A bloom­ing re­hab of a dif­fer­ent kind

Turn­ing de­pres­sion into ela­tion by fo­cus­ing on grow­ing beau­ti­ful plants and veg­gies from seed

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - SIBONISO MNGADI

BE­ING di­ag­nosed with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety can make one feel like it’s the end of the world, but for 21-year-old Nom­buso Mlambo, it’s helped her dis­cover her green fin­gers.

Mlambo found out about her gloomy di­ag­no­sis last year and her psy­chol­o­gist rec­om­mended that she find a hobby she could com­mit to do­ing reg­u­larly.

“I was go­ing through a rough spell and when I vis­ited the psy­chol­o­gist she ad­vised me to start some­thing that I would have to look af­ter. And the re­sult was my lit­tle ta­ble filled with pot plants,” she said.

She de­cided on pot plants be­cause she did not have ad­e­quate space to start a gar­den at her home on the Bluff, Dur­ban.

“My plants help me to take some time out from ev­ery­thing that is stress­ing me. You also feel some sense of ac­com­plish­ment when you watch a seed grow from just a small thing into a beau­ti­ful plant,” said Mlambo.

Al­though Mlambo only started grow­ing her own crops last year, the sec­ond-year psy­chol­ogy stu­dent at the Univer­sity of SA was in­tro­duced to farm­ing at a young age. Nom­buso Mlambo’s beau­ti­ful flow­ers.

“I re­mem­ber when we were still liv­ing in Bel­lair we had a huge veg­etable crop where I learnt a lot about seeds and grow­ing crops.”

She lauded her mother, Duduzile Mlambo, for her moral and fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Like most of her peers, Mlambo spends time on so­cial me­dia read­ing blogs and catch­ing up with her friends, but she has also been us­ing the plat­form to share gar­den­ing tips with peo­ple.

Her In­sta­gram ac­count was flooded with pic­tures of her thriv­ing pot plants. PIC­TURES: SIBONELO NG­COBO

“Every time I post on my blog or In­sta­gram a lot of my fol­low­ers re­spond pos­i­tively and ask if I do it all by my­self. I also want to change the per­cep­tion that gar­den­ing is only for old peo­ple,” she said.

Mlambo grew mostly herbs be­cause they don’t need a huge space. Among them is Provence French Laven­der and rose­mary, which she said added a re­fresh­ing taste to most meals.

Mlambo uses only or­ganic pot­ting mix be­cause it is fer­tile and re­tains mois­ture. She also keeps and ger­mi­nates orange and cit­rus seeds.

Her pot plant ta­ble is dec­o­rated with a va­ri­ety of flow­ers which she uses to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent farm­ing meth­ods and to keep in­sects away from her crops.

She mostly re­lies on the in­ter­net to get tips on how to take care of her plants and then passes on the knowl­edge by blog­ging about her ex­pe­ri­ences with dif­fer­ent seeds and plant­ing tech­niques.

“Some­times we think we need more ex­pe­ri­ence or big­ger space, while in fact you can do some­thing on your bal­cony. It is very ex­cit­ing when oth­ers post what they have man­aged to grow through the tips we share,” she said.

As part of merg­ing her stud­ies with her ex­pe­ri­ence Mlambo said she was also look­ing into how merg­ing the two could ben­e­fit those deal­ing with anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

“Plant­ing veg­eta­bles and herbs can also help you save money and you can use your kitchen to grow veg­eta­bles.”

She said once she had mas­tered back­yard farm­ing she would like to sup­ply her prod­ucts to lo­cal restau­rants and su­per­mar­kets.

Mlambo shares her flower and veg­etable grow­ing tips on her so­cial me­dia blogs and posts pic­tures on her In­sta­gram ac­count. She loves get­ting feed­back and learn­ing that she has helped oth­ers with her ad­vice.

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