8 June 2020

How I have improved my garden and wellbeing during lockdown

By Tim Gill, QI Programme Manager

In recent years I’ve been trying to make the most of my garden, aiming for a pleasant place to relax and some extra benefits of home grown produce! This photo was taken in June 2018 and it seems I had some potatoes in progress and what looks like young courgette plants in the trough.  

June 2018

This year has been different for all of us in so many ways, and in mid-March when it became clear we were going to be spending a lot more time at home I had an even greater urge to fully utilise my outdoor space. I couldn’t grow toilet paper, but I could build on my learning from previous years and experiment with growing a wider range of fruit and veg! 

After some tidying and space creation my next step was to purchase a slightly larger plastic greenhouse. I’ve learnt that the extra protection and warmth this gives the plants within gives them the turbo charge our climate just can’t offer. 

So what am I growing in 2020?  

  • Tomatoes, grown fairly successfully in 2019 I kept seeds from some and this year planted in the greenhouse. Between March and May 40 seeds had become 40 plants which I’ve struggled to find space in the ground for. I’ve now got around 20 planted out and have given the rest to neighbours 
  • Runner beans, previously I have grown these by my backdoor with limited success. This year I’ve moved them to a spot close by that gives them full sun most of the day (who knew plants needed that?!). So far they are flowering well so I expect to be well beaned. 
  • Potatoes, just an all-time favourite and very easy to grow. This year I have tried to use more vertical space by growing some in sacks.  
  • Broccoli, is new experiment with the purple sprouting type. I sowed about 20 seeds in March, now have around 20 plants, some of which I’ll need to give away, as on further reading they also take up quite a bit of space. Frustratingly they will take until early 2021 to be at their peak, good things come to those who wait! 
  • Courgettes and squash, I’ve grown these similar plants in previous years but thanks to the greenhouse many more survived slugs and became ready for planting. I’ve got around 10 plants in the ground now, some flowering and courgettes on the way. I’ve had to use a tiny piece of front garden to accommodate some as they need space to spread out. 

Alongside all this I’ve also planted beetroot, basil, chives, garlic, mint, raspberries and a blackcurrant plant. You can see how things are going/growing in the picture gallery below. 

I’ve enjoyed spending a lot more time in the garden than usual, and I’ve noticed so much more than I normally would have. Paying daily, sometimes hourly attention to how things are growing, but also to what is visiting the garden. I put up a bird feeder, which after several weeks of waiting, is now being visited. I also bought some lavender and fuchsia plants which have added more flowers to the garden to attract bees and other pollinating insects.  

I’m lucky to have this little space and have become a greater enthusiast for nature and gardening over the last few months. I definitely think it’s benefited my physical and mental wellbeing too. In fact I feel my experiences here closely align to the 5 Ways to Mental Wellbeing, which are Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Learn and Give.  

recognise I’ve connected more with others who have similar interests. I have kept active maintaining the garden. I’ve noticed the changing seasons, growth of plants and the creatures that visit. I’ve learnt from previous years’ experience and have in effect used a PDSA (Plan Do Study Act) approach to planning what I wanted to do, tested growing under different conditions and adapted based on the results I’ve studied. I’ve also been able to give plants away to others, given greater variation of species to insects and birds, and hopefully will soon be giving away lots of surplus vegetables too! 

June 2020


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