Who doesn't dream about being able to open their back door and be met with a burgeoning array of fresh homegrown organic produce? Then why do so few people make that dream a reality and create a home vegetable garden for themselves?
This week we will look at the Top 5 main reasons we hear from people about why they either don't start a garden or have failed when they have tried in the past.
The two main reasons we often hear about why people don't start creating their gardens are a lack of time and knowledge. When we began our Smart Veggie patch, we were incredibly time-pressured and certainly lacked any Horticultural degrees. Having six children, running our farm and operating our Hemp Food company meant we would wake up most mornings knowing that we already had too much to do given the meagre 24 hours each day offered us.
When it came to growing food, we knew that you could spend a lifetime learning all there was to know about growing a single type of vegetable, let alone an assortment of them. So how could we manage a home garden on top of everything else? How would we find the time and learn what we needed to know to succeed and not end up in the 'tried and failed' category of home garden dreamers?
That challenge led us to design and create our 'Smart Veggie patch'.
We looked back on the series of failed traditional gardens we had created over the years and reviewed why they had not succeeded. We found that there were five main reasons for this consistent disappointment. One was just a simple lack of time. The two areas we found that consumed the most time were watering and weeding. If not regularly done, both would mean the slow demise of our garden, so we knew we needed to address these critical problems. Other issues we knew had played a role in these failures were weather damage, plant health and the involuntary sharing of our produce with the local wildlife!
We then defined our five top reasons why our gardens were failing, which were (in order of importance).
- Adverse weather impact
- Plant health
- Crop loss from animals
These things can spell disaster to a garden and require lots of time and knowledge to alleviate. Some of them are obviously about luck, like the weather. We did not want to endure the 'good years, bad years' scenario that all outdoor produce growers face. We knew from experience that for various reasons, every good year we had was usually followed by a bad or disappointing year. It is more than disheartening to know that at least half of our precious time and effort would bring discouraging results. It is challenging to continue with any project when the benefits don't outweigh the effort you have made.
So, we set about building a garden that would eliminate or minimise these five main issues. For us, these were the major issues that kept reoccurring and thwarting our attempts at creating a self-sufficient and sustainable food supply.
We reasoned that the extra time and effort required in the initial building and set-up of our Smart Veggie patch would be offset by reducing the time and effort needed to maintain it. We found, in reality, that the time and effort we saved was much more than we could have ever imagined. The ten to fifteen hours a week we used to assign to garden tasks now take just two or three. That time saving, factored over one year, let alone five or ten years, is a really significant time-saving. It can easily be the difference between the dream becoming a reality and avoiding the 'tried and failed' cycle of home gardening. And it is not just the reduced time requirement that has been a boon, but also the consistency and reliability of the garden that we now enjoy.
I see many beautiful veggie patchs on social media. Still, many do not address these five main issues that are a reality of any home garden. I have to assume that the owner must have a vast amount of 'extra' time on their hands to support and maintain it. I can't help but wonder what happens when the next massive rain event occurs or every bird that lives in a thirty-mile radius decides that your food is their food? Still, other questions come to mind, like how they have healthy plants, year after year, with only a few inches of soil in a ground-level garden bed?
Turning a traditional garden into a Smart Veggie patch certainly takes more time, effort and finances in the beginning. When calculating the benefits and improvements, it makes much more sense to set it up the smart way from the start.
I believe any home veggie patch is better than no home veggie patch and will always be worth the time and effort you can afford. Still, the idea of getting more from less surely has to be appealing to almost everyone. We now have been truly spoiled by our Smart Veggie patchs' ease and output. A couple of hours of time and effort a week now creates more super nutritious food than we could possibly eat. Better still, every year simply gets better and better. All those disheartening 'bad' years are no more!
I understand that everyone creates their home garden for various reasons. Perhaps we look at it a bit less romantically than others; for us, it is more of a 'food production system'. It is not that we don't enjoy all the 'feel-good' aspects of having our own amazing organic homegrown garden. It is just that our priority is to reliably feed ourselves and our family the very best food we can, with the least amount of time and effort.
Ask yourself what your most important reason is for starting a garden at your home. If it is only for a few well-lit selfies on Instagram, then a Smart Veggie patch is definitely not worth the extra effort. If you want to grow the healthiest food you can, efficiently and reliably, then a Smart Veggie patch will make your homegrown food dream an actual reality.