I’ve come to “serious” gardening fairly late in life, though for 2/3 years I did have an allotment until the pressures of work and studying for an Open University degree ended that. Why did I do it then and why have I returned to it now? Originally it was to get a supply of home produced organic vegetables which back then – the mid 1980s – wasn’t all that easy to purchase in a northern english city.
Back to the present and I have taken early retirement so now have the time but its much more complicated than that obviously! Our whole move to France was predicated on wanting to live a different sort of life to the one we had lived previously. We wanted a rural property with plenty of land for growing fruit, vegetables and flowers and to be brutally honest we couldn’t afford that lifestyle on a pension in the UK. The price of small holdings was way beyond our means in any part of the UK, and heavy demand for such properties drives up prices. We had always holidayed in France and liked the more relaxed lifestyle so it seemed a way out of our conundrum as rural properties with land in some areas of France are still relatively cheap. So far so good.
Back in the 1980s who did I turn to for inspiration? Well obviously my Dad was one and I’ve written about him here on this blog.
Geoff Hamilton was another. A well known TV gardener who was an early proponent of organic gardening and put it over in a down to earth no nonsense manner. I followed his advice and caused a bit of a stir – along with a few others – as we starting cutting up our allotments into separate beds…. His obituary in the Independent sums him up nicely.
‘He was an organic gardener, eschewing chemicals and passionately opposing the use of peat in potting composts because extracting it from the earth can endanger natural habitats. Although never cranky or obsessive about ecology he was one of the first New Age gardeners, politically correct before the phrase became fashionable.’
In the past few years three main inspirations stand out.
Firstly, the internet has been a huge inspiration. Its been a revelation following various bloggers and forums and learning, learning all the way. Some of my favourites are listed on my blogroll and honourable mentions must go to The Grapevine whose forum I have only just discovered but what a resource of friendly helpful gardeners it is. Also in France, the contributors to the Gardening section on The France Forum.
Secondly Monty Don a UK gardener/broadcaster, who again eschews chemicals and grows organically. He is an excellent writer and presenter and is a continual inspiration. Find out more at his website ( hmm under construction it would seem.) and follow him on Twitter.
Last but not least Nigel Slater, a cook rather than a gardener, but his books are full of recipes inspired by his garden produce and has led to some of my growing choices. For a sample of his writing style here he is writing in The Guardian on Purple Sprouting Broccoli and he is an avid Twitter user.
Well I definitely need inspiration today as its been drizzling all day so far and we are heading into four days of rain after Tuesday. But it has given me the time to write this post and planting out the last of my main crop potatoes will have to wait another day.
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