Kala Paul-Worika
Kala Paul-Worika

Kala Paul–Worika discovers a 'new love' for gardening during the 'new normal'

This time last year, my garden was just an outdoor space given a tidy once or twice a year for the annual family bbq.

In fact, it’s always been a running joke amongst my siblings that no plant could stay alive if left in my care.

But recent lockdown times forced a change and I’m glad to say I have seen the light!

With two children to keep occupied when lockdown was announced in March, a desperate mum (that’s me!) took to a weed-filled garden with a pair of shears, a trimmer and washing up gloves - yep, I didn’t even own a pair of gardening gloves at this point.

Gardening in washing up gloves
Gardening in washing up gloves!

Once the weeds were gone and the space looked presentable, it was safe for my toddler to run around in, but I knew that wouldn’t keep my tweenager occupied for long.

Just like thousands of others across the country I thought growing a few plants would be a great way to wile away the time for all three of us.

It was then that I was introduced to the social aspect of gardening, as each and every one of our plants have been seedlingsthat have been sourced via my local Facebook group.

From strawberries to tomato plants, chilli peppers and runner beans, they’ve either been kindly gifted, or handed over for a charity donation during our daily lockdown walks.

My favourite day saw us taking a stroll to pick up some free tomato seedlings, only to bump into some ladies who added a Spanish thyme plant - and some hot cross buns - to our haul.

And I know I’m not the only person who’s loved having gardening as a distraction during this Coronavirus season.

During peak lockdown, evenings on my road saw gardens come alive as neighbours came out to tend to their plants, crossing paths with those enjoying the tail end of a bbq session.

It’s also been a welcome distraction and topic of conversation - something else to chat about other than the hell that is home schooling and/or attempting to work from home with kids who have been cooped indoors for hours.

I’ve found myself sharing tips with friends and family, as I looked for my next green-fingered challenge.

It's even been a reason to drag ourselves outdoors on those days when let’s face it, putting on clean clothes felt like a major effort.

The thought of plants dying and never bearing fruit was enough to keep us armed with watering cans filled to the brim.

Excitement levels are always at a peak when we see our plants start to show signs of bearing fruit - eating our first homegrown strawberries was like dining on a foreign delicacy!

I’ve loved the way my son likes to take ownership of a plant and put himself in charge of tending to its needs - even if it does mean it suffers a slight overwatering!

And it was great to hear my daughter’s words of encouragement when I thought our tomato growing days were numbered during the early stages. She continued to keep them watered, even when I reckoned a particularly hot set of days had killed them off. Her smug ‘I told you so’ came quickly once tiny green tomatoes started to appear.

And once life returns to ‘normal’ I’d like to think my love of gardening will continue. I’m currently researching how to grow garlic in pots and have plans for a bumper strawberry harvest next year. Fingers crossed!

Tomatoes in hand
Homegrown tomatoes
Pepper plant
Patiently waiting for the fruits