Quite often when talking incessantly about my garden, vegetable growing and my aim to become as self-sufficient as possible I am met with the following:
“How do you find the time?”
“My children would be bored, they hate gardening”
“I could never run an allotment as well as bring up the kids, there aren’t enough hours in the day, they would go mad”
“How on earth do you get your kids to sit and be quiet while you get the jobs done”
“There is no way I could afford to get my garden started let alone finished”
This is just a few of the reasons people give for not being able to grow their own produce, making their garden somewhere to enjoy or having fun with their kids without the need for tv, phones or computers. I understand technology is moving forward but I have to disagree that a gardening design app on your phone or tablet is anywhere near the same than getting outside with a trowel and some seeds. Planting seeds on Farmville, harvesting the plants and keeping livestock just isn’t the same as digging up fresh potatoes, pulling fresh carrots or collecting freshly laid eggs.
I believe the addiction to computers, televsions is led to the unfortunate truth that many children are not aware exactly where their food comes from, they just assume it comes in polythene bags from a supermarket. My middle child came back from school the other day very excited that they were growing beans at school, she was very proud because she was the only one who knew that beans did not just come in tin cans and that you had to pod peas (the amount of podding she did last year I wasn’t surprised she remembered).
Gardening should be enjoyable and is a basic skill that should be taught in schools like manners and reading is. Years ago the only vegetables available were those that were grown, it wasn’t called self-sufficiency it was just a way a life and somewhere along the way it has got lost with parents having to work longer hours, life being so rushed and the ease of picking up a bag of frozen vegetables.
It doesn’t have to be hard work, what you may see as a job could also be considered an afternoon out. I often pack a picnic, the camping stove and the kettle for a trip to the allotment. I have contemplated a BBQ and I am hoping soon I could get fellow allotment holders to join in. I take a blanket, lay out a picnic on a corner of the allotment, take spades, buckets, a ball and it is a free day out. The children meet other children while they are there and happily set out to create a team for a football match, play tag, treasure hunts or mud pies and the best thing is they are laughing, having fun without a screen in sight. Sitting down for some sandwiches, drinks and a cup of tea in the bright sunshine with the wind blowing on your face and the sights and smells of the allotment is nothing short of a perfect day out. When going to the allotment the children don’t have to be bored, they have so much space to play in, take food so they don’t get hungry and a bucket for the call of nature! Although my eldest is adverse to a bucket or a bush but at 10 she has far better bladder control than my littler two.
Gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. One of my challenges last year was to get my garden cleared and useable for nothing and I am proud to say that even though I still have work to do it is now in a useable condition for free. Baring in mind last year it was 6 foot high in weeds with various plumbing equipment left behind from the previous owners I think the fact it now has borders, a herb garden, a rose garden and a lovely patio created from nothing. I have since purchased a chicken coop and run which I saved for and a bee hive which I sold my IPhone to buy (I hate those phones, give me my basic Nokia anytime).
To enable to get so much completed for free I used freecycle which is a fantastic source of free things. Someone getting rid of a load of top soil I used to fill my borders to save buying compost along with the chicken waste which composted down nicely over the winter and I have some lovely rich soil in which to plant in. Unwanted plant pots from another freecycler stocked up my greenhouse, and I will add my Halls greenhouse which would cost hundreds of pounds new was FREE from freecycle. A gentleman had moved into a house and the greenhouse was surplus to his requirements, I was lucky enough to ask first.
I found a waterbutt in a skip so I knocked on the the owner’s door and asked if I could have it, it needed a new tap which is about £3 from my local DIY store. My eldest daughter was distraught that I would ask somebody if I could have something out of their skip but she is slowly accepting that I will probably spend the next several years embarrassing her with my wombling.
Another successful find was a metal trolley left by the bins at my middle daughter’s school, I worked out if I placed two large squares of wood on the racks I would have greenhouse staging, the middle one even pushed it home for me, she pretended she was embarrassed but I know she found it great fun.
I sourced some bricks from a friend and I have used them to edge my borders. They are very old bricks so look lovely and rustic. I take cuttings from plants I see in the street or in the park and have been given cuttings from friends and families and have had some great results. When buying plants I wait until the end of the season or buy rootballs from a pound shop, I have never had a failure yet.
So as you can see there are so many ways you can find time, have fun and afford to have a lovely and useful garden! I will have lots more tips and tricks coming but thought I would provide a few tit bits.