It’s a good time to start something new if you are isolated. This series will give you the basics of hobbies and activities that can be started while spending more time at your home.
There is a long history of looking to one’s own garden or small farm when the weight of economic and political chaos becomes too much to bear.
The Town and Country Journal published a suggested ‘cottage Garden’ in 1891. Trove
Since 1892-1993, when the first depression hit Australia, people have called for to get back to gardening. This is both a practical response to possible food shortages and an emotional remedy that gives a feeling of being productive and in charge.
In the second half of the 19th century, urban food production grew rapidly. In the inner and outer suburbs, it was not uncommon to find a variety of vegetables being grown on small plots along with piggeries and dairies.
Local production at small scales was the easiest way to ensure that local communities had access to fresh food. As the recession deepened, people were encouraged to return to the land. New urban workers began to seek security, autonomy, and opportunities in semi-rural or rural self-sufficiency.
New landscape gardening
The move to grow your own food came out of a dire need for money, but also symbolised a turning away from modernity, bringing about social and spiritual renewal.
Self-provision, for early suffragists, was deeply political. In 1914, Ina Higgins and Vida Goldstein founded a women’s-only farm co-op in the suburbs of Melbourne. Food production during the First World War was both practical and necessary. It also provided social and economic freedom.
Ina Higgins, in the garden of Killenna. National Library of Australia
Small farming allowed women to break free from the constraints of home, factory and motherhood. They could reinterpret production in a way that was physically beneficial, morally uplifted and socially responsible. Women were able to control their own lives in a way they had never been able to before.
The hippies from the 1970s re-started the movement. The children of the postwar generation were drawn to activities like homesteading, food preservation, and practical upcycling.
They were also simple home-based tasks that fulfilled their desire to limit environmental impact and be responsible for resource usage. Growing food was more than just nostalgia. It reflected a distrust for commercialism, advertisements and advertising and a rejection of consumerism and labour outside the home.
In the 1970s, Nimbin became Australia’s self-sufficient capital. Harry Watson Smith/Flickr CC-BY
There is a resurgence of backyard and small plot food growing, bottling, canning and preserving.
It may not be possible to meet all your family’s needs for food, but picking, preserving, and cooking your own food can bring a sense of calm .
Read more: Anxiety and depression: why doctors are prescribing gardening rather than drugs
Tips for your own venture into veggie gardening
Observe & Interact
Consider the available space and resources. Are you going to grow your plants in pots, or will you plant them in the ground? Consider other options: Can you grow in a nature strip or balcony, or even on a friend’s or relative’s property (while maintaining social distance)?
Start small for those plants that are already in the ground. Remove as much grass and vegetation as possible from the garden bed. To improve the soil, add some mushroom compost or other quality compost.
No Dig Gardens are raised above the ground. Layers of organic material form the ideal growing environment for vegetables and herbs. They can be set up with very little money.
You can buy (or make) some raised garden boxes which will draw moisture from the reservoir that is built into each box. Raised beds are ideal for small plots, such as flowers and vegetables. Raised garden beds keep weeds out of your soil, they prevent soil compaction and provide good drainage. They also serve as a barrier for pests like slugs, snails, and slugs.
Gardening with planter boxes is a great way to keep your garden tidy and watered. Jonathan Hanna/Unsplash
Use a natural solution to any bug, disease or weed problem. Build up your soil. Use organic fertilizers, add organic matter to the soil, and side dress it with compost. Your vegetables will grow almost by themselves if you spend as much time building up your soil as you do on tending to the vegetables.
Check on your garden daily. Spending time in your garden, even for just 5 minutes each morning will help you to learn more about it.
Search for Community
There are a lot of Facebook groups and blogs. Websites, community organisations, and websites provide resources on basic vegetable gardening. Learn from others’ experience and find a group in your area suitable for your weather, soils, and conditions.
Local networks can tell you the best time to plant, how to create a garden for renters, and even share seeds!
A small balcony box is rewarding
What if you’re a few days late, or your spacing is off? You may have just planted one tomato plant. It’s not necessary to be perfect in order to grow a vegetable garden.