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It’s a way of life
CoirProducts Featured Grower this week, Chris (@glos_allotmenteer) started gardening about 16 years ago. In this blog post, Chris shares with us his gardening journey. He talks about the lessons he has learnt and his successes in the garden as well as what he finds the most challenging. Sharing a useful tip with other gardeners and growers, he urges everyone to enjoy being outdoors, and see gardening as a way of life. Read on to find out all about Chris’ gardening journey.
Recalling how he started gardening, Chris says, “about sixteen years ago my partner and I moved into a new place, so I was keen to put my own stamp on the garden.” He first grew vegetable and fruit trees, with an olive tree and palm tree. Since then, the fruit trees have matured, and there are now five raised beds for growing vegetables. Chris says he particularly loves growing perennial plants like rudbeckia, crocksosmia, lilies, and hostas as well as some annual plants like cosmos.
Reflecting on his gardening successes, Chris explains, “I have a flamingo tree (salix) that was planted about fifteen years ago and it is now over two meters high and such a gorgeous tree. Also I had a free miniature olive tree (about six inches high) with a bottle of olive oil about sixteen years ago, planted it up and it’s now well over two meters tall. No olives yet but I can dream.”
Gardening has also taught him valuable lessons. Among them, Chris says, one lesson he has learnt has been in planting invasive plants. “I was given a gorgeous grass plant that has lovely big seed heads. However it soon took over and was dug out about ten years ago and I’m still nipping out the seedlings from my garden from the stray seeds. Lesson learned!” On the other hand, speaking about what he finds the most challenging, Chris says, it’s “weeding, weeding, weeding,” adding, “if only the plants, fruit and vegetables grew as quickly.”
A typical day in the garden for Chris begins with some coffee, then he would water the garden and take stock of what needs to be done. He usually enjoys harvesting fruits and vegetables as well as “admiring pretty plants and thinking I grew that from a tiny seed.”
Chris also shared with us what he found the most beneficial when it came to growing one’s own, “not only does growing your own food have tasty rewards but it’s a pleasure to cultivate the ground and know exactly what is being fed into the plants and your own vegetables taste far superior than what you can ever buy in a supermarket.” At the same time, Chris is also inspired by other gardeners and growers. Reflecting on who inspires him the most when it comes to gardening, Chris explains, “I recently saw Gardener’s World Sue Kent do her first ever public talk at the Malvern Spring show. It was so inspiring to see Sue talk about conquering her garden despite her disabilities and also that it is OK to make mistakes!”
Having used some coir-based products before, Chris finds the ability of products like coco peat to retain moisture particularly beneficial. “It needs some organic matter mixed in but I’ve seen fabulous results with it,” he adds.
When it comes to gardening, Chris sees it as a way of life. “My tip for gardening is just enjoy being outdoors, a few weeds are good for the bees and don’t make it a chore. It’s a way of life!” He says he also finds it absolutely fascinating that growing your own is so popular now, “I’m not the only nerdy gardener who enjoys this long tradition,” adding “happy gardening everyone, whatever planting you’re into.”