One of the many aspects I appreciate about living in Holland is the focus the country puts on nurturing your body and soul, and keeping well-being at the center of its public policy. From larger themes like reducing income disparity and promoting work-life balance, down to small programs like seeds Albert Heijn (largest grocery store chain in the Netherlands) gives out for free during springtime to encourage people to grow their own food, it is all too good to be true sometimes.
Several weeks ago, I stopped to pick up some groceries at Albert Heijn. At the checkout, I was given little cardboard containers carrying soil capsules and tiny paper bags with seeds. At first, I was overwhelmed; while, I had cared for plants before, I had never grown them from seeds.
I returned home excited to learn how I could grow these seeds into plants. All the instructions were inside the tiny cardboard containers. I dissolved the soil capsules, filled three quarters of of the containers with soil, spread the seeds, and then topped the remaining quarter of the container with soil. At the end of this, I was thrilled but also scared about this whole program being a gimmick.
In about a week of planting the seeds and watering them regularly, little leaves started sprouting — it was not a gimmick! I felt exhilarated to realize how easy it was to grow food in my little apartment. In just one more week, the leaves were big enough that they had to be transferred to 10cm pots.
Soon, I will be transferring the cherry tomato plant to an even bigger pot. I went to the flower market in the center of Amsterdam last week and bought a huge horizontal planter and seeds for five different types of herbs. I also bought some basic tools that can help build a balcony garden — yes that is what these little plant babies of my mine have aspired me to do.
With a full time job that keeps me on my toes during the week, it has been relieving to take some time out everyday to nurture these plants. It might sound cliche, but this project helped me ground myself, and become better at following a routine. For instance, every time I watered the plants, I remembered how often I ignore when I am thirsty. That helped me improve my water intake. Similarly, seeing the plants flourish under my care gave me a confidence boost.
If you find yourself in a personal or professional rut, and your self-confidence seems to be faltering, a small garden DIY project like this one could be a fun, cheap and low maintenance pick me up.
Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on how to start a kitchen/balcony garden with minimal time and effort.