Blooming marvellous

As we reach the half-way point of 2020, it’s shaping up to be quite a year.

We’re all well aware of the ongoing pandemic and the economic impact it’s expected to have in the years to come, so let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s focus on one of the positive developments to come out of 2020 so far – a boom in growing vegetables at home.

I’ve dabbled in growing vegetables before, including successful tomato and chilli pepper plants on my balcony in London last summer. But this year, in the week before the UK went into lockdown, I was suddenly gripped by the urge to buy seeds, soil and pots.

Whether the need to grow vegetables was the result of panic buying at supermarkets, the reports of possible food shortages or simply the need to take control of something as the pandemic moved closer to home, I will never know. But those seeds that we planted back in March are now healthy-looking plants, and I couldn’t be happier.

The mighty broad bean

So, what is currently growing in those pots?

There are tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and a huge broad bean plant. There are also spring onions growing in a small patch of soil in a corner of the garden (living in a rented house means we’re limited to what we can plant in the ground), and the rocket has already grown and been eaten.

The jewel in the crown is definitely the broad bean plant and I now understand the inspiration behind the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk (for anyone not familiar, you can find an overview here). The plant just keeps on growing and producing mighty beans, as well as standing strong against wind and rain. Very impressive.

The rocket seeds were planted in a rectangular pot and were the first to sprout and grow. Within weeks we had fresh rocket to enjoy, which I swear tasted better than any shop-bought rocket. The only regret is that we didn’t plant more.

The tomato plant is doing incredibly well and is currently flowering, which means juicy tomatoes will soon start to form and we can watch them transform from green to red as the summer months roll on.

The potato plant has been another surprise. We used a cutting from a sprouting potato, and it has since grown tall and wide with pretty-looking leaves. Unfortunately, it has taken a battering from the wind and rain, but so far it’s surviving, and we should be able to harvest the potatoes in the coming weeks.

Finally, the pepper plant looks good and is growing, albeit slowly. Apart from that, there is not much else to report on the pepper, except that it seems to be loving the rain in recent days.

Needless to say, I’ve become a huge fan of gardening and growing vegetables, but there is more to it than just providing fresh, healthy food.

Benefits of growing vegetables

It has been well documented in recent years that gardening is a useful way to encourage mindfulness and connect with nature.

We all spend so much time on computers and looking at our phones, so gardening provides a much-needed contrast that many of us need, as well as an opportunity to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine.

There is just something so soothing about working with soil, planting seeds and watching them grow. Then there is the sense of achievement of harvesting fresh vegetables and turning them into a healthy meal. It’s a great way to boost wellbeing that can’t be matched by buying plastic-packaged supermarket produce.

From personal experience, the benefits that I have already gained from growing vegetables in the garden during a time of such uncertainty have been more than worth the initial investment in pots, soil and seeds. I only wish that the garden was our own and not rented (but that’s another story for another day).

For now, I look forward to harvesting more beans, sampling the potatoes and spring onions, and keeping a close eye on the tomato and pepper plants as they continue to grow.

Are you growing vegetables at home? Tell us about it.

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