Seeds of hope. The buzz of growing doesn’t always require a garden.

The only way I can obtain pure drinking water for now is to buy it in five litre containers or one litre bottles, depending on what is available locally every week.

Where I live has no garden. There’s one wild patch of weeds which is a haven for bees, but there isn’t enough soil underneath for growing food. At one side of the house there is some space where I put plastic bottles to good use, as you can see here:

Last year, after getting a delivery of compost, my container growing yielded carrots, endless varieties of lettuce, colourful flowers, and mizuna for munching. The carrots tasted bland but everything else was delicious.

Because there are plenty of trees around, birdsong is a constant here. All the winged creatures seem to have plenty to eat, but what about the two-legged ones?

Image: a honey bee and butterfly on flower heaads. Ragwort is a noxious weed and since I took this photo it has been cleared.

Herbs taste great, so I am hoping that some will grow this Summer. They have healing properties too; most pharmaceutical drugs derive from nature.

Quinine, which was used in the treatment of malaria for decades, is from the bark of the cinchona tree. Ephedrine (a decongestant used to alleviate the symptoms of asthma and hayfever) is plant-derived, and for extreme pain we have morphine thanks to opium extracted from unripe poppy seed pods.

Photo: David Bartus

As amazing as medicine is when we really need it, time spent in nature and around plants enhances health, so surely that is where we need to focus; prevention is better than cure. In Ireland we are lucky because green areas are never very far away, no matter where you live!

Art: Kathryn Crowley

Growing at home is great, whether it’s to produce lots of food or just a few plants. When things don’t turn out so well- which happens from time to time-every seed that makes it, every green shoot that peeks up through the soil, is still a miracle.

If you have no garden then a balcony, yard, or windowsill make it possible to plant seeds and watch life unfurl. It’s good for the soul to see such things.

This Spring, libraries around Ireland are giving away some free growing kits. Read more here:

If you intend on growing flowers out and about, don’t make the same mistake that I made a few years ago. In my ignorance I bought a ‘wildflower mix’ from Lidl, without realising that the flowers within would not do the bees or the Irish ecosystem any favours. When planting flower seeds in gardens, fields, or urban areas we need to choose native seed species that have evolved with our native insects. For more clarity on why this matters, and to avoid being confused by labelling, this article is worth a read: Happy growing!

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