Failure is as much a part of gardening as success

Failure is as much a part of gardening as success

Everybody knows that through gardening, we can strive and achieve to be more sustainable in our daily lives. However, Fran and her friends, aka, @eudaimonia_garden, take it a step further. In this blog post, our November Grower of the Month details all about her own gardening activities; what inspired her to get started, what moves she has made to live more sustainably, and teaches us about the method of guerilla gardening.

Firstly, we take a look into Fran’s gardening background and how she got into it:

“When I was a child, I was in charge of watering the family vegetable patch and used to run home from school, excited to check how much things had grown during the day. My Grandad had given us a few of his Rhubarb crowns and it was always the most fascinating and treasured crop we grew. It wasn’t until later that I realised how green-fingered my Grandad was and I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks living with him and soaking in his knowledge and passion before he passed away.

As far as struggles with gardening go, I took on a big challenge of clearing and growing on a pretty large plot all in one season… it definitely got a bit stressful and overwhelming at points when I thought it was perhaps a bit too ambitious. Lockdown was somewhat of a blessing for convincing friends to get their hands dirty and give gardening a go with me but sadly since the pubs reopened it’s been more challenging to get them back onboard. However, seeing my friends squealing and excited that their seeds have germinated was the biggest success this year!

I’m a lot more chilled than I was 6 months ago… after many failed attempts and several unpredicted disasters I’ve learned to accept that failure is as much a part of gardening as success. And if you can’t laugh then you sure as hell will cry! Next season will definitely be pushing the boundaries of sowing windows and just bunging stuff in”.

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Many gardeners and growers have a certain plant, flower, fruit, or vegetable which they are passionate about growing, and this can change over time as new growing techniques are tried and bring about good results. Fran is no exception to having a favourite:

“For a few years it was mint, (banana, strawberry, ginger, pineapple, garden, spear)… until I realised I had over 10 varieties with absolutely no idea what to use them in! I can become quite obsessive so I’m trying to focus on diversifying as much as I can and make sure I’m growing what I want to eat”.

A big benefit that Fran has found in gardening is being able to share it with her friends. Gardening is a very sociable activity, one where people can ask questions, give advice, and show off their gardens, so why not get others involved?

“Gardening with friends has been so eye opening! I’ve been so surprised at how little my friends know about where food comes from and how much time and nurture goes into it. In Spring we planted peas and several people were shocked to find out the pea is the seed of the plant – there seems to be such a deep disconnect in knowledge and it’s really rewarding to be able to bridge that gap”.

Fran and her friends have taken their love for gardening, and used it for community building and making our streets a little bit greener.

“Did you know that 2.78 million people have no green space within accessible walking distance from their home in the UK? I think that’s quite frightening! Luckily, guerrilla gardening is an easy way to change this; by gardening in spaces that have been neglected and overlooked, locals can transform their neighbourhoods into little green havens. There are some remarkable statistics on the mental and physical health benefits of introducing more greenery into a community, so I’d really encourage everyone to find an abandoned tree pit or an orphaned planter and get planting! Also if you’re nervous about doing it by yourself, have a look to see if there are any gardening groups in your area – and @johnwelsh1 stoked my fire to begin! At the very least you’ll bring smiles to your neighbours and that definitely can’t hurt”.

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Guerilla gardening, encouraging the growth of more green spaces, is one way of being sustainable. Yet Fran doesn’t stop there on her mission to be more ecologically sound, making changes in her daily life and in the garden.

“I was zero-waste for about 3 years before the pandemic hit, when it became unrealistic and very difficult, so I’ve tried almost every trick in the book! I know there’s an argument saying that replacing your cotton buds and toothbrush isn’t going to save the environment, but I think it’s the little accessible things that begin the thought process and lead to larger changes. My sister is a great example of this, starting off with plastic free toilet paper 2 years ago and now she’s reducing her air travel and considering how ethical/environmental her future career path is. Seek out your local bulk bin / zero waste store if you can to cut out so much unnecessary waste and if you’re struggling to find a switch DM me and maybe I can help!

I’ve never used coir-based products before but I’m really excited to see how they compare with other peat-free products out there!”

Thank you so much to Fran for sharing her passions of gardening and sustainability with us, we hope you got to learn something out of it – we sure did about guerilla gardening! You can continue to follow Fran on Instagram @eudaimonia_gardening. And finally, as with every gardener, Fran has her own piece of advice to give:

“I read somewhere that you should stick with 5-6 plants in your first year and grow them well. I took that as a challenge and ended up with over 85 varieties last season and I wouldn’t recommend it! Luckily I wasn’t deterred by the amount of failure that came with spreading myself thin but I was exhausted!!”

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