Nigel Freeman has worked in publishing and for a technology consultancy. Living in a city-centre flat, he always appreciates visiting his parents and seeing his father’s well-tended and much-loved garden.

Getting in touch with God’s creation

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:8

Anyone who lives near a noisy road, train line or flightpath will tell you how still and quiet everything suddenly seems as people are now staying in their homes. It is as if the natural world around us is being allowed to rest and breathe.

A wonderful way to connect with this sense of quiet and peacefulness is to get gardening! Of course, not everyone is blessed with their own outdoor space, but there are ways for all of us to engage.

Growing flowers and herbs or fruit and vegetables over the coming weeks will be a wonderful, soothing way of marking the progress of time and drawing close to God’s creation when our access to His wider world is so limited.

…and if you have kids, then this could form a wonderfully practical part of any home-schooling routine!

Grow plants to eat

Carrots, spinach and potatoes, all can readily be grown indoors in pots with some soil – small bags of soil and sets of seeds can all be easily ordered online and there are multiple resources on the internet.

But for a quick and cheap win with kids, why not try growing some cress…

A quick win: Common Cress

Common Cress can be added to salads and sandwiches and is incredibly easy to grow – it doesn’t even need soil! It also needs very little attention apart from ensuring the tiny plants are kept moist at all times, meaning it is not an added burden when we are all shut in.

Cress is packed full of vitamin C, Vitamin K and antioxidants, making it an excellent addition to a family and child’s diet – and kids are always more likely to eat greens if they have grown them themselves!

  1. Simply line a tray with wet tissue or kitchen towel.
  2. Evenly sprinkle the cress seeds over the base.
  3. Press the seeds into the tissue.
  4. Cover the tray with cling film (this can stay on until leaves begin to reach it).
  5. Place the tray on a warm windowsill where it can access full light.
  6. The seeds will usually germinate within 24-36 hours.
  7. Keep the tissue moist by using a water spray or sprinkling with your fingers.
  8. Watch the cress shoots grow for 5-7 days until they are 3-5cm high.
  9. Harvest using household scissors to snip off the shoots.

Add to salads, sprinkle on pasta dishes, or make a classic cress sandwich! 

Grow flowers to admire

Late spring and early summer can be the most beautiful time to be in a garden or to be enjoying indoor grown plants. The range of colours and textures is truly inspiring and reflects the grace and beauty of their, and our, Creator.

Three suggestions of flowers to get you going are marigolds, cornflowers, sweet peas and nasturtiums.           

Marigolds

Bold and bright, marigolds blossom yellow, orange and red. These flowers can often bloom within just 8 weeks of sowing. For the best results, plant them in full sun and well-draining soil.

Cornflowers

These beautiful, quick-growing, blue flowers add real vibrancy and colour. Bees also love cornflowers so you will be helping out the ecosystem too!

Sweet pea

Another of the best quick-growing flowers is the sweet pea and there is still time to plant in March! This flower emits a delightful fragrance, lovely for your outside space this summer. When growing this flower, remember it prefers cooler places so try not to leave in direct sunlight.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums attract bees and other pollinators and, if you are growing vegetable, are useful for interplanting with cucumbers and tomatoes to deter pests. And nasturtium leaves are also…. edible! Their flowers contain an abundance of vitamin C and other nutrients and make dish look delectable.

Other ideas to get going with

  1. Grow sunflowers on a balcony or in a garden – these beautiful flowers are easy to grow and are sure to lift your spirits over the coming months. If there are kids around, why not plant one for each child and see how long it takes for them to grow taller than they are – and seeing as a sunflower can grow 6ft in just 3 months, it may be sooner than they would think!
  2. Turn an old sandpit into a ready-made raised vegetable patch – means no waiting for work to be done to create the perfect space and may get kids interested in what’s happening!
  3. Order a bird-feeder and put it on or near a window – make a note of which birds arrive and keep a record of what times they come. Put out a variety of food types – do different birds take different sorts of food?