Friday, October 24, 2014

5 reasons why people don't grow vegetables

Having just returned from the UK on a lovely visit with my sister and her family we returned to find our garden into the full swing of spring.

One of the gardens yesterday
The tiny seedlings that were planted before I left are knee high, spinach has bolted, potatoes are ready to be dug out, tomatoes putting out their first flowers and cucumbers climbing up their trellis.

What a joy to know that from now on we will be eating daily from the garden. There is a huge amount of satisfaction in walking through the garden and seeing food for today, some for tomorrow and others for later in the month growing there.

It is pesticide and fertiliser free attested to the fact that bees and butterflies are visiting, snails and slugs hide under the lettuces and caterpillars munch away at the leaves of the brassicas.

Cucumbers in a barrel
It got me to thinking about why people wouldn't want to grow some of their own vegetables and I came up with a few thoughts based on what people have said over the years. I hope my thoughts on each of these will help you climb over your obstacles and embrace a little bit of veggie growing.

1. SPACE

While this may seem like a big problem it is actually only relative to what you want to grow. Even on our 300 m2 of arable land there are things I would love to grow but can't due to my space constraints. You simply need to grow what you can in the space that you have. Herbs can grow in containers on sunny windowsills, pots on balconies or like I do in pots on our paved area near the pool.

Making use of vertical space means that you can make a door sized bed and grow something climbing (beans, cucumbers, peas) in the centre of the bed, then grow something hip height around the outskirts of those plants like tomatoes and then right around the side of the bed you can grow herbs like basil or coriander.

Strawberry baskets dot all our walls
If you don't have a garden you can use a balcony to grow any of the plants mentioned above with some clever planning using pots and some form of climbing frame.

2. TIME

Tomatoes with their first blooms
I understand time constraints well. 4 children, homeschooling, home business, sports and cultural events, cooking from scratch, a menagerie of animals doesn't leave much time to twiddle my thumbs.

And, yes, I will admit that in the beginning it took time to establish a veggie garden and there are crunch times when you have to get plants into the ground or harvests processed but in general I do not spend more than 2 hours a week directly involved in the garden.

You need to simply decide what time you do have available and decide if you want to spend any or all of it in the garden. If you don't, then I wonder why you are reading this blog... :) :) :)

I also have Sam now to help me on a Friday which is has taken a huge load off my shoulders trying to keep up with the weeds, heavy garden work and general maintenance. We used to do this all until recently but with the current levels of work and study for my children I simply can't take up a whole day to work.

Sam has been a Godsend to us and has brought back the enjoyment of being able to do the nice things like sowing seed, planting out, tending too and harvesting.

Globe Artichoke

3. KNOW-HOW

If you are like my Superman you want to know all the ins and outs before taking the first step. If you are like me, you will jump in with both feet when the idea grabs you. Together Superman and I make a good team balancing the need for knowledge with the ability to "just do it".

There are those out there who want to know all about soil ph and what to feed to which plant when, I honestly couldn't be bothered. I do know enough about what a plant likes - for instance our Blueberries need an annual dose of pine needles or Rooibos mulch - but I have gardened simply for a long time now making sure we feed the soil lots of compost, worm tea, Bounce Back, bone meal and making sure that I plant a legume in a cycle throughout the beds in a year. I believe the plants take what they need from the soil and as we replenish with each new planting they will be fine.

There is a vast amount of information to get started on the internet and in print. These books all pretty much say the same thing so getting one good book on growing vegetables is all you need. Troubleshooting is nice to do on the web as its quick to see what the plant needs, Youtube is a stellar place to go for gardening inspiration and you are welcome to join our little FaceBook group here to ask your questions.

4. FEAR

Potatoes harvested yesterday
One of the things I needed to overcome was if after putting money into establishing raised beds we would face a crop failure and waste all the money. Well we have had lots of crop failures, but it wasn't money that I was worried about as I watched tomatoes die of blight, potato crops not come to pass, corn form weird kernels after waiting for them for 3 months...I was sad because of wasted time and then the loss of money.

Other people have told me they fear getting started and the commitment, others who worry about what people will say or not having the know how (see above). When we started we had a lot of people joke about our farm, neighbours who told us our compost heap would attract rats (we got cats to silence that) and our children would tell their friends they lived in a cottage plonked in the middle of a vegetable garden. I really do not worry about what other people have to say about our choice and we make sure our animals (read:chickens) don't bother them.

Perhaps fear of failure is something in your life, but I guarantee it manifests in other areas and is not directly related to veggie gardening, go on...give it a try...grow some tomatoes in a pot and you will soon overcome your fear.

5. LAZINESS

Well, we all struggle with this in one way or another, don't we? There are so many things that pull at us in this age that we live in, not just living life but cyberspace can gulp up loads of time. Then we have a moment to ourselves and what we choose to do with it is between you and yourself. If you don't want to grow veggies because you are lazy, then so be it.

I would challenge you though that when you put the first lettuce in a bowl, peel your first carrot or dig up your first potato, this act will become more enticing than the couch, TV or FaceBook. But like I said, its between you and yourself.

I am sure there are other reasons people don't grow vegetables, but these were the ones I thought about today while enjoying beautiful spinach, broad beans, onions and potatoes during the day's meals.

Voted the Beauty of the day

2 comments:

Louis said...

Hi Wendy

I think you very succinctly summarised the reasons people tend not to do vegetable gardening. I've also run into the same jokes (good-natured though) and listened to the same complaints - time, space etc etc.

I can honestly agree with you that space is as much a problem as you make it. I have huge, established trees and shrubs in my garden, and the combined space of my three beds (available for fruit and veggies) is about 12sq m. Tiny compared to yours. I've still managed to harvest enough sweet potatoes for a family of 5 to last 6 months and enough tomatoes to last a whole season (albeit two seasons ago). So no excuses really.

I love reading your posts... such an inspiration

Louis southafricanurbangardener

Urban Homestead South Africa said...

Hi Louis, well done on your gardening efforts!