5 mindful gardening activities to help you switch off in February even if you're short on time
4 minute read
With the pressure of working from home, homeschooling and not being able to socialise on all of us until at least early March our gardens can provide a place to escape to for 5 minutes to find some headspace. Time in the garden helps you to connect with other living things and yourself in a world that is often moving so fast you barely have time to breathe let alone stop. These 5 mindful gardening activities will help you to slowly lift your foot off the accelerator and start to apply the brake as you find some calm and begin to switch off your busy mind.
Plant some raspberry canes- 20 minutes
A soft delicate fruit that tastes all the sweeter when you’ve grown them yourself. Plant some canes now to be eating your own berries come summer and into autumn.
They like a sunny spot and can be grown in a big container if you don’t have space in the ground.
As you dig the hole notice the feeling of the spade cutting through the soil. What does it sound like? Can you hear the soft ‘clink’ as it contacts with a stone in the soil? What muscles are you using in order to dig? Feel the energy in those muscles.
Use your spade to loosen the soil in the base and around the edges of the planting hole to allow the roots to spread more easily.
Add your new raspberry canes to the centre of the planting hole.
Use your spade to place the soil back in the hole surrounding the plant. Notice the feeling of the spade in your hands as you do so. Is it heavy? Is the surface of the grip cold? Is it smooth or rough?
Use the heel of your boot to compact the soil around the plant, creating a moat around the edge to keep the water close to the roots of the plant.
As you water the plant notice the sound of the water contacting the soil. What can you smell?
Feed your plants- 5 minutes
In the next couple of weeks your flowering plants such as roses will start the slow process of waking up from their winter slumber and producing flowers.
In order to do so they need a little help from you in the form of a top-dressing of fertiliser.
Take a handful of slow release fertiliser and allow it to fall through your fingers as you sprinkle it around your roses and other flowering plants. Notice the sensation of this. What does it feel like? Engage your sense of sight and notice where the fertiliser falls on the ground. Ensure it is evenly spread.
Plant some summer flowering bulbs- 20 minutes
Spring heralds the arrival of Tulips, Daffodils and Irises which are going to be so welcome this year. Although it's a little late to plant these bulbs now there are a selection of bulbs that flower in Summer that are a wonderful addition to the mindful garden and can be planted now.
Holding your summer bulbs in your hand gently turn them with your eyes closed. What can you hear? What do they feel like?
In southern parts of the country these bulbs can be planted outdoors in February but it might be a little cold for them in the north, some it's a good idea to plant them in pots and transfer them to the garden once the weather is warmer in April.
If planting outdoors in the ground follow the steps outlined in planting the raspberry canes.
Most bulbs like to be planted at two to three times their depth for example dig a 15cm deep hole for a bulb that is 5cm tall and spaced at twice their width.
But you can put them closer together if planting in a container.
Chit your early potatoes- 5 minutes
Super easy to grow and so much tastier than those you buy in the supermarket. If you don’t have space in the ground you can grow them in a big pot or I like to use empty compost bags. As the weather is still a little nippy outside you want to give you early varieties of potatoes a bit of a headstart before you plant them.
Look closely at each seed potato individually. Count the number of eyes (small dents) on each end of the potato. Place them into an egg carton to chit (sprout) with the end with the most eyes facing upwards towards the light. Place them somewhere light and frost free but not too warm. A cold spare bedroom windowsill is ideal.
Check them each day and notice the growth. The sprouts should be green or purple. If they are white and very long then they need more light and less heat.
Once you have shoots about 2.5/3cm long you can plant them out in the ground or in your container.
Mindfully prune your roses- 20 minutes
Pruning is the one thing that seems to scare most new gardeners. Firstly, don't panic, plants are designed to regrow. Ok you might not get great flowers for a year but in most cases the plant will regenerate. Secondly follow this really simple guide to get the maximum relaxation benefit out of pruning your roses.
A great way to remember when to prune your shrub roses is to do it around Valentines day. It seems illogical but sustainably grown British roses don’t flower before June. By pruning them now you are encouraging them to put lots of strong growth on so they can reward you with gorgeous flowers come the summer.
Engage your sense of sight to mindfully prune your shrub roses. Look for the damaged and diseased stems first and remove them. What can you hear as you cut through the stems?
Clean your secateurs with warm soapy water to remove any trace of disease.
Next look for any crossing stems and any stems in the centre of the plant and remove them to create a goblet shape.
Shorten all remaining stems to 30cm long.
If you’d like to see how it’s done and be able to ask questions then join my 30 minute Mindful Pruning Masterclass for more advice.