When you’re working from home, it’s easy to find yourself still in your pyjamas at 5pm, having barely moved from your computer – let alone got any fresh air or exercise. But to stay healthy and productive it’s important to take regular screen breaks, move around and see daylight. Gardening is the perfect way to keep fit at home. Getting out into the garden, getting some fresh air and daylight, will boost your mood. And having practical tasks to focus on will help take your mind off Covid-19.
We’ve compiled a list of easy things to do while you’re at home, to help you make the most of those breaks from work. All the jobs below can be done now, without leaving the safety of your home and garden, and for some you don’t even need a garden. You can buy everything you need online. We’ve ordered them by the amount of time they take, so whether you’ve got time for a five-minute activity or are taking a 20-minute break, there’s plenty of ways to keep gardening during lockdown.
Buy plants online
Ordering plants online – pink lily flowers
You can buy plants, seeds, bulbs and other gardening kit online or by mail order, you can even get garden compost delivered. Have a quick browse and see what takes your fancy. Everything you need for the jobs below can be ordered online for delivery to your door. Why not treat yourself to some bulbs, so you can look forward to glorious flowers next year.
Start growing potatoes
Potatoes are the ultimate failsafe vegetable you can grow at home – and you can grow them in the ground or in a large sack. To get them off to the best start, it’s best to ‘chit’ them. Buy seed potatoes online, as they’ll be disease-free, rather than using potatoes that you’ve bought to eat. Then, when you’re taking a break from work, unpack them and pop them in an empty egg box, or other container, on a bright windowsill. You’ll soon see shoots emerging. If you want to harvest your potatoes in summer, they should be in the ground by the end of April. If you want to harvest your own potatoes for Christmas, then plant them into a bag somewhere sheltered by the end of August.
Water newly delivered plants
Watering newly delivered plants
You can buy garden plants online and by mail order. If you’ve had a delivery, it can be tempting to abandon work and spend the rest of the day potting up and planting out your new arrivals. But if you only have a few minutes to spare, make sure you unpack your plants as soon as you can, and sit them in a tray of water. That way they’ll be in good condition when you’re ready to give them your full attention.
How to grow on plug plants
Get an orchid to flower again
Pink moth orchid – getting an orchid to reflower
If you’re stuck indoors, flowers really lift your mood. Many of us have an orchid that’s finished flowering and is looking a bit sorry for itself. Cutting the stem back will encourage it to flower again, and is speedy enough to do in even the shortest screen break. If the stem is still green, cut it back to just above a visible joint (or node). If the stem has turned brown, remove it at the base.
Feed garden birds
Garden birds on a feeder
We may not currently be able to venture far, but wildlife can still come to us. Take a quick trip out into the garden to hang up a bird feeder and put out a shallow dish of water. Try to position them so you can see them from where you’re working at home, and the birds will provide entertainment when you’re back at your computer. You can buy bird food online, as well as feeders and bird baths.
Sow a pot of vegetable seeds
Freshly harvested carrots
There are lots of vegetables you can grow in pots, so even if you only have a balcony or a large windowsill, you can still grow vegetables at home. Sowing a few seeds in a pot takes just minutes, and you can look forward to delicious harvests.
Carrots are perfect for growing in pots – simply sprinkle the seeds across the top of a large container of damp compost, and cover with a thin layer of compost. Put the pot somewhere bright and keep the compost moist. Tomatoes, salad leaves, and spring onions are all easy to grow in pots too. See our guides to how to grow carrots, tomatoes and other veg in pots.
Grow sweet peas
Pink and purple sweet pea flowers
Now, more than ever, we need cheerful flowers and uplifting scents, and sweet peas deliver both. They’re easy to grow from seed, and you can sow a pot of seeds in a short work break. Simply fill a small pot or a few empty loo roll tubes with compost and pop your seeds in – three seeds to a pot, or two seeds per loo roll tube. Push the seeds about 0.5cm down into the compost. Pop them somewhere bright and keep the compost moist. You’ll soon have seedlings you can plant out in the garden. For more growing advice, including when to plant sweet peas:
Dusting houseplant leaves
Housework is the classic way to distract yourself when you’re working from home, but here’s a job that shouldn’t feel like such a chore. Dusting the leaves of your houseplants with a damp cloth may seem unnecessary, but it helps the plant photosynthesise effectively meaning they’ll be much healthier. Plants with broad leaves particularly benefit, and the simple, repetitive action is a great way to destress.
Divide a pot of supermarket herbs
Dividing supermarket herbs
Herbs are a great way to liven up store-cupboard meals. You may have a potted herb already, or be able to order one along with the rest of your supermarket shopping. If you can spare a few minutes to divide the herb, you can have several plants for the price of one. The extra space and fresh compost should also help the herbs live longer, giving you pickings for longer. Slide the herb out of its pot and gently tease the rootball apart with your fingers. You want several clumps of herb, each with a good chunk of roots attached. Put each clump into a fresh pot of compost and keep well watered.
More quick gardening jobs to do when working at home
- Check tree ties haven’t come loose over winter, and aren’t too tight
Deadhead roses and bedding plants for more flowers
- Cut back old fern leaves to make way for new growth
- Feed ericaceous shrubs, such as camellias and rhododendrons
- Plant strawberries in a pot
- Put up a bug box
- Check roses for aphids