I’m writing this looking out over a wet windy garden, feeling quite motivated to stay in and type. Though I’m sitting contented with gently aching muscles from a vigorous day of bed preparation with the garden team, in pleasant early season sunshine yesterday. Timing and grabbing opportunities while you can, is the only way to manage the GROW HQ veg patch in a spring of such variable weather.
This got me thinking of the difficulties for domestic growers, I would imagine most bosses would be less than impressed if you told them you were unable to come into work as weather and soil conditions were perfect to prepare your garden for planting. Working inside all week through sunny weather to be faced with a wet weekend must be very frustrating. I know that the constant checking and tipping away approach to gardening also often doesn’t really suit a contemporary state of mind. I find that many people have other things they want to do rather than stroll round their garden - strange but true. Years ago, as a young student I had an allotment to keep me fed and healthy, a friend of mine, with no really experience of growing anything also had an allotment on the same site. He tried to do everything in short, irregular, mad flurries of activity, with the inevitable result that he produced virtually nothing. I was happy to share my surplus with him, letting him harvest produce himself. Though I was a little surprised to turn up one day whilst he was harvesting from my plot with a young Spanish woman who he had told was on his own allotment. Apparently, he had been using my plot to impress women all year, something which had never occurred to me as a possibility. There was possibly a life lesson there for me, though one I chose to ignore!
In some ways growing veg can be difficult to fit in with a modern lifestyle and state of mind. I even found this a problem as a commercial grower, a few years ago, in the series of very wet summers we had, I was teaching two days per week and growing for the remainder. It seemed amazing (and very frustrating) that every Tuesday & Thursday (my teaching days) seemed to be sunny with the rest of the week miserable. I eventually decided to become an exclusively tunnel grower; I was able to schedule work and production – the reduction in stress was astonishing.
I suppose the challenge for GIY is to present growing as an activity that can fit in with a contemporary mind set and lifestyle – something which Mick and Karen manage very well in our new T.V. series, GROW COOK EAT on RTE1, Wednesdays at 7.30pm. To allow growing to fit around everything else that people do. Thinking about possible barriers to enjoyable home growing I would suggest the following for an easier life:
- Grow on a scale that doesn’t take up too much time.
- Grow in the easier time of year, wait till the (usually) drier months of April & May.
- Grow in raised beds with “artificial” soil, we made ours for the T.V. garden with a mixture of the very poor top soil we had on site & old potting compost.
- And consider a polytunnel if you want to schedule your growing into your life rather than your life into your growing
And if all this seems a little tame then you’ll just have to accept you’ve become a grower with the inevitable impact on such unimportant things as a social life. Well it’s never bothered me!