Sorry, nothing in cart.
I love how gardening makes you feel
We’re happy to announce our Grower of the Month for February 2021. @stephs_allotment loves growing using an eco-friendly ethos, and loves how gardening gives her a sense of achievement and peacefulness, among other things. Read on to find out how she started growing, what she loves to grow in her garden, her tips for other gardeners, her future plans, and much more.
How and when did you start gardening/growing?
I started gardening and growing my own when I was 17. I had started a job in a garden centre as a till assistant. We were all given some seed potatoes which were covered in straggly, long shoots. I took my bag of seed potatoes home and planted them in the garden and instantly I had the bug! I was lucky that my parents have a large garden and there was already an un-used veg garden there. I got my first greenhouse when I was 18 and over the following 4 years, I added another 2 (all 3 were second hand freebies too!) My partner and I bought our first home together in 2015 which came with a tiny garden! Not much space for veg growing, however, in March 2019 I got my first allotment.
How has your garden changed since you first started growing?
Our garden was a blank canvas when we moved into our new home 6 years ago. Just clay, rubble and the odd patch of soil. Every year we add something new, move something elsewhere and admire what we have created. We try to have interest year-round, following a cottage garden style planting. Because I have an allotment for veg growing the garden is mostly for plants and shrubs although I do have a greenhouse for starting my seeds and of course for housing tomatoes over the summer. We garden and grow using an eco-friendly ethos. We feed the birds and plant pollinator friendly plants. We also have a small wildlife pond which last year welcomed lots of frogs and we even had dragonflies!
What do you grow? Do you have a favourite plant/vegetable/crop, and why?
I grow as much as I can squeeze onto my allotment. It’s probably easier to say what I don’t grow! I love growing tomatoes. The taste of warm tomatoes straight from the vine is what summer is all about. We are also huge garlic fans so always grow a full bed of autumn planting garlic. We use it in most meals and it stores so well too.
What is your typical day like, when it comes to tending to your garden?
A typical day in the garden or on the allotment always starts with a good wander round (usually with a cup of tea in hand). I like to have a look at what’s happening and make mental notes of things that need tending. I will usually have a list of specific things I need to do (potting on seedlings, planting out new perennials, turning compost) and then it’s whatever comes naturally eg, weeding, deadheading, harvesting crops. Of course, there is much time spent relaxing and enjoying the space, that is after all, what it’s all about.
What do you enjoy most about growing/gardening?
I love how gardening makes you feel. The sense of achievement, the peacefulness, watching small seeds turning into magnificent plants… I love knowing that I can sow a seed and within a few months’ time I can be harvesting fresh veg to feed myself and my partner (and usually work colleagues and neighbours too!). It’s such a satisfying feeling.
What tips would you offer to other gardeners/growers?
My best tip to share with other growers is ‘to not give up’. Sometimes things don’t go to plan but you shouldn’t give up. Assess what went wrong, what you could have done different and try again. Sometimes things go wrong and it’s not our fault at all (weather is a huge factor) we just have to accept and look forward to the next thing. The most important tip I would say however is to ENJOY it! Enjoy sowing those seeds, pulling out the weeds and just being in your green space.
What are some of the benefits of growing your own?
Growing your own gives you the choice to grow what you want. Things that may be too expensive in the supermarket or may not even be available. I love knowing my veg is as fresh as it could possibly be with 0 air miles too. Growing your own also encourages you to be creative with food. We’ve all been there with the courgette glut and it’s probably the only time I would try making courgette bread or chocolate courgette cake! And it’s so lovely too. There’s also the added benefit of the fresh air and the exercise. Tending your plot or your garden keeps you fit and well without even realising it.
What are some of the benefits of using coir-based products?
I must confess I have never used coir-based products before but I am really looking forward to changing that! I like the eco-friendliness of coir products. Using something that would otherwise be a waste product is always a good step.
What are your future plans for your garden?
This year we are aiming to finish the herb garden that we started last summer. We are adding a raised bed for those sun loving herbs, such as thyme, that need extra drainage. We have around 10 different thyme varieties now, each one so unique in taste and smell. We are also adding another bed for flowers, red’s and pink’s, which we’re looking forward to starting.