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How Gardening Is Helping Me Get Through the Pandemic

Live better, garden more.

gardening

One of my earliest memories is sitting next to my mother beside our garden, her hands over mine, teaching me how to pull out weeds. It’s a simple task, and one seemingly tailor-made for little children who relish the chance to yank or pull on anything they can get their tiny hands into.

My mother has always had a garden: growing up as the daughter of Russian immigrants on a farm in Connecticut, they grew all sorts of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. She’s now 71, and continues to garden daily, even while under quarantine. Meanwhile, I’ve only recently rediscovered the meditative and deeply zen feelings that come from gardening.

For lots of us, this pandemic is a time of deep disconnect with ourselves and each other. Many people are reporting that they’ve felt even more exhausted from working and going to school online. We’re working, learning, and socializing through screens, giving daily life an unnerving sense of unreality.

Which is why now is the perfect time to get into gardening! There is nothing more real, more tangible than sticking your hands in the dirt and growing something lovely. And watching something sprout from a dry little seed to a curly green tendril to a full-blown plant is rewarding in a way that harvesting digital turnips on Animal Crossing just isn’t.

And here’s the thing no one tells you: gardening is not that hard. It just takes a little bit of work, a few times a week, to reap the benefits. If you’re craving something lovely to look at, try your hand at some impatiens. Or filter your air naturally with some hearty ferns. Personally, I love growing herbs and vegetables. The satisfaction of cooking with and eating the stuff I’ve grown makes me feel like a Little House on the Prairie character living off the land.

But what if you don’t have the space to garden? Not to worry! You can grow tomatoes and other veggies in a small pot on your balcony or stoop. No outdoor space? No problem! You can grow herbs on your kitchen counter via hydroponics, which use water and nutrients instead of dirt.

You can buy ready-made hydroponic kits, which come with starter seeds, or you can get DIY with it and craft your own hydroponic grower:

If you’re a gardening newbie, I’d recommend a simple seed starter kit, like this one:

herbs

(image: Home Depot)

Better yet, if you’re looking for starter plants, supplies, and gardening advice, find a nursery near you. Many of them are still open, and some are doing curbside pick-up. It’s a great way to learn about gardening while supporting a small local business.

Start small, and grow from there. If you’re unsure of where to start, there are countless gardening books, magazines, and YouTube videos to answer all your questions.

(image: Disney)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.