From Fouad Al-Shaikh’s garden.

By Chidi Emmanuel

As the coronavirus wreaks havoc across the globe, some residents in Kuwait are turning to gardening - to ease the boredom caused by the lockdown, and for others, to cut expenses as austerity measures begin to bite. Amid a scarcity and rise in the prices of fruits and vegetables, some residents are resorting to supplementary gardening to ease the burden. While some do it for fun, others see it as a way to augment what they have.

With the lockdowns and curfew, people are also looking for activities to occupy their free time. Parents too are turning to gardening as an outdoor activity to do with their children who are stuck at home after schools were shut. "Planting vegetables can be quite a revelation to a child," said Charles Edward, an African resident.

Gardeners without yards are even planting in trash bags, buckets and pots. For Charles, buckets and trash bags are enough for planting vegetables. "I'm not really bored - I keep myself busy watering my plants. It makes me happy. It is actually a form of exercise for me," he explained.

Educational for the kids
With so many digging into gardening for the first time, there has been a push to exchange ideas. "The fact that we can grow edible stuff in a limited space is gratifying; I was motivated when I saw a post by an acquaintance on a WhatsApp group about how he was growing various vegetables on his terrace in Riggae. Right now, we have some pots of capsicum, chili, lettuce and tomato.

It is not a classic garden - just a few pots in our small balcony," Indian oral surgeon Shaikhan Reshamwala told Kuwait Times. "Because of the small quantity, it is basically just the pleasure we get by looking at the plants. Also, it is fascinating and educative for the kids," Dr Shaikhan added.

Gardening may be a rare positive trend to emerge from the crippling pandemic. For Fouad Al-Shaikh, a photographer who has planted corn, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and mushrooms, it is something worth doing. "I used an empty spot at my workplace to do my gardening. Apart from the fun, the harvest is good and encouraging," he said.

Beautiful lessons
"With its many kinds of anxieties, COVID-19 has brought several beautiful lessons to the human race as well. One eye-opener happened during an online teaching session. In the midst of all the turbulences, my students and I were pondering over Emily Dickenson's 'There is Another Sky' and were trying to read beyond the lines.

Brilliant thoughts were exchanged virtually. And it was at this point that an idea struck my mind. Why do I need to worry so much about vegetables?" Rajeshwari Subbaraman, an Indian lecturer wondered as she narrated how she started planting vegetables.

"I cleaned up my gardening pots and picked up a dozen trays that had been sitting there staring at the blank wall. So far my balcony is now decorated with cilantro, mint, potatoes, chili, melons and tomatoes under the warm sunshine. It gives me immense joy as I sing my own tunes to them and see them grow and flourish day by day.

The sprouts are part of my diet and a saving grace to a core vegetarian like me who is eating homegrown organic vegetables. The testing time has taught me to connect more romantically with 'the green' and enjoy its beauty," she added excitedly.