As you all know, I’m a ‘newbie’ to the gardening world. I think it’s the same case for a lot of people in my generation. I’ve always been intrigued but thought “where do I start?”. I often follow my father-in-law around his veggie plot, picking his brains (and his peas), but it all seems second nature to him – like he was born with green fingers and I simply wasn’t.
Whilst at BBC Gardeners’ World Live, I managed to grab Monty Don (swoon) for a very short chat. I knew I only had one question so I picked the perfect one, cleared my throat and asked (in my best voice) “Monty, what inspired you to get into Gardening”. I was ready for the most awe-inspiring, poetic answer that would send me further under gardening’s spell. But no. “It was a chore when I was growing up” he said. HUH? It was an obstacle between him and fun. I couldn’t believe it. He went on to say that he rediscovered it in later life and that was that – the spark was re-ignited. Phew! I don’t want to imagine a world of gardening without ‘The Don’.
I was at a family party yesterday and I had a long chat with my grandfather-in-law, who’s also a keen gardener. I asked him the same question, only to get the same answer as Monty (swoon) gave – “It was a chore, a job”. He went on to say that he mainly spent his childhood at his Aunt’s house. She had a large garden, where they grew every vegetable imaginable, then they’d sell the goods to locals, as well as filling their own cupboards.
‘Wow’, I thought. What an enchanting image. Helping to grow fresh produce then getting the opportunity to sell your goods, and eat them too – what a privileged childhood. I was filled with envy – I longed for this start. I’m 30, and his 5-year-old self probably knew more about growing a potato than I do now!
Then it clicked.
It wasn’t a choice for many in that generation. I’m not saying that they were flat broke – they weren’t – but for many growing food wasn’t a novelty – it was a means of survival. Just as we nip to the supermarket to get our goods, they set up allotments. The reason why I wasn’t brought up with an allotment in the garden was because we didn’t have to. The supermarket was a far more appealing prospect for a busy family.
I want to change this. I want my children to know the basics of gardening. The garden has become such a sanctuary for me, and the littlies. I want to build on this and make sure they can always care for their own little slice of earth – wherever they are – and apart from anything – it’s FUN! We’re not blessed with a garden fit for an allotment but I’m going to do my best and get creative. Hopefully, I can inspire others to do the same!