Lockdown gardeners see months of hard work bear fruit – and veg

When Kerry Frankland planted her vegetable garden during the first round of stay-at-home orders in March, she knew she was planning for the long-term.

The music and singing teacher was one of many Melburnians to rush to nurseries as coronavirus spread across the world.

Kerry Frankland in her vegetable garden, planted at the start of the pandemic.Credit:Penny Stephens

Months later, Ms Frankland's North Caulfield garden has made her almost self-sufficient. Now she's waiting for the moment she gets to share her efforts with friends.

“The veggie garden was definitely put in because of the possibility of coronavirus being a long-term issue,” she said.

“In the first lockdown we grabbed whatever we could get a hold of. It meant purchasing plants that didn’t look their best as they were all that was left on the shelves.

“So far we have harvested, cooked and eaten broccolini, cauliflower, and carrots. I have used the parsley in soups, pasta sauce and with our scrambled eggs and omelettes. The celery is nearly ready and I look forward to eating it with dips or adding it to our cooking and salads.”

Rachel Durrant in her garden in Craigieburn. She has grown succulents from cuttings she bought online.Credit:Luis Ascui

“I discovered succulents can basically save their own lives. It kind of reminded me of what we are doing here. We are grabbing onto our roots and trying to survive through lockdown. It kind of spoke to me.”

Nurseries closed to foot traffic are also noticing the gardening boom. Bulleen Art and Garden manager Alastair Cooper said orders were coming in thick and fast via the website and over the phone.

“It’s all absolutely pumping… We have never been so busy for deliveries. We are delivering plants if we can across the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and also garden supplies like mulch, sand, pine bark and those sorts of things.”

Online gardening store the Diggers Club has been keeping gardeners connected during lockdown through how-to videos and a Facebook forum for members to share their stories.

“We really want to make sure those beginner gardeners who have come to us in lockdown for the first time get what they need to succeed and keep gardening,” a Diggers spokesperson said.

“There are no down sides to gardening. It’s good for your health, your wellbeing, your hip pocket if you grow your own organic fruit and veg, your planet and your connection to the cycles of nature,” they said.

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