Attending to the basis of why I turned to gardening through the pandemic


Karla Sinclair shares how the pandemic brought her back to her roots and blossomed into a new hobby – gardening.

“A little dirt has never harmed anyone” – a sentence that I have found more and more appropriate over the past 15 months.

The coronavirus pandemic has spawned a new generation of gardening enthusiasts, myself included, as we faced little things that distracted us from using the outdoors.

The polytunnel.

I’m 20 now – soon to be 21 – and grew up in the Aberdeenshire countryside with my family for 16 years.

I was surrounded by forests, fields, and little else to do but make my own fun, whether it be biking, paddling in nearby streams, or trying to build caves and tree houses with just a few logs and some string.

I have so many fond memories of my childhood, but when I was 16 I moved to the “big city” – aka Aberdeen.

new chapter

I had reached a new phase in my life where I loved walking to a number of stores and being close to transport links, which gave me endless options in where to venture.

It was a big change from my childhood home where for those who couldn’t drive (which I was part of at the time) you had to walk about 90 minutes to get to the nearest store.

Union Street, Aberdeen.

This became the “new norm” for me and I adapted to city life relatively quickly. But when the news of the pandemic came and Scotland was locked down, I decided that it would be best for me to go back to the outskirts and start living with my family again.

Back to the country

I could tell you that I was hesitant about moving home, but that would be a lie.

I once again welcomed home cooked dinners daily – something I considered a luxury when living alone – with a lot more space and the ability to see my family and closest friends more regularly (while respecting coronavirus restrictions, of course).

The plants are watered daily.

And because of the high temperatures we experienced in Scotland last summer, I wanted to spend more time outdoors. I am sure a lot of people would agree.

Given that my father had a polytunnel installed in our garden a few years ago, I thought it was the right time to develop my green thumb.

Sometimes you don’t realize what’s in front of you, and I’ve been a victim of it for some time when it comes to the tunnel.

The polytunnel

The tunnel is 12 feet wide by 25 feet long, so there’s plenty of room to grow an array of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

My family and I have experimented by growing a few different items from the past year, but also sticking to some firm favorites.

Tomato plants.

These include potatoes, lettuce, cucumber apples (a type of cucumber grown in New Zealand that resembles a green apple), spring onions, parsnips, red onion chilli, mint, basil, rosemary and thyme, all of which were planted in March.

Strawberry and blueberry plants are also included in the mix, but do not need to be replanted annually. And our tomatoes were planted in January.

After being monitored and watered daily, we have seen flowers on almost every plant to date. You feel proud when you see everything take shape, no matter how long it takes.

We all look forward to doing everything when the time comes. Another major benefit of growing your own is the taste, which you cannot beat.

Mental health and wellbeing

I’m sure I’m speaking for many when I say the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on our mental health.

Shops had to close – including sports venues, our workplaces, dining options, and more – and we had no choice but to adapt to the new normal of being limited to our homes.

At first I really believed that I would be back to work within a few weeks. But it quickly turned out that we were all involved in the long run.

Strawberry plants.

I was incredibly lucky to have my family by my side during the pandemic, but especially during the various lockdowns when no one outside of his household was allowed to catch up with friends and loved ones.

The first lockdown was when the polytunnel came into play, and I learned all about growing my own produce at home. It is certainly a learning process, but if I can, anyone can.

For a while I thought it was a pure panic hobby, but over time I started to enjoy putting on my gloves.

The polytunnel is 12 meters wide and 25 meters long.

It enabled me to escape, improved my mood, and eased my worries during an incredibly difficult time for people around the world.

I might be lucky enough to have a place like a polytunnel, but all you need is a windowsill for some plants.

Gardening was never something I could imagine, especially at this age, but here we are – and I’m grateful for that.

I look forward to sharing my next steps in my gardening journey with you soon.

Further information on self-cultivation …

Home Harvest: Growing our own produce is rooted during the pandemic