This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Why I Garden...

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.


  1. I am always impressed with all the things you grow from seed. I have tried several times and don't have a very high success rate whether it is direct sow outdoors or indoors during the winter. What is your secret? Good luck in the competition. You deserve to win!

  2. Thanks for entering Kelli - I enjoyed reading this!

  3. It was nice to read how you came to enjoy gardening and why you do it. Good luck in the compeition.

  4. An interesting read, Kelli. Gardening is very addictive, isn't it? You start small, but then you always want to grow more and more things. As you know, my plot is very small compared with yours, and my priority has always been with veg, but I'm beginning to branch out into ornamentals too now - and your blog provides me with lots of inspiration in that respect!

  5. Lovely to read about how you started gardening Kelli, and great photos too. Good luck with the competition!

  6. Hi Kelli, it is interesting to read how you came to love gardening, enjoying the benefit of exercise, fresh air and healthy veggies, as well as the beauty of nature. Your blog is always one of my favorites and I really enjoyed this one! Good luck in the competition.

  7. My grandmother, too, started me very young in the love of flowers and gardening. She had me entering tiny flower arrangements in flower shows. I am trying to pass on the same of love gardening to my own grandchildren. You grow a lovely garden. I am always most amazed at how you start your own seeds and grow in containers. Good luck on the competition.

  8. Excellent post Kelli - it is interesting to read how your love of gardening started and carries on to this day. Your lovely garden is a tribute to your gardening skills.

  9. I'm not sure if my interest of gardening came from my grandparents but I do recall shelling homegrown peas on the back step of their house when I was little. And my favourite jam is still blackcurrant - from years of eating my grandmother's homemade version.

  10. It seems we both face the same gardening challenge Kelli - wind and rain.
    I don't seem to have the same success as yourself at growing from seed but I'm hoping to remedy that.
    Thank you for sharing such a lovely story and good luck with the competition.


  11. I really enjoyed reading your post for the competition. I'm going to make a nice drink and read the read of your blog now. I'm glad to have found your blog.

  12. Hello there! I found your blog from Sue's blog too and I love your post! I especially love the veg in containers!! That cabbage is exceptional!! :)