near the feeling of protectiveness and responsibility I had for these young vegetables. Now, three weeks later, I’m proud to report that they’re all thriving! My cucumber plants have yet to provide for my salads and I can’t say I’ve been gorging myself on home-grown strawberries but the beetroot grew big enough to be planted out a few days ago (a historic moment) and there are some promising looking tomato flowers. So, whether I’ll be enjoying the fruits of my labour before lockdown ends, who knows, but the planting and growing process has certainly provided a few hours entertainment so far and watering my runner beans is now just as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth at night.
I’m hoping to write up some recipes using the produce, when and if it materialises. Don’t hold your breath, but do get planting!