Self-Care Tips From A Pro Gardener
5 minutes read
The sun is shining; daffodils are out in their full yellow force and Spring has finally sprung – along with our interest in all things green-fingered. You can blame our post-pandemic selves, where any outside space was a precious commodity during Covid-ravaged times and for some it has now become a priority. So much so, demand for allotment places are on the rise, with one plot stacking up a whopping 300% increase in applications and the interest in gardening is growing massively year on year. It appears we are looking for a bit of The Good Life.
We all know the benefits of getting back to nature. The charity Mind states:
“Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit your mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals can have many positive effects.”
But, exactly how do newbie gardeners get started? How do you nurture both the seeds and shoots and yourself? Firstly, head to a bookstore to unearth ‘Grow Easy‘ by Anna Greenland; it’s an all-you-need guide to starting your first grow your own – even if you have a small space.
Try Greenland’s 30 top crop choices of vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruit, perfect for small spaces. Plant ‘spotlights’ give in-depth advice on how to grow each crop in a pot, in the ground or on a windowsill, plus Anna shares her trusted recipes to make the most of the harvest.
Next stop? How to protect your hands, nails and face from the elements? We all know that gardening can take a toll on your skin – so we talk to the author and green-fingered Greenland on all things gardening – from how she protects herself from digging in the soil to avoiding the sun.
Anna Greenland’s guide – from self-care to plant care
Firstly, how do novices get started? What’s the one piece of advice to get you going?
“Make compost! Whether this is on a larger scale in a compost heap, or in a worm bin (wormery) or bokashi bin in urban or small gardens (lots of compost info in my book). It is a deeply rewarding process that results in something full of life and nourishment to add to your soil or pots. Also, if you are growing in pots, make sure you buy peat-free, organic multi-purpose compost. I love a brand called Dalefoot based in the Lake District. This will help to grow you healthy plants.”
“Also, growing organically is non-negotiable to me. The health of the soil is directly linked to our health as humans. Healthy organic soil that has not been sprayed with chemicals grows nutrient-dense, vibrant plants that nourish us from the inside out.”
Do you need to practise safe soil?
“You’re unlikely to catch anything from healthy soil! It’s best to stay updated with your tetanus jab and cover any cuts, but otherwise, I have bare hands in the soil. A specific soil bacteria has been linked to serotonin production, which explains why gardening is so good for our mental health. That’s why I generally don’t wear gloves. I would only do this in soil I know is free of chemicals.”
How do you protect yourself?
“Gardening can dry out your hands, so I make my calendula balm with coconut oil and home grow Calendula petals! It’s very easy to do – the recipe is in my book Grow Easy – and I know it is completely natural. Calendula is wonderfully healing as a skin herb and helps with any grazes, scrapes, bruises or dryness.”
Try this: Looking for something ultra-soothing that forms a healing, moisturising glove around over-worked hands? Then try the Hand Treatment Cream with shea butter to restore garden-ravaged fingers and nails.
The best way to cleanse your hands thoroughly?
“I use natural Weleda Soaps and a natural bristle nail brush and keep my nails neat and not too long, so they don’t get too dirty. I also sometimes make my own sugar hand scrub with honey which is wonderful for skin with great antibacterial properties. It’s sugar, honey, mineral salts, essential oils, and olive oil. It leaves my skin super soft and lastly a soak in magnesium salts and bath oils – not only incredibly relaxing but soaks away any impurities engrained in hands and nails.”
What are your favourite gloves for hand protection?
“I like a brand called Showa. They are super practical, breathable and can be machine washed.”
What are your sun protection tactics?
“Wear sunscreen, kids! And a hat. My mum always used to say this to me, and I took no notice for many years. However, I have olive skin and get tanned easily, making me quite reckless in the sun. I am cautious now, but I wish I had stared younger. I use both SPF 50 on my face and body now. Also, some good sunglasses are essential, and I have a big wide-brimmed straw hat a friend gave me when I was living in California in 2010. It is still going strong.”
Try this: Super-efficient SPF 50 protection that is also sweat-resistant – so when the digging gets tough – you’re still amply covered from damaging rays. UV PLUS Anti-Pollution.
Inspired? Check out the RHS and get involved with National Gardening Week, which runs to 2-8 May. It’s theme for 2022 is sharing the joy of gardening and the RHS is calling on people to share images on their social media channels that capture their love of gardening, using the hashtag #nationalgardeningweek to encourage other people to grow plants and garden.
Grow Easy: Organic crops for pots and small plots by Anna Greenland – is available to buy here