I love Kat's page @katgrowsveg. She is sharing lovely videos and inspiration for young gardeners (and all gardeners!). I've loved reading Kat's answers below- I think grandparents in the garden is such a special memory. If you don't follow Kat already then go and follow her on instagram.
Hi, I'm Kat
Tell us a bit about you and when did you start gardening, and why?
I am a student in my final year of college and next year I hope to start university to study adult nursing, while hopefully still keeping up gardening as it is a good stress reliever. I started gardening many years ago growing herbs and nasturtiums in pots in the corner of my dad’s polytunnel. I was always very outdoorsy and made the garden my place to enjoy myself. I started growing on a very small scale but have expanded in recent years. Last year I bought loads more seeds to grow more food as I wanted to start eating healthier. I found that buying fresh food from the supermarket was very low quality for the price you have to pay. So, I sowed my seeds and my dad built me a raised bed. I loved it so much, not having to rely on the supermarkets for fresh food which can be damaging to the environment. This year I have built another raised bed and a strawberry planter so I can become a bit more self-sufficient. I don’t think I could ever stop gardening because it makes me so happy and has got me through some really hard times.
Which gardeners inspire you and why?
I would have to say my Granny has inspired me so much. She used to run a market garden selling flowers, fruit and veg to the local community. I found some old negatives of what the garden used to look like and it was really interesting as I feel like I am helping to bring the garden back to its purpose. I remember her sitting outside on the bench and weeding the flower beds in her wellies and I used to smile. I loved seeing her do the gardening because it made her happy and gave her purpose. When I garden, I think that it is a little bit of her shining though.
My dad also is a big inspiration to me. His job means he grows lots of different fruit, vegetables and flowers. I have spent my summers helping him with his work for a very long time and I really enjoyed it. Yes, it was hard work digging up potatoes in the hot sun and deadheading about a hundred cosmos plants in one go but I enjoyed it. He also has provided me with lots of gardening knowledge which has helped me to develop as a gardener.
What’s the most ambitious gardening project you’ve completed or have planned?
I feel like my garden will always change from year to year. This year there are so many more flower beds in the garden whereas last year there were only around three. I think that the most ambitious project that I have done is building my little area for growing food. I do not do DIY! My dad made a raised bed last year for me but this year I was going to do it on my own. However, this mind-set changed when I started to build my strawberry planter on stilts. Lets just say I don’t think I could have done it on my own and still made it look as good as it does.
What is your favourite thing to grow?
This is a really hard question to answer. Courgettes are great because I love them and I always find myself cooking new things because there are always so many. I grow two courgette plants and I always end up giving loads away. Sunflowers make me smile whenever I look at them. I was driving past a sugar beet field last year and they had a drift of sunflowers next to the field and I loved it. This year I am growing loads of sunflowers because of it. My all-time favourite flower is Cosmos because they look so beautiful and I love the way that they move in the wind. They are also super easy to grow. They come in so many colours and the bees love them and I want to invite as many bees into my garden as possible.
Anything new you want to try in the next growing season?
I am growing brassicas for the first time this year. I never liked broccoli as a child but within the past year I have grown to like it so I am growing my own. I am also growing Brussel sprouts which I really don’t like but my whole family loves them so it is my contribution to Christmas dinner. This year I am also growing quite a few perennial flowers from seed. Perennials when bought as plants in garden centres are very pricey which would not fit my budget. As well as saving money it gives me more to do in the garden. Every year I try to grow something new because it gives me more to learn about.
Where is your favourite garden in the world, and why?
I would have to say my garden. I have grown up in the garden and watched it change overtime. There are so many memories I have in the garden that make me happy. The garden is very big compared to most gardens but I like the fact I could escape to the bottom of the garden. In fact, in the summer last year, it was so peaceful to sit by the apple trees surrounded by cow parsley reading my book.
I don’t think I have really been to many different gardens. But I am taking my mum to go to RHS Hyde Hall in June for her birthday present. Which I think will be really inspiring for me. Who knows when I get back I might dig up another part of the garden.
What do you wish you’d known earlier about gardening?
There is no such thing as a failure. Whenever something may go wrong there is usually a reason. If you have had a ‘failure’ you can learn from it. I have had many things go wrong. I grew lettuce but did not cover it with insect netting and therefore it got eaten before I could eat it. I was so disheartened but I learned from it. Now, I know that I should cover my lettuce because it will get eaten. You will always know for next time what you could do differently to have a more successful garden. So don’t let ‘failures’ get you down because you will improve.
What advice would you give someone new to gardening?
It is not all going to happen at once. Gardening is a slow process and getting your garden to where you want it to be will take a while. Start off small when starting a garden because you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew as it can make it feel stressful. Do odd jobs here and there. I used to want to start a job and finish it on the same day but that can’t happen with gardening because it is a slow process. Also, your garden may never be how you wanted it to be when you first started. A garden is always changing with the seasons and evolving. There may always be more you can do to improve the garden or get it how you want it to look. Starting slowly can help you to get the most out of your space.
When not gardening, what do you like doing?
I have recently started to crochet as I find it very relaxing to do in the evenings. At the moment I have made a few hats and one jumper but I am now starting to knit because I think it will give me more projects to do. Relaxing hobbies are my favourite because they are calming which is good for my mental health. I also really enjoy photography. I like the fact I can capture a moment in time to look back on. I look back at old pictures in albums and see so many memories that may have been forgotten. By taking the pictures it can help to save a piece of my history.