I firmly believe in each of us we have an instinctive affinity with nature. I classed myself as a hobbyist gardener for a few years, but it wasn’t until a very difficult period of poor mental health that I unearthed the true benefits of gardening and interacting with nature. I was introduced to the concept of mindfulness during private therapy, helping me to build a toolkit of techniques managing the chronic anxiety I suffer and, at the time, ante-natal depression.
It was summertime and we had just moved house, I often found myself pottering around outside, familiarising myself with our new garden. At first, I noticed the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety were kept at bay when I was in my garden, the heart palpitations in particular. Therapy had helped me understand the anxiety, where it stemmed from, what often triggered it but most importantly it helped me identify it when I was engulfed by a particular thought – “it’s okay, it’s the anxiety talking”. I had begun to realise that there were huge chunks of time when I was outside where
I had no anxious thoughts – it was just me and the garden. My whirring catastrophic thoughts, were replaced by sounds of the birds and the bees, and the feel of moist soil between my fingers and witnessing my little sanctuary come to life. I have no doubt the endorphins released through the physical exercise achieved through gardening also played a part in improving my overall wellbeing. I have since been driven to help the community and create an accessible platform for others to experience the benefits of social and therapeutic horticulture and, solidifying my passion for gardening through a Level 3 Practical Horticulture Royal Horticulture Society qualification due to be completed in the next month or so.
Good Thymes Gardening is a new, local wellbeing through gardening business, offering a variety of gardening services whether that is helping you to maintain your garden (planting, weeding, pruning, tidying), designing a space for your particular needs (physical limitations, sensory or therapy garden) or perhaps offering socialisation and coaching to help you grow your own produce, cut flowers or how to care for or create a sanctuary of your very own.
Edible gardening and growing your own produce are a personal passion of mine, I doubt the magic of growing something from seed will ever wear off and now that I have children I get to share the thrill of growing healthy, fresh nutritious food with them too (and eating it of course). As winter sets in those that have had a successful season are looking at storing produce to last through winter. The electric baby bottle steriliser has been an added perk to having a newborn, as I no longer have to sterilise pickling and jam jars in boiled water.
SOW: For spring cabbages sow July-August, for summer cabbages sow February-March (under cloches) or for winter cabbages sow April – May. You can sow in seed trays and transplant when there are a number of true leaves, or you could ensure you follow the spacing advice on the seed packets and plant directly in the bed they’ll grow in.
HARVEST: Squeeze the cabbage head, does it feel firm? Then it’s ready to harvest. Just cut the stem with a sharp knife to remove.
STORE: Don’t wash or remove outer leaves, they will be okay for a couple of weeks in the fridge if keeping fresh. Alternatively, try shredding and pickling! You can also place the full cabbage head in a root cellar (make sure they aren’t touching one another).
TIP: Crop rotation is really important for brassicas, it reduces the chance of building up pests or specific diseases.
BEWARE: Cabbage Whitefly!
- 1 red cabbage
- 250g water
- 250g apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
Make sure you have a sterilised jar large enough to fill with all the ingredients. Shred the cabbage and stuff into the jar, followed by the dry ingredients, then the water and vinegar. Store in the fridge for up to 1 month.