We learn best from failures

We learn best from failures

CoirProducts Featured Grower this week, Derek Daly (@fiveminutegardener) has always enjoyed gardening. In this blog post, Derek tells us what he loves to grow and what he finds challenging. He says what he loves about gardening is the time he gets to spend with his son, who is fast becoming a little gardener. He also shares with us some valuable lessons he has learnt along the way, especially how we learn best from failures. Read on to learn more about Derek’s gardening journey. 

Speaking of how he got into gardening, Derek says, “I always enjoyed gardening, but when we bought our house the previous owners had some potatoes growing down on one corner and everything just snowballed from there to getting an allotment”.

Since then, Derek has come to grow anything he can eat, especially if it’s something he cannot get from the shops. “My golden raspberries are a standout winner every year although it’s the humble garlic that’s my favourite. One clove grows a full bulb, we use them in so many meals and then I save some for planting the next year which gives you bigger and better bulbs,” he adds.

Derek says he has been lucky enough to partner with some great brands, written for magazines and blogs, adding, “I was on a podcast and then my 3 year old became a regular contributor to another.” Yet, his true success, he says, “is passing on the love for gardening to my son without forcing it, he sees it as a treat as much as I do.”

Derek also shared with us some valuable lessons he has learnt along the way. He examples, “things will go wrong. Let me repeat that, things will go wrong and that’s okay with me. We learn best from failures. Last year, I was so excited to finally have baby luffa growing on my plot but unfortunately they never grew any bigger and soon fell off. I was disappointed and so was my son until he realised we could compost the plant and make more soil for next year. That is his way of looking on the bright side of things and I learnt that to grow luffa successfully, it really needs to be in a greenhouse… so now I need a greenhouse!”

On the other hand, finding the time to do it everyone, Derek says, is what he finds the hardest. “I have to be very good at multi-tasking and either tackling things little and often or a big session every now and then.” He goes on to add, “Bindweed used to be my nemesis until I realised I could feed it to my chickens.”

Derek also stressed on the importance of growing your own, “you know exactly what has gone into your food and you can reduce your carbon footprint on the planet.” An added advantage is, he adds, “showing children where their food comes from will encourage them to eat more fruit & vegetables. I always remember one of my nephews refusing to eat brussel sprouts at Christmas until I told him they were the ones that we had grown together, he had three helpings!”

As for what he enjoys the most about gardening, Derek says that while providing for his family is really important, he really values the time he gets to spend with his son. “He has really grown to be a great little gardener and has a far more interesting view on the world making the allotment feel magical. It felt especially nice watching him give away flowers to people in our neighbourhood”.

Derek also shared his experiences of using coir-based products. He explained, “using a growing medium that does not contain peat is the first tick so that I am not contributing to the loss of that ecosystem, instead coir is a by product of another process, this would otherwise be waste if not turned into a growing medium that can enable me to lock away its carbon into my soil which in turn further helps my plants to thrive and pull in more carbon from the atmosphere. Also, being able to carry a few 5kg blocks in my backpack walking to the plot is a massive bonus when you realise that each 5kg block makes up about 70 litres of compost!”

Sharing tips and suggestions with other gardeners, Derek urges everyone to just give it a try, saying, “there is only so much that can go wrong.” He goes on to add, “focus on what you want to actually grow and be adventurous while remembering not to beat yourself up over anything that does not grow as well as hoped. Just promise me you will not compare yourself negatively to what you see online, often this is the aspirational side of gardening and can be far from the reality for most gardeners. I may show photos of stunning dahlias but you may not notice the cluttered rickety shed behind me.”


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