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Try these gardening tips to help with mental health during the coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 18:58 06 April 2020

Sarah Manton-Roseblade, centre, with other gardeners on one of the Suffolk Mind allotments before lockdown Picture: SUFFOLK MIND

Sarah Manton-Roseblade, centre, with other gardeners on one of the Suffolk Mind allotments before lockdown Picture: SUFFOLK MIND

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A gardening expert at Suffolk Mind is urging people to get out in the garden, or grow produce on the window sill, to help their mental health during the coronavirus lockdown.

Gardening on one of Suffolk Mind's allotment projects before lockdown Picture: SUFFOLK MINDGardening on one of Suffolk Mind's allotment projects before lockdown Picture: SUFFOLK MIND

Sarah Manton-Roseblade is the manager of the charity’s GreenCare service, which runs four allotments across Suffolk, in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill.

The four sites, which enable people to learn about gardening and create a thriving community growing space, have been temporarily shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with neighbours keeping an eye on them.

However, while they are closed, people are being encouraged to get growing at home instead - to help them cope with all the current stress and uncertainty.

Sarah said: ““Being out in the garden or growing things in your own home is a great way to meet your physical and emotional needs.

Gardening on one of Suffolk Mind's allotment projects before lockdown. Picture: SUFFOLK MINDGardening on one of Suffolk Mind's allotment projects before lockdown. Picture: SUFFOLK MIND

“It enables you to achieve something new, gives you some meaning and purpose and gently increases your activity levels too.”

Sarah suggested some tips to help people discover their green fingers - some of which you can try even if you don’t have a garden.

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• It is nearly sunflower season – from May you can plant sunflower seeds directly in the ground where you want them to grow. If you don’t have a garden, from mid-April seeds can be planted in a pot and left by the windowsill. Keep them watered and as they start to grow make sure you use a stick to support them.

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• Grow your own veg – early spring is a great time for this. Easy vegetables to grow include lettuce, carrots, sugar snap peas and dwarf French beans, as they don’t take up too much space in the garden. You can also grow salad leaves and pea shoots in a pot on your windowsill.

• Grow herbs, which again will do well on the windowsill. Coriander and basil are great herbs to start with, when the weather is a little warmer.

• Plant flower seeds - Sarah suggested nasturtiums as being easy to grow, but you could also try a mixed pack of seeds, or choose wildflower seeds to create a mini-haven for bees and butterflies. Wildflower seeds do not need very good soil to do well.

• Children can grow cress on cotton wool as a first step in gardening.

• If you have a garden, you can take a few cuttings from plants like rosemary, put them in water and see what happens. Again, this is great for children.

• Encourage children to draw what they see when they are outside.

Sarah suggested visiting the Garden Organic and RHS website for more advice on growing your own produce.

Suffolk Mind have also put together a number of resources to help people with their mental health whilst at home.

Although the allotments are currently closed, Sarah will be growing crops including courgettes and pumpkins at home, so they can be planted on the sites when they reopen.

Suffolk Mind is also asking members of the public to grow herbs which can be transferred over to the sites. If you can help, email sarah.roseblade@suffolkmind.org.uk

MORE - Join our Suffolk Coronavirus Updates Facebook group here and sign up for our news alerts here.


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