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A sense of pride
CoirProducts featured grower this week, Jo @joandcolovetogrow is no stranger to gardening. Having been growing from as long as she can remember, in this blog post, Jo talks about what she loves to grow, what she finds challenging, and some valuable lessons she has learnt through gardening. She reminds us to be patient when it comes to gardening, and tells us why she loves the sense of pride gardening brings, especially from growing seeds to eating what they grow as a family.
Reflecting on her early experiences in gardening, Jo says, “we always grew our own tomatoes, cucumbers and sunflowers in our greenhouse when I was younger.” Even now, she says, “every time I walk into a greenhouse and smell tomato plants, it takes me back. We had a fab garden with loads of fruit bushes and ducks at the bottom!”
Later, when Jo had her own garden and allotment, she began to grow everything she could get her hands on, “all kinds of herbs, flowers and vegetables… things that I probably wouldn’t even eat!” But, now, as she says, “I grow what we eat as a family and only a few flowers, although I’m hoping to start growing more flowers for next year.”
Speaking of what she loves to grow, Jo explains, “my absolute favourite things to grow have to be sweetcorn and Chard. You just can’t beat the taste of freshly picked corn. It’s amazing and they are such impressive plants and surprisingly easy to grow. And chard is just so bright and really brightens up the plot. That is another one that is easy to grow and it doesn’t seem to be affected by pests, so it’s an all round winner!”
Jo counts everything that she has grown from seeds as among her biggest gardening successes. But as she adds, what makes her feel really proud is “when the kids actually eat something we have grown.” In addition, she says, “I have also managed to keep a Poinsettia alive for nearly two years! That feels like an achievement”.
There are many lessons Jo has learnt through gardening. As for her most valuable lesson, Jo says, “take your time and just grow what you eat and enjoy instead of feeling the pressure to grow things that might be popular on social media! Does anyone actually like kohl rabi? Just do you and be patient.” On the other hand, something she finds challenging are the weeds, “My plot is covered in bindweed and it’s just relentless, if only it was edible. I’m not overly keen on slugs and snails either!!”
A typical day in the garden for Jo begins with her going outside in the morning with her coffee and looking around the garden and the greenhouse. “Then as the day goes on I just potter about, I’m in and out all day!! Then back out in the evening to water and sometimes just sit in the greenhouse and chill,” she says.
Reflecting on the benefits of growing your own, Jo emphasises its benefits on one’s mental health. “Apart from the obvious health benefits of gardening and eating fresh organic vegetables, the mental health benefits are huge for me. Just being outside in the fresh air really makes me feel better. Also, I think you can lose yourself for hours when in the garden. There is always something to do and it helps to clear and quieten your mind, especially after a busy or tough day,” she explains.
Speaking of her biggest inspirations when it comes to gardening, Jo says, “number one has to be Monty Don. I love his passion, his love for plants and growing… it’s infectious. He also loves to cook which I do too. He has some amazing cookbooks, all using produce from his own garden.”
Having used some coir-based products for gardening, Jo says, “I start pretty much everything I grow off in coircoins, they are brilliant! There is something oddly satisfying about rehydrating them too. They save so much time and also help reduce the amount of compost you use. And they are peat free and totally sustainable, so they are great for our environment.”
There is so much to love and enjoy when it comes to gardening. As Jo says, “I love the sense of pride you feel from growing something from seed that you and your family get to enjoy together and this is the whole process from sowing the seed, to planting it out at the allotment, to nurturing then harvesting and to the best bit, eating it!!”
Even though growing your own is hugely rewarding, it can be hard work too. “Pests and weeds can really get you down,” Jo says, adding, “try not to let it get you down when things don’t go well. Sometimes just being outside can be enough, you don’t have to do “jobs” every day. Also get everyone involved, kids absolutely love to grow their own and are much more likely to eat it if they have helped in the process.” She urges other gardeners to enjoy the process and let go of the pressure to grow things others grow. She reminds us, “it is really important to have patience and let nature do her job. Everything grows at a different rate and we all have different growing conditions and sow dates, so try not to compare.”