“I want to do something useful with my time”

By Maartje Veneman

Even though the quarantine has forced many of us to slow down, others try to use this free time as efficiently as possible. That’s why a lot of people are using their extra time in quarantine to work in their backyard. They roll up their sleeves, pick up their shovel and gloves, and get to work. 

Karina Van der Weide (51) and Pieter Veneman (53) have used their time in quarantine to their advantage by tackling their backyard. Changing up the garden was something they wanted to do once they had time, but it never worked out until now. “We always have to work or go to our row club. We thought it would be a good idea to finally start this long-awaited project when quarantine began because we want to use our time efficiently” says Karina. Her husband agrees and points out that the ground in the back of the garden has collapsed. “The garden has seen better days. We moved in 18 years ago and we have not done anything big like this before.”

The garden has roughly 80 m2 of surface which they remodeled in nine days. Their three daughters have helped them from time to time by cleaning bricks or moving the firewood from one lumber shed to another. “We have a few lumber sheds in the garden that we had to move around a few times, but everything worked out in the end. I am so happy that we took the time to fix our backyard even though it took a while”, Pieter admits. 

Pieter and Karina look at the garden a lot because they are working from home for the time being. When they take a break, they take a stroll through the garden to clear their head and to look at the plants. Karina went on multiple shopping trips to garden centers to get plants and she will probably go back soon for more.

One of the garden centers that Karina went too is Garden Center Ofman in Wormer. Cor Ofman, the owner of the garden center, has seen the number of customers increase dramatically since the quarantine started. “People want to use their time productively which I understand. I am constantly ordering new plants so the center remains stocked.” 

Karina and Pieter are not planning to stop after this project, because the rest of the house is next. The attic needs new wallpaper and the living room is in need of a makeover as well. Pieter says that they are remodeling their living room so they can enjoy their garden more. “We are buying a new couch so we can look outside more easily. This way we can appreciate the backyard in style.” 

The daughter of Pieter and Karina, Karlijn Veneman (18) has also used this time to her advantage by starting her kitchen garden. “When my parents said that they were going to rebuild the garden, I quickly claimed a spot for myself” says Karlijn. “I picked vegetable plants that I knew my family members would like. I have broccoli, zucchini, carrots, lettuce, radishes, strawberries, corn, and cucumbers and I would like to have a basil plant next.” 

Karlijn admits that she didn’t look into everything that well when she first started. Because of this, she accidentally planted broccoli in the center of her kitchen garden. “Broccoli plants have an acid kind of discharge at their roots that other plants can’t handle. I had to move them far away from the others.” Karlijn is overall very happy with the progress that she has made in the last month and is hoping for good weather this summer. 

While the Veneman-family worked on the garden outside, Sophie Roggeband (21) worked on her indoor garden. When quarantine started, Sophie began to express her love for plants in the backyard. “I always wanted to grow my vegetables, but I never did. Now, I’m in the backyard every day. I want to do something useful with my time”, says Sophie. In the beginning, she mostly focused on maintaining the vegetable plants but currently, she’s becoming into houseplants as well. 

“I have been following a girl called Yasmine Wilde on Instagram for six years now. She posts aesthetic photos about her life and has around 70 plants. I asked her advice on which plant I should start with and it helped me out a lot.” Sophie continues by telling about her trip to a garden center where she was planning on buying three house plants. “Eventually, I walked away with eight house plants, but they are just too cool.”

If she had to pick, the Monstera Deliciosa would be Sophie’s favorite plant in her current collection. “I think it is very easy to take care of and it seems to like its spot between two large windows. It has been a week and it’s already growing.” Sophie is very excited and proud of the four new leaves that her favorite plant has grown. “I never had green thumbs but now that I have enough time to take care of them, the plants seem happy and so am I.”