Welcome to blog post number two! This time I want to talk gardening because it has become a huge part of my life recently. Growing your own veg can benefit nature in lots of ways (flowers = supporting pollinators, not using pesticides = good for the planet, eating what you've grown = less food miles). Gardening is also really good for the gardener's physical and mental wellbeing!
6 months ago I was not a gardener. I grew chillies last year, grew potatoes a few years ago and have had various pots of herbs I've tried and failed to keep alive but that was the extent of my gardening efforts. I'd always used the excuse that I didn't know how long I was going to be living in a place so didn't want to have things growing in pots I'd either have to lug with me when I moved or leave behind.
When we were looking for a house, a big garden was a must-have because we knew we wanted to have a veg patch and learn to grow our own as part of our journey towards being as self-sufficient as possible. We finally (after 2 years of searching) got lucky and now have a small field out the front of our house - a blank canvas for us to make our mark on. I picked a suitable site and began the veg patch creation in February. The plan was to start fairly small as I was a total gardening novice with a fairly busy lifestyle - 2 long veg beds fenced off with space to expand as and when - that was the plan.
I wasn't very well at the beginning of this year. I discovered I had a B12 deficiency and it was affecting me quite badly physically and mentally. Digging the veg patch was an amazing escape. It was slow progress - dig a bit, rest a lot and so on, but I got there. I had the company of two of the neighbours chickens as I dug. Why did the chicken cross the road? I have the answer.... the smell of worms being unearthed in freshly dug soil will do the trick!
I then prepped the fence as much as I could alone (my other half works away a lot), then called in a team of friends to help complete the fence. The fence was crucial due to large numbers of rabbits around where we live.
I began sowing seeds and meticulously reading gardening books so I could plan where things would go.... all of a sudden we were in the midst of a pandemic. The country was locked down, I was working from home, the weather was glorious and like so many other people lucky enough to have a garden, it was where I was spending most of my spare time. Those two veg beds were suddenly full (I also hadn't realised how much space things need to grow...) and so I dug more beds which slowly began to fill up too. I cleared more space for another bed, the final bit of space inside the fenced area.
My spare time has been happily taken up with weeding, watering and watching my garden grow. Whilst in the veg patch, I have observed spring appear and morph into summer (more on my spring nature highlights in my previous post). It has been magical. I feel so in tune with nature as I potter about my veg patch, I am kept company by a male blackbird and, more recently, a robin fledgling.
I have now extended the fence and begun to dig more beds so that I can continue planting new things throughout the year. I've had so much time to learn from online research and a couple of gardening books (as well as some invaluable advice from my grandad and a couple of green-fingered friends) that I have gotten to grips with it all far sooner that I thought I would have done. In the last week I have eaten my first strawberry and broad beans, I've feasted on salad, garnished food with fresh basil and nasturtium flowers and made fresh mint tea.
I know we are in really strange times at the moment but I have definitely found my silver lining. In less than 6 months, I have created a vegetable garden from scratch and learned how to grow a variety of produce and I'm excited to continue learning how to grow new things. Today I've sown some pak choi, chard and spinach in one of my new beds. Tomorrow, I will be digging up my first lot of new potatoes.
I feel healthy and happy when I'm in the garden. I can switch off my brain to escape from the real world and just enjoy chatting to the wildlife and my plants (yes, I chat to the plants). I've put in the hard work learning the basics and prepping the area whilst I've had time so that it should all be fairly straightforward to maintain. Also, it seems that we're going to be fairly self-sufficient in vegetables at this rate which is amazing because it will be reducing my footprint on the planet and judging by this article I read this morning, is the way forwards - https://offgridworld.com/un-report-says-small-scale-organic-farming-only-way-to-feed-the-world/
One final thing to share with you is another article I've read which talks about scientific findings that soil contains antidepressant microbes, a reason to get stuck in if there ever was one - https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm
If anyone reading this has any questions, please feel free to get in touch. I'd be happy to give my non-expert advice on how to start gardening!
Thanks for reading.