This is a post about why I garden...
I’m not sure how my interest in gardening started, but I recall as a child going to my grandparent’s house and being fascinated by their vegetable plot. I would help dig up potatoes, and was bemused by a rubber snake they kept in their fruit bushes to deter birds. But best of all was going on slug safari at night to capture slimy plant crunching creatures. I also loved my grandmother’s excellent home cooking and in particular eating her home grown green beans and potatoes.
|Snapdragon grown from seed.|
Later, as an adult, I loved two things: being outdoors and being creative, so my interest in gardening began to sprout. Like many people I began with trips to the garden centre, buying plants on offer, and randomly planting them around the garden. But this didn’t seem very creative, so I began to cut trees and hedges into shapes (topiary).
I love colour in the garden so I decided it was a good idea to grow flowers from seed. I loved seeing seeds go from tiny little green threads to eventually flowering. It’s so easy to grow sunflowers, nasturtium, marigold, poppy and a range of other plants.
|Veg grown in containers.|
Then I decided I should grow things to eat so I researched the easiest vegetables to grow and began with potatoes, carrots, courgette, salads, and herbs. Before I knew it I was digging up half the garden, sections at a time, for flower and vegetable growing. Next I began mixing veg and flowers together in borders, and growing vegetables in containers at the back door - simpler than popping out to the grocery store!
The biggest challenge in doing anything outdoors in Northern Ireland is the weather – particularly the rain and wind! I have successes and failures but it’s all enjoyable. Last year in particular there were hundreds if not thousands of slugs and snails in the garden that caused havoc. They can quickly devour plants as a simple midnight snack. Growing organically, I generally revert to catching and disposing of them, or using beer traps.
For me, the outdoors provides a sort of open canvas to experiment with colour, shape and texture as I grow plants ranging from edibles to those that attract bees, birds and insects. Getting outdoors and getting my hands dirty is something I really enjoy. I find myself outside in the evenings inspecting progress, rearranging plants, deadheading (pulling off old flowers), weeding, slug hunting and just sipping a cup of tea while birds flutter and the bees buzz - a perfect way to de-stress and enjoy nature. And what great satisfaction it is to harvest edibles like courgette, tomato, turnip and your own summer salad. Over the years my grocery bill has been reduced from home growing. Things like kale, chard and leek are so easy to grow and packed with nutrients.
|Lupin grown from seed.|
When friends and family come to the garden, I hear comments like, ‘Wow look at the colour in the garden’ (referring to the giant purple lupin) or on the flipside, ‘Why would you want to grow things, isn’t it too much work?’ Many people think of gardening as a chore. Whereas I think of it as a fantastic way to keep fit, utilise my creative energy, and get a result I can see and enjoy. Maintaining a garden is like having your own little paradise right on your doorstep (and enjoying the fruits of your labour!).
As a way to get to know other people with an interest in gardening I began blogging. Blogging is also a good way to keep a diary of my gardening efforts and progress. It has been a great way to share learning and make new contacts, and through blogging I’ve now a circle of enthusiasts from England, Scotland, Ireland, USA and further afield who are always on hand to provide support and advice. Cheers to fellow bloggers who provide encouraging comments on my blog – very much appreciated!
(This post is part of a competition entry, with the prize being provided by SelectFurnishings.
You can enter too at Green Lane Allotments. Good luck!)
Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.