At the beginning of January 2021 I was contacted by Human’s who grow food with a fantastic opportunity to share my gardening story on their social media platforms. Human’s who grow food have created a fantastic new website. If you get a chance please head over and pay them a visit.
Here’s the blog that I wrote below:
“I am a 27-year-old proud Welshman and am passionate about growing food sustainably in a way that enriches the biodiversity of our garden, which in turn also increases its productivity. I garden organically following permaculture principles and using the no-dig method.
My Tad-cu (or Grandfather in Welsh) was a huge gardening inspiration. But I must admit I never really found gardening or decided one day that I would like to start a new hobby in gardening rather gardening found me in a way. I was fortunate to be brought up playing between the gigantic rhubarb leaves of my grandfather’s garden or stealing his raspberries or strawberries. My grandparent’s generation grew their own food because they had to, it was what was done after the second world war. Luckily for me, living on the same street as my grandparents and with neighbours who were all keen gardeners – I was offered the best gardening education from the very beginning. After all, that’s how garden knowledge is developed and shared, through the fantastic community and society that is built upon gardening.
I grow food because it gives me a sense of satisfaction and allows us as a family to live a self-sufficient lifestyle and support our environment at the same time. We have learnt how to store and preserve food and make the most of what we have.
I live in West Wales and have just under half an acre of grounds. We have tried to squeeze as much growing space as possible with over 20 raised beds, containers, greenhouses and polytunnels all to maximize our food production. We have also created large wildlife areas (flower meadows, wildlife pond, native hedging) to try and create a wildlife corridor and entice beneficial creatures into our garden.
We grow a large variety of vegetables, fruits and flowers. We grow brassicas, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, beans, salads, tomatoes, peppers and of course leeks (our national emblem in Wales). We have recently planted a new orchard and have a fruit cage with blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. We also interplant the raised beds with companion plants and flowers to entice pollinators into the garden such as French Marigolds, Feverfew, Liatris Spicata and giant hyssops.
We use the no-dig method which means that we do not till, rotavate or dig the soil at all rather we just add a mulch of about 2 inches of fresh compost on the garden every year. This method allows us to plant crops densely and produce greater yields in a smaller area. We are also peat-free and create most of our own compost.
By gardening in a way that encourages nature into the garden, pest management has never been a big problem. I believe that as gardeners we are only one small part of the garden and nature is the driving force every time.
I think it’s all about balance, accepting that some crops will be lost to pest damage but if you have a healthy ecosystem in your garden, any pest damage should be minimal. Nature has an amazing way of finding the balance – the worst thing we can possibly do as gardeners is tip that balance in the wrong direction. We actively ensure that all aspects of our gardening is organic without the use of any pesticides or chemical fertilisers.
My grandfather once gave me a handful of bean seeds and shallot sets and from that day forward, I realised the importance of seed-saving. My grandfather sadly left us in 2006 when I was only 13 but I am still cultivating those same beans and shallots descended from his seed stock and I think that connection is priceless. Knowing that a part of my past and my upbringing is being nurtured and grown in my garden today fills me with pride. I try and save as much seeds as possible and am also a member of the Heritage Seed library. I source most of my seeds from Welsh seed companies, but I do have a tendency to drop seeds into the trolly or basket when out and about as well. Time is almost certainly the biggest hurdle I face. Ultimately my dream would be to be able to forge a career that is completely revolved around sustainable food production and gardening. We have recently established our own limited company with the aim of sharing gardening knowledge, education and food production – so hopefully one day, we will be able to increase the amount of time we have in the garden. The biggest reward for me personally is harvesting and cooking what we have managed to grow ourselves. There is no better taste than the tase of homegrown produce. Even if you have only managed to grow a single strawberry, the sense of achievement and fulfilment is unbeatable.
I am a member of Garden Organic UK and also work closely with the National Botanic Garden of Wales’ Growing the Future Project where I create bilingual educational resources like garden videos encouraging people to make the most of their open spaces and give gardening a go.I also contribute monthly to a Welsh breakfast programme (Y Sioe Frecwast) on BBC Radio Cymru 2 and have a regular gardening slot on the Welsh daily magazine programme ‘Prynhawn Da’ where I share gardening tips and ideas. Since the pandemic began, I have also started running online gardening Zoom workshops with community groups across Wales.
Gardening is a fun and exciting journey. There may be ups and downs along the way, but the most important thing is to enjoy your garden, however big or small. Every garden is different, and we all have our own unique ways of gardening and it’s this that makes gardening such a rewarding way to spend our time.
No matter how much we think we know there will always be more to learn.
Humans Who Grow Food features stories of home gardeners, farmers and community gardens across borders and cultures.
They want to connect with growers from countries that haven’t featured yet. Please message or email them to tell them your story: firstname.lastname@example.org or message them on Facebook.