Right now, the best thing we can do to help stop the alarming spread of the coronavirus is to stay home. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find pleasure in nature or help the environment.
Here, a behavioral science expert, botanist, environmental media expert, and entomologist suggest easy ways to connect with nature in your backyard (or on your balcony) while remaining safe in seclusion.
Entrance: Pass the time by playing any retro video game you want right now
Many of these activities can be done with materials found at home. If you don’t have plants, there are many nurseries and gardening suppliers who will deliver to your doorstep. Or go online to order plants, seeds, potting soil, gloves, and tools.
Finally, try swapping cuttings or sharing gardening tools with neighbors – respecting social distancing and other health guidelines, of course.
4. Be creative with containers
Melissa Hatty – Doctoral Researcher in Behavioral Sciences, Monash University
Gardening is great for your mental and physical health. And it can be done in just about any space, from growing alfalfa sprouts in cotton, to building an urban permaculture garden, and everything in between. If space is limited, many herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees can thrive in containers.
Container gardening is also an opportunity to express yourself. Art is useful for processing intense thoughts and emotions, while creativity has been linked to a more positive mood. And while we’re stuck at home, the creativity expressed through containers can also avoid the boredom and loneliness associated with prolonged isolation.
Try crashing into an old pair of shoes, jeans, or furniture. Ask your friends or neighbors if they have any old items that you can use to turn them into planters. And your upcycling will help the environment as well, turning waste into something useful.
3. The science of the backyard
Judith Friedlander – Environmental Media Researcher, University of Technology Sydney, and Founder of PlantingSeeds
If ever there was an opportunity to embrace citizen science, now is. Ordinary people, many of whom have more free time to work from home, can still add value to scientific data and repositories, learning all the time and connecting with a like-minded community.
And you can do it from your backyard, or even by looking out the window, sending data, images, audio files and more to the scientists who need it.
Try Birddata – BirdLife Australia’s web portal – which works to collaboratively and scientifically collect data from people to protect Australian birds. Users use an interactive map to identify their area and enter information about bird sightings and date of sighting.
Another is Questagame, a mobile game that allows players to engage, learn, and protect life on earth (while keeping your distance from others). Users can submit observations of animals, plants and fungi, or identify observations of other players.
You can find other citizen science programs here. Many, like Digivol, can be done from your computer if going out is not an option. Created by the Australian Museum and the ALA, Digivol is a crowdsourcing platform where users volunteer to transcribe data from natural history collections.
2. Make mulch
Greg Moore – Botanist, University of Melbourne
We hardly ever go looking for dead wood from the trees and shrubs in our gardens, but with many of us isolated at home, we might have time.
Deadwood involves removing all the small twigs and dead branches from your trees and shrubs. Your plants will look better and be healthier, and you will have eliminated the risk of this dead material causing damage in the next windstorm.
But the dead material you’ve removed is also great for being part of a good mulch. The best mulch is a mixed grain size – a mixture of fine and coarse material and everything in between. This is where your dead wood plays its part.
Thin twigs break down easily, while coarse material (up to 50 millimeters in diameter and 30 to 50 centimeters in length) such as large branches or parts of stems, allows air and water to enter when it rains. and lasts a few years.
Your mulch should be 75-100mm thick. And if you do it now, when you come and check your mulch a year from now, you’ll have a healthier garden when, as we hope, the current problems are all behind us.
1. Plant for winter pollinators
Tanya Latty – Entomologist, University of Sydney
Although we typically associate bees and other pollinators with summer, in warmer countries like Australia many types of insect pollinators are active throughout the winter months.
Now in the fall and while we’ve been making bunkers, it’s the best time to plant a garden for winter-active pollinators like hoverflies, bees, and (on the hottest days) stingless bees.
Pollinator-friendly flowers can enhance natural pest control by attracting beneficial predatory insects. Hoverflies, for example, are garden superheroes who have a double punch; adults are pollinators, while larvae are voracious predators of aphids.
Choose pollinator-friendly plants with different flowering times so that there is something blooming during the winter months.
Brassicas like broccoli, bok choi, and mustard greens produce flowers that are the favorite food of many pollinating insects – just let a part of your crop bloom. Salvias and basilisks are also good choices that will attract a variety of beneficial insects.
But don’t forget to plant native flowers like coastal rosemary, Hardenbergia violacea (“Happy Wanderer”), Wattles and Grevilia’s (especially “Honey Gem” and “Flamingo”) to support some of our toughest native insects.
This article originally appeared on The Conversation by Anthea batsakis. Read the original article here.