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Over the course of the pandemic, interest in gardening has surged as people look for new ways to get outside to nature while being stuck at home.
As residents in Sydney entered into their precious days of spring and the 11th week of lockdown, old green thumbs and novices talked about the important role gardening has played during the pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.
Wendy Stanford who lives in the Greater Sydney region is just one of the thousands of Australians who have taken to their gardens in new ways during the pandemic.
She told the news agency that during the most recent Sydney lockdown, gardening has become an important part of her life and has given her and her partner something to focus on each day.
"When lockdowns first started, we planted some purple bulbs. We have enjoyed watching them grow every day. Now with spring here we get to see them bloom."
When the local nurseries have been closed, Stanford said she had to adapt by using more local seeds.
"Because we haven't been able to buy new seeds, we have been walking around and finding native trees that drop their seeds, and then experimenting with growing them into plants."
As gardening supply stores have shut down due to health restrictions, Sydneysiders have to come up with new ways to source their seeds.
Sandy, a representative from Happy Valley Seeds, said the seed companies' recent uptick in online sales has been twofold.
"We have seen an uptick at the start of each lockdown. On top of this, all-seed sellers across Australia have increased interest in Spring," he told Xinhua.
Diana Barnes, who runs a website and podcast called Growing Vegetables Down Under, said the benefits of gardening and its role in people's lives have grown especially during the pandemic.
She said during a time when supply chains are stretched, and visiting a supermarket could pose a health risk, gardening has provided an alternative source of fresh food, she said.
"People who were stockpiling seeds were worried we may be cut off from food sources. People also saw a benefit in becoming self-sufficient in some areas," Barnes said.
In her own work, she had noticed an increase in followers asking for guidance for growing edible plants, and a number of seed supply companies have struggled to keep up with the increased demand for seeds.
Besides food security, Barnes thought getting into gardening and doing something in nature will help people maintain good mental health and draw them away from devices.
"It takes you outdoors in the sun and fresh air and this also improves your mood and outlook. It is a great education to pass on to children and everyone is keen to get them outdoors to play in the dirt."
Barnes said anyone can start gardening even if they don't have a backyard. "You can garden anywhere. You just need to adapt to your circumstances." Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
She said the pandemic had shifted people's priorities. For many people, it has been the first time they have had enough free time to get down into the soil.
"People's lives slowed down as we were told to stay home and so those who have always wanted to start a garden, actually had the time to do it," said Barnes.
In a time where the days can meld into one another and the plodding of routine becomes particularly stark, being able to nurture something can counteract these negative emotions.
"When you plant a seed, tend it, see it sprout, watch it grow, see it start to form the vegetable you eat, you receive a great sense of accomplishment," said Barnes.
Barnes said anyone can start gardening even if they don't have a backyard. "You can garden anywhere. You just need to adapt to your circumstances."
"If you are in an apartment with no balcony, focus on growing leafy crops at the window hydroponically or in small pots with drainage. Leaves like lettuce and baby spinach have shallow roots and can live in small pots."
Gardening takes practice and patience, and there has been no better time to take it up than during a lockdown.
If you don't have any luck the first time, as it occurred to Barnes -- "Just sow more seeds next spring."
(Article originally published at IANSlife) IANS/SS
Keywords: Australia, gardening, lockdown, plants
High drama was witnessed in Kanpur Dehat for over an hour when a man, upset over his wife's alleged affair with a local man, climbed the tower with his children and threatened to commit suicide. The incident took place on Monday near Gandhi Nagar in Akbarpur, when the man threatened to commit suicide after throwing his kids down from a height of nearly 40-feet. Chaos prevailed around the area and the locals informed the police that rushed to the spot.
After about half-an-hour of convincing, the police managed to bring him and his children down. The man told the police that his wife's affair was going on with his neighbor. He had complained to the police, but no action was taken. Police said that as per the man, his wife had developed an illicit relationship with a man, living nearby their house. "As per the man, in his absence, his neighbor visited his house often. He said that he had reprimanded his neighbor many times, but to no avail," said the police.
The man had complained to the police, but no action was taken. | Pixabay
The man had also lodged a complaint with the police but no action was taken. On the other hand, Akbarpur police said that on the basis of the complaint, action for breach of peace has been taken against the neighbor accused of luring his wife. Circle officer (CO) Akbarpur Arun Kumar said that the police are trying to sort out the issue. "Whatever action is appropriate will be taken," the official added. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, man, wife, alleged, affair, children, India, police, neighbor, complaint, suicide, accuse, drama.)
The US forces continued their bombardment of buildings and institutions in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province, as part of their alleged manhunt of Islamic State (IS) fugitives, state news agency SANA reported. The US forces are shelling buildings and public institutions on Tuesday in the vicinity of the Sina'a prison in the Gweiran neighborhood in Hasakah "on the pretext of hunting down IS militants who fled the prison," said SANA.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has slammed the US airstrikes as civilian casualties have been reported. | Wikimedia Commons
The shelling came in tandem with waves of raids by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to homes in the surrounding areas, rounding up many civilians and taking them to unknown locations, the state news agency added. On January 20, IS inmates inside the Sina'a prison, which is controlled by the SDF, started a riot that was coordinated with IS militants from outside, who detonated the prison's gates with two booby-trapped vehicles, succeeding to free some prisoners.
