Student Life

Why Gardening is an Excellent Quarantine Activity

Working with plants may be just what you need during the pandemic

By: Sarah Tyler

We are all stuck at home in some capacity. Whether we only leave our homes for groceries and physical exercise or have a job that has allowed employees back into the workplace, we still aren’t going freely about our lives like we were pre-pandemic. We have bottled up our stress about finances, work and school tasks, and caring extra for loved ones. The isolation has most likely impacted our mental health as well. Gardening is a fantastic activity to take up or revisit during this time because it allows you to find some peace in nature and physically distance yourself too.

Most notably, gardening is great for your mental health. If you’re able to garden outside you can enjoy the fresh air and get some vitamin D! It can be relaxing to feel the breeze as you tend to your plants.

Plants and Your Mental Health

I think the most significant benefit for me is the mindfulness practice I get while working with my flowers and other plants. You can focus on one thing at a time and physically move the different textured materials as you work. When my mind is running 100 miles a minute with to-do lists, putting my hands in the dirt seems to distract and calm my thoughts. Feeling the coolness and the dampness as I water my plants is a humbling experience.

Your plants will also be growing and changing; just like the world we live in, there are different changes every day. It can be an act of reflection to apply the growth mentality of gardening to our daily lives. Learning is a big part of gardening, and even the most experienced gardeners have to problem-solve as issues arise.

As we put in the effort to help our plants grow, a sense of responsibility is apparent. You want to keep your plants alive! Some people even name their plants and take the ultimate title of being a plant parent. You can read my thoughts on plant parenthood and the millennial drive to fill their spaces with living “plant babies” here. It gives some individuals a true sense of purpose to nurture their plants and check up on them each day or so. It’s satisfying to see a new leaf or a bud opening up with a beautiful flower after all your hard work. Having a little plant friend (or many plant friends!) to sit with is incredibly lovely. Although they don’t talk in conversation, they still are living beings!

Gardening is often an individualistic activity with little need for physical collaboration for day to day maintenance. It makes for a great quarantine activity because you can maintain physical distancing recommendations.

Growing Your Groceries

If you’re looking to further limit your contact with other people, you can eliminate an entire area of the grocery store from your typical route by growing your herbs, fruits, and vegetables at home. Many can be grown in containers on balconies, or directly inside your living space. My favourite herbs to grow can be found here, but there are also tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, potatoes, snap peas, and cucumbers growing in my family’s garden. If you’re limited to indoors-only, you can still manage to grow a few essentials!

While many grocery stores have small plant and garden sections, most garden centres have opened up now in Ontario. With the vast rows of plants, it’s relatively easy to social distance. The plant you’re looking for is probably on a long rack with many nearly-identical plants from which to choose. It’s not like at a grocery store when you only want the strawberry-flavoured Pocky, and there’s only one product spot of it amongst hundreds of other items on the shelf. I ended up visiting a garden centre last week for the first time since March. It was an easy shopping process. The proper protocols were in place, such as wearing masks, sanitizing, staying in specific lanes, and overall distancing from other staff and customers.

Finally, if you have little ones or even older children at home, you can garden together for a bonding and an educational opportunity. Learning the basics of gardening is not only fun but a life skill as well, especially as we turn to more sustainable solutions as a society.

I have found pleasure in tending to my plants over the past few months. Starting with my smallest succulents to my largest leafy tropicals inside, continuing with my favourite tiny alyssum to the large panicle hydrangeas, each plant has different care needs and beauty within it. Summer is a perfect time to find the motivation to add some plants into your life. If you’ve been thinking about it and need a push, then the time is now. Get growing!

Sarah Tyler is a public relations – corporate communications graduate student. She runs her blog, Well-Grown Home, and the accompanying Instagram account as part of her digital media classes at Seneca College. Sarah provides inspiration and helpful tips to make your living space vivacious. She focuses on beginner gardening and indoor plants.

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