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This year I tried to grow anything and everything!
We recently got into contact with independent gardener Kay, who in this blog post tells us all about how she started out gardening, discussing who and what inspired her, where she is with her garden now, and how she has benefitted from it. Kay also talks about how she has integrated gardening into her family life, and provides some tips to those new to gardening.
“I started my gardening journey in 2020. My Mum and Dad did a lot of gardening and grew their own food when I was growing up (I never listened at that time but I wish I had!). I was inspired to grow my own food from watching the Mountain Men series too. I love the off grid lifestyle and being self reliant but what was also important for me was to be able to grow organically too. I’m pretty surprised at how much has grown considering this was my first full year and it got off to a rubbish start weather wise. Last year I was reading up a lot about gardening and watching tutorials. I’d left things quite late in the year, so I had to start off with Autumn planting, none of which went very well. This year I was prepared in January and it’s been so much more successful.
Throughout 2021, I’ve tried to grow anything and everything! It’s been a huge learning curve and I’m so glad I tried out growing many things rather than sticking to a few. My successes so far have been potatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, romanesco and cabbages. I don’t have a speciality just yet but in the future I’d love to be able to grow my own exotic fruit somehow or my own winter spices. My future plans are to grow lots of pumpkins and winter squash! I love how they have a long shelf life which is important for me. Also, lots of gypsophila for next year to fill out vases. I try to get out every day to water, prune, pick food or collect herbs for drying but sometimes I can get lazy. However, finding a withered or completely dead plant, or a badly gnawed courgette that I can dig up and replant something else usually sorts this out.
Aside from being something great to focus on and helping with depression and anxiety, I also love how it’s such a big accomplishment growing something yourself instead of buying it. Being able to choose which flowers I grow and then to fill the vases in the house with them throughout the year to brighten it up is an amazing feeling. I also use my own flowers to tend to family resting places too and it feels much more personal than shop bought.
I’m working on self sufficiency as much as I can. Trying to live with less and less has been surprisingly enjoyable and it’s lovely seeing my family eating a meal you just picked from the garden or allotment and knowing where it came from.
I homeschool full time and have been able to integrate this into my 6 year old daughter’s learning too. We’re currently reading and watching The Little House On The Prairie and we pretend we’re preparing for the blizzard in winter. We’ve loved collecting all of our vegetables and preserving them in different ways in our ‘winter store’.
However, I found it was getting costly buying compost to start off with, but I then discovered Coir Products, which are excellent value and serve so many purposes. They’ve been great for starting off seeds, filling out raised beds with the bigger blocks and more. It’s definitely a must for me in the future.
Some tips I have for new gardeners? I always say just start. Skip reading the books and watching tutorials. Just start anyway and you’ll learn as you go along as you watch that plant or seedling grow. Then read the books and tutorials when anything comes up. I’ve found that I’ve learned faster this way and it’s easier to understand things better if you’re figuring it all out in real life rather than from a book.”
If you want to follow more of Kay’s gardening journey and watch her progress, be sure to follow her on Instagram @kays.allotment.