The incident triggered clashes between IS and the SDF as well as US airstrikes on the areas, where the IS fugitives could have sought shelter in, Xinhua news agency reported. The clashes and airstrikes are still ongoing as the SDF has so far failed to contain the situation and storm the prison. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has slammed the US airstrikes as civilian casualties have been reported. Hasakah province is largely controlled by the US-backed SDF, while certain areas, particularly in the city of Qamishli, are still under the control of the Syrian government. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: US forces, shelling, bombarding, syria, islamic state, civilian casualties, qamishli, tandem, syrian democratic forces)
The circulating avian influenza outbreaks, including in India, do not seem to pose the 'high' risk but surveillance and biosecurity measures are necessary to reduce spillover risk between poultry and wild birds, a UN-backed scientific task force said. Throughout the past autumn and current winter in the northern hemisphere, multiple avian influenza outbreaks, caused predominantly by the H5N1 HPAI virus, plus other subtypes, including H5N8, have occurred in India, the UK, the Netherlands and Israel with the ever recorded mortality of the Svalbard barnacle geese in Solway Coast.
The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds, co-convened by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on Monday recommended that surveillance and biosecurity measures are reinforced to reduce spillover risk between poultry and wild birds. The Task Force has convened and produced recommendations and guidance for authorities and managers of countries affected or at risk. Wild birds, including globally threatened species, are victims of HPAI viruses causing avian influenza. Affected sites also include areas of international relevance for conservation such as protected wetlands.
More than 2,400 migratory water birds died in the Pong wetlands in Himachal last year because of avian influenza. | Unsplash
It is essential that authorities with responsibility for animal health apply the One Health approach for communicating and addressing avian influenza. That means recognising the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment and acting with a coordinated and unified approach. The Task Force reminds authorities of their international obligations to ensure their response to the pathogenic virus does not include the culling of wild birds, nor actions that would cause damage to natural ecosystems, especially wetlands.
Ruth Cromie, who coordinated the work of the Task Force and the production of the statement, said: "Avian influenza represents a One Health issue threatening health across the board. The highly pathogenic viruses are still relatively new in wild birds and this winter's high levels of mortality remind us of their vulnerability and that working to promote healthy wildlife benefits us all." H5N1 is currently the avian influenza lineage most found in Africa and Eurasia in both poultry and wild birds. The wide range of wild birds affected include wildfowl, waders, gulls, cranes, grebes, herons, pelicans, gamebirds, corvids and raptors (diurnal and nocturnal), in addition to sporadic cases in mammals such as red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) and harbor Phoca vitulina and grey seal Halichoerus grypus.
Consider occupational exposure, e.g. those working on poultry culling operations. | Unsplash
In terms of human health, the currently circulating H5N1 HPAI viruses do not seem to pose the same zoonotic risk as the 'original' Asian lineage H5N1 (clade 2.2 and their derivatives plus clade 18.104.22.168b H5N6 viruses currently in China). In general, the risk can be considered low, recognising that some agencies now consider occupational exposure, e.g. those working on poultry culling operations, as low or moderate. In India, several instances of bird flu were reported in 2021. More than 2,400 migratory water birds, and almost half of them being endangered bar-headed goose, died in the Pong wetlands in Himachal Pradesh last year and that avian influenza (H5N1) was the cause.
Besides the bar-headed goose, the other species that died were the shoveler, the river tern, the pochard and the common teal. An 11-year-old boy died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi last year due to avian influenza, country's first fatality. India reported the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006. RSPB Scotland is calling for an emergency local moratorium restricting shooting on the Solway for the rest of the wildfowling season. It calls for urgent action to reduce the devastating impacts of avian influenza. New statistics from the most recent counts show that the UK is this winter experiencing the worst outbreak of this deadly disease on record, with migratory geese which 'over winter' on the Solway being the hardest hit.
According to RSPB Scotland, the latest population counts of the Svalbard barnacle goose show a drop in numbers from 43,703 in November last year to 27,133 in this month's count. This represents a decline of 38 per cent in the Svalbard breeding population of this species from winter 2020-21. CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel said: "Through late 2021 and early 2022 there have been numerous outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1, with severe impacts on migratory birds. "The CMS Secretariat responded by convening the Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds together with the FAO. We are pleased to share its advice and key recommendations for countries affected or at risk, and look forward to continuing our collaborative work to minimize risks to humans, poultry and wild populations of migratory birds." (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : avian, influenza, surveillance, United Nation, scientists, breeding, population, birds, affected, countries, poultry, migratory, health, issue, virus, responsibility, international, ecosystem.)