Relephant read: Elephant’s Continually updated Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon
I’ve never thought of myself as someone with a green thumb.
But I could certainly see the appeal of growing herbs if my partner and I were limiting the time we spent outdoors. I figured we could use it as a means to survive self-quarantining as a response to the coronavirus chaos, as I’d seen recommended in The Guardian.
So, we gathered our window planter box, watering can, a bag of soil, and the packet of vegetable seeds we had bought some time ago, and set up the box on our screened patio where the seedlings can get a little sun and a little shade throughout the day.
I never would have guessed the immediate benefits of a simple little herb garden.
1. Joy in small things
You don’t need to get an expensive box kit or fancy equipment to get started with growing plants.
A well-constructed pot or box and an adequate amount of sun, soil, and water are the bare basics that you need to start planting seeds.
Intentionally channeling your time and energy toward nurturing something even as small as a sprouting plant supports self-care and well-being. Studies show that cultivating plants leads to a reduction in stress levels and helps to improve attention span and memory.
2. A Sense of connection to nature
The environmental destruction going on in the world can cause a great amount of anxiety and despair.
Watching my tiny seedlings sprout is an exciting moment that soothes me and helps me feel connected to nature. I’ve loved drinking lavender-chamomile tea since forever, for example, but one day I realized that I had no idea what the plants really looked like. How tall did they grow? What did their flowers look like? What did they smell like fresh?
It felt wrong that I didn’t know, which is what prompted me to read up on chamomile and lavender plants before getting some seeds to plant on my own. Growing them helps me to appreciate harvesting them and to be mindful of reducing waste.
Don’t overlook the impact that a small herb box can have on your mind and life.
3. Less screen time
There are many reasons for a digital detox.
Using a mobile device for long periods of time can cause a stiff neck or wrist if not seated properly. It can also cause eye strain. Let’s not forget the tendency to get easily distracted when a phone is in your hand. Notifications, random videos, scrolling, and obsessively reading the news can all become a massive time suck.
It’s wonderful to take a calm and relaxing moment to tend to some plants or vegetables under your care. It gets you moving and is a natural way to reduce anxiety while doing something simple and fun—a welcome change from being glued to a screen all day, if you asked me.
4. Problem-solving skills
My first attempts at growing some herbs at home began a few years ago when I was living in a condo.
All went well in the beginning, until one of my plants snapped—it had grown too tall and wasn’t supported well enough. Another plant succumbed to white fungus, while yet another succumbed to a vicious army of spider mites.
After much online research and reading, I learned what to look out for and how to avoid the same problems in future. This helped me realize that it doesn’t matter what the problem is or what category it’s in—focusing on finding a solution is much more positive than staying fixated on the issues.
When I occasionally reflect on some of my past regrets, staying focused on problem-solving helps me to strive to do better after learning from mistakes.
5. You reap what you sow
Self-reflection is one of my favorite things to do while taking care of my herbs.
Sometimes, I think about a bad thing that happened that day. A day ago, I was thinking about mean people (internet trolls, in particular) who have plenty of unkind and nasty things to spout.
Gardening helps me to contemplate on my own thoughts, words, and actions. It reminds me of the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” It often also brings to mind the following question: am I going to plant good thoughts, or mean and petty thoughts?
Either way, I’d have to watch them grow.
Right now, I’m waiting for the reward of watching healthy flowers and vegetables bloom. It’s a daily reminder that hope and kindness are choices we can make at any time, whether on a small or bigger scale.
Cultivating a humble herb box in your own backyard or kitchen window is just one way to constantly look on the brighter side of life— especially during trying and uncertain times.