No garden? No excuses…

Therapeutic gardening with Sophie Lacey - Good Thymes Gardening

This month Sophie gets us all into gardening – even if we don’t have a garden

Earlier in the year, before the greenhouse was warm enough, Mr GTG was getting increasingly frustrated with the not-so-stealthy plant take-over in the dining room (a.k.a. his office). Granted these were mostly sown from seed in module trays ready to transfer when the time was right. However, you’re likely to find indoor flora on every windowsill or shelf in every room in the house – the jungle that is Good Thymes headquarters.

You don’t need a garden to garden

“I’m not a gardener, but I do love my houseplants”. Brace yourselves, but if you’re caring for indoor plants – you’re gardening! Plants are plants and tending to the needs of your potted plant babies is no different to watering, feeding and pruning your outdoor plants. Indoor plants improve air quality, liven up décor and are often low maintenance when it comes to care. For those looking for some indoor plant inspiration, not that I need any encouragement, the new Plants and Papers shop in Uplands has a vibrant variety of indoor plants to peruse.

Gardening comes in all shapes and sizes, if you’re harvesting herbs growing on your windowsill, you’re gardening. If you’re deadheading the spent blooms in the hanging basket on your balcony, you’re gardening. If you’re trying to feed the orchid you don’t dare move down from the shelf as it seems to like it there…you guessed it, you’re gardening too. Gardening is much more than a garden itself; you can reap the benefits of gardening without needing extensive land to transform into beds or kitchen gardens. Mindfulness can be practised with the aid of indoor plants or cut flowers, and arrangements of indoor plants (not unlike planning a planting scheme) can be a relaxing and creative form of interior decorating. As an advocate for purposeful gardening, let’s not forget edible indoor plants. Fruiting plants tend to need quite a few hours of daylight to produce and ripen fruit. If you can guarantee the sunlight, self-pollinating varieties would suit you well. However, you can grow salad leaves, spinach, radish, an array of herbs or even carrots if you plant in a deep enough container. Even wildflower seeds can be sown in containers and windowsill boxes as your very own pollinator-friendly mini-meadows.

Space doesn’t need to restrict you in gardening. The Room to Grow project is a local initiative showcasing the transformation of small, bare, concreted front yards in the city-centre into thriving vegetable patches. The installation of these mini allotment plots is aiding residents in growing healthy, nutritious and fresh produce right outside their front door in smaller unused spaces, attracting pollinators and increasing the amount of visible green spaces in the area.

Gardening for your wellbeing is accessible to all, enjoy the presence of plants and nature in your home and smaller outdoor spaces. Just remember, there is no such thing as ‘just one more’ plant.

GROW: SPINACH

SOW: Sow all year round into a seed tray and as they get bigger pot on to a larger size to ensure you’re giving it enough root space. Spinach plants like a bit of shade, so windowsills where there are a few hours of sun but not too much are ideal.

HARVEST: Harvest when there are at least 5 or so leaves on the plant and that the leaves are a good few inches in length.

STORE: As it doesn’t tend to last long in the fridge, having a fresh supply means you can pick what you want, when you want.

TIP: Keep them cool.

COOK: Mr GTGs Saag Paneer

  • 800g spinach
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 thumb ginger
  • 300g paneer (cubed)
  • 2 red chillies
  • 4 large tomatoes chopped
  • 1 large bunch coriander
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (tastes better if you toast the seeds whole and then grind)
  • 4-5 tsp madras curry powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 50ml ghee or peanut oil
  • 50 ml double cream

METHOD:

Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and blitz in blender with a little of the water.

Chop 1 onion into 6 segments, peel half of the garlic and the ginger. Combine all 3 with a bit of oil in a food processor and then blend until smooth. Slice 1 onion and crush the rest of the garlic. Set the ghee at medium heat in a large pan, add the mustard seeds and cinnamon stick. After 2 minutes add the sliced onion and fry until golden brown.

Remove the cinnamon stick and add the crushed garlic, red chillies, curry powder, turmeric, garam masala and the tomatoes (add a little oil if a bit dry at this stage) and season with salt and pepper. Fry for another 10 minutes before adding the puréed mix. Fry for another 5 minutes and add the spinach.

Cover the pan and turn onto lowest heat for about 20-30 minutes. While the saag is cooking, heat some oil in a pan to a medium heat and fry the paneer with a couple of pinches of curry powder and turmeric until slightly browned.

Add extra seasoning of curry powder or chillies (to your taste) to the saag, then add the paneer and coriander, stirring gently for 5 minutes. Finish by adding the cream and continuing to stir in for a few more minutes until well incorporated. Serve with rice, naan, yoghurt and mango chutney! If you want to see Mr GTG turn this recipe into a burger, follow @mrgtgcooks on Instagram.

Good Thymes Gardening – Wellbeing through Gardening

07964 182453 / www.goodthymesgardening.com / sophie@goodthymesgardening.com

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