My garden is very much a place for family

My garden is very much a place for family Grower of the Month for November 2020, @mummybeargrows tells us how, these days, her garden is very much a place for family. Read on to get to know more about her gardening journey, from when she started gardening, to some of her favourite plants, and her future plans.

How and when did you start gardening/growing?

I started gardening in 2001 when I bought my first house and it came with a small veg patch complete with rhubarb and raspberry canes. I’ve moved house twice since and those initial raspberry canes have moved with me both times and are still going strong today.

How has your garden changed since you first started growing?

Over the last few years I have started to be more interested in growing flowers as well as fruit and vegetables and it has been nice to be able to cut flowers for myself and to give to friends and family, and so much more sustainable than cut flowers from the shops.

Since getting an allotment in 2019 I have been able to move most of the produce to the plot and keep my garden for more of the prettier or high maintenance things.

And these days my garden is very much a place for family, and I try to get my children involved in growing as much as I can. I think it’s really important to pass on an understanding and respect for nature and I would love it if my kids go on to have a love of growing too.

What do you grow? Do you have a favourite plant/vegetable/crop, and why?

I’ll have a go at anything really but am trying to grow things we will definitely eat as a family. Fruit has probably been the thing I’ve grown most consistently – raspberries as I’ve said, but also strawberries and currants and I have a cherry and plum tree in the garden. My son is a fruit fiend and almost always finds the ripe fruit before the rest of us get a chance! But my absolute favourite crop to grow is winter squash (I’ve attached a photo) – now with my allotment I have space to let my squash dreams come true. It’s a vegetable we love to eat in everything from soups to curries to cake, they store brilliantly when there isn’t a lot else around to harvest and they come in a huge varieties of colours and shapes, I love them.

What is your typical day like, when it comes to tending to your garden?

With a young family I don’t get a huge amount of time to get out in the garden every day but I try to involve the kids in things like seed sowing. I really value the time when they are at school and nursery and I can steal a few uninterrupted hours at the plot – it’s a total escape from the stresses of family life and being out in the fresh air, tending the earth is good for my soul and my mental health. I’m a no dig gardener and am using lots of cardboard and mulches of all varieties to keep my soil healthy and suppress the weeds – it’s a great time saver and I need all the help I can get.

What do you enjoy most about growing/gardening?

I love the satisfaction of planting tiny seeds, seeing them grow into plants and then growing organic fruit and vegetables which are nourishing my family. For me that is the best part of growing.

What tips would you offer to other gardeners/growers?

I would say have a go – start with a couple of pots if that is all you have. Ask friends and family for seeds or plants or cuttings – lots of things are out there for free. There is no need to spend lots of money on gardening and many keen gardeners will be only too happy to help out enthusiastic beginners.

Make your own compost, save seeds, reuse containers like yogurt pots, toilet roll tubes, plastic bottles – gardening really makes you think about your impact on the planet and what you can do to reduce your footprint by making use of all kinds of things.

What are some of the benefits of growing your own?

Growing your own means you can eat the healthiest, seasonal, organic produce. It keeps you fit both physically and mentally and keeps you in touch with nature and the seasons.

What are some of the benefits of using coir-based products?

I used coir a lot this last season as compost was harder to come by during lockdown. Getting coir delivered was convenient and it’s easier to store than compost as it’s dehydrated. When I needed it I just soaked it and used it as required.

I use coir in a few ways. I use it as part of my seed starting mix to ensure a good free draining mix. I added coir to my tomato potting mix to pad out more expensive compost. Coir is also excellent for growing carrots in containers which need the open structure and not too many nutrients.

What are your future plans for your garden?

I want to continue to tame my overgrown plot and grow more and more produce. I really need to learn about fruit trees as I have a few on the plot but they haven’t given me any fruit yet and the orchard area is overgrown with weeds. I also need to start making notes this year as it doesn’t come naturally to me and I some things have been sown too early or I want to try more successional sowing so I need to try and be more organised over all.

[Images provided by: @mummybeargrows]

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