While for many gardening is a hobby they have returned to, for many others it is a way to grow their own vegetables at home.

How gardening has emerged as a favourite pastime for many amidst lockdown
Features Gardening Thursday, April 09, 2020 - 17:26

Home gardening and growing greens has become one of the favourite pastimes for people stuck indoors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Several beginners are also looking to online platforms to learn the tricks of gardening.

Environmentalists say that it’s the right time for people to engage in gardening as many have time on their hands.

Kalpana Ramesh, an environmental expert from Hyderabad, says that innovation has become necessary to get food out of waste, which could reduce the burden on the city, so it’s the perfect time to engage in gardening and related activities if people are indoors.

Speaking about her home garden, Kalpana says, “For the last 15 days, everyday vegetable waste at my place went into growing microgreens. I’ve grown six types of microgreens with recycled water, enough for a family for a week. Whoever has a chance should start growing their own food and recycle water as much as possible.”

Several others have taken to sharing their skills online during the lockdown. They conduct live sessions on social media platforms on how to grow microgreens, chillies, garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum and others vegetables, advice about growing indoor plants and other gardening tips. Some of these sessions also have activities for kids so that parents can involve their children in growing plants at home.

Lazy Gardener, a Delhi-based ecommerce company that sells plant food sticks, has been conducting gardening classes on its YouTube channel every day at 4 pm since the lockdown began. The sessions range from how to water your plants correctly to how to repot indoor plants.

A doctor couple from Andhra Pradesh’s Kakinada, who are spending time tending to their terrace garden during the lockdown, say gardening has a calming influence on them.

“This lockdown has given us enough time to enhance our terrace garden. It keeps us occupied and is like meditation, it gives us immense peace. These days we are spending 7 to 9.30 in the morning for garden work, including watering. We use only kitchen waste as manure. The produce is enough for our family, we do not buy anything from outside,” says Dr Vikram Kumar, who does gardening along with his wife Dr Rama Devi.

A few others who could not pursue gardening because of their hectic work schedules say they have now resumed their passion.

Mamta Jain, a Chennai resident who started growing her own vegetables recently, says, “This lockdown has brought me back to gardening after a two-year break. We have set up plants in discarded plastics and they are arranged in such a way that they are self-watering.”

People are also initiating online challenges on Instagram, WhatsApp and other social media platforms inviting people to grow microgreens at home.

One such challenge, started by Secunderabad resident Deepa Shailender, is the #21daymethichallenge as a group activity for her Sainikpuri garden club. Soon several others took up the challenge and have started growing greens.

Stating that the methi (fenugreek) challenge was one of her first creative attempts on Instagram, Deepa says she is happy after hearing from friends that they also took up the challenge.

“Methi is one of the few herbs that grows really quickly. It is so gratifying to see the little saplings growing briskly. I look forward to this activity every morning after my prayers. It’s one ritual that I haven’t skipped a day since I started the project. I’m now trying my hand at growing coriander, garlic and ginger too,” she says.

Another Secunderabad resident, Manogna Reddy, who took up the challenge of growing microgreens, says that she is enjoying the activity, as the plants need very little care and maintenance.

Manogna says she is using growbag kits bought from the Horticulture department and has started growing the greens in them. Apart from this, she also uses tea cups, milk packets and used oil containers to grow the microgreens.

Meanwhile, people who have been enthusiastic gardeners from before continue to encourage others via their social media accounts to use the lockdown period to grow their own food.

Nidharshana, who runs Bartan Company, a waste reduction social enterprise in Hyderabad, has started a kitchen garden at her home. She says that one should use the lockdown as an opportunity to be self-sufficient and has been encouraging her friends to take up kitchen gardening during the time they spend indoors.

“Use this lockdown to discover the joy of growing your own foods and unveil the wonderful things that it will lead to. Let children also learn right from their formative years to form this connect with nature. This lockdown is a blessing in so many ways when it comes to gardening,” Nidarshana says.