Meet the Gardener: Katie from @kitchengardenbykatie
Katie's page is full of veg from her new allotment! I love her honest gardening updates and watching the progress of her allotment develop. Plus Katie shares some amazing recipes and gardening tips on her blog too!
Tell us a bit about you and when did you start gardening, and why?
I left school at the age of 16 to become a full time model which was my career for 10 years. My career as a model gave me the opportunity to travel while my friends were all studying/working full time. During that time I became passionate about fitness and nutrition which led me to train to become a personal trainer.
A combination of a passion for nutrition, combined with a realisation of the state the planet was in led me to want to grow my own food. When we moved from London to Bedfordshire in early 2018, I knew I wanted to get an allotment. We finally got our first half plot in May 2019 and I completely fell in love. I’ve always fancied growing a few veggies but I never imagined I would love it as much as I do, nor would I ever grow fruit and vegetables on the scale I do now!
Which gardeners inspire you and why?
Well I used to watch Ground Force with my parents when I was little, and at the age of 6 I decided I wanted to be a gardener (that of course changed, and I have now gone full circle!). So I guess Charlie Dimmock and Alan Titchmarsh deserve a mention here.
If I’m completely honest though, the gardeners that really inspire me are those who are able to grow most of their food on their own land. I love watching self sufficiency videos and homestead tours on youtube! Liz Zorab is one name that springs to mind, but there are quite a few who are living the dream!
What's the most ambitious gardening project you've completed or have planned?
Without a doubt taking on our new allotment plot. We had our original half plot under control but wanted to upsize, so decided to take on a full plot that had become available, despite the terrible state it was in. The plot hadn’t been tended to properly for at least 3 years. There was also all sorts of rubbish and smashed glass buried in the soil. It was a nightmare! I was also adamant to use at least half of the plot in the first growing season so I had about six weeks to clear it ready for growing!
What is your favourite thing to grow?
This is a very difficult question to answer! I love growing food and I love the variety you can achieve by growing your own. If I had to choose then I’d probably say tomatoes. I love tomatoes and shop bought ones just don’t compare to what you can grow. Plus all the different shapes and colours they come in just amazes me! It actually makes me quite sad now seeing how little variety is available to buy.
Anything new you want to try in the next growing season?
If you asked me this a year ago I never thought I’d be saying this, but I really want to grow more flowers! I’ve definitely been very heavily focused on growing food up until now but the more photos I see of beautiful gardens and the more Gardeners World I watch, the more I want to grow flowers! I’m looking forward to having lots of different spring bulbs for next year. Anything that can add colour to my garden and bring in the bees and butterflies!
Where is your favourite garden in the world, and why?
Another tough question! Can I name three?
Kew Gardens has a special place in my heart, and I love the variety there too. Singapore botanical gardens are absolutely stunning and as someone who loves orchids I couldn’t not mention Singapore! Finally in 2020 we managed to sneak a trip in to Sri Lanka just before lockdown. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy were incredible. I thought it would be ‘just another garden’ but there were so many interesting and unusual trees and other plants I’d never seen before. I absolutely loved it there!
What do you wish you'd known earlier about gardening?
I wish I knew earlier how good for the soul gardening is. Since having an allotment I feel like my priorities in life have shifted from how I could maximise my earnings potential to just wanting to live a simple life. I feel like the new me is a much nicer and more compassionate person. I had no idea when taking on an allotment that it would change me as a person this much!
What advice would you give someone new to gardening?
Just start. The best way to learn is by making mistakes. That being said, there are plenty of excellent resources to help beginner gardeners so it is definitely worth having a couple of books to get you started too. Also definitely look into using the no-dig method!
When not gardening, what do you like doing?
Does browsing seed catalogues count as not gardening?
But on a more serious note, when I showed my boyfriend these questions his answer to this one for me was ‘eating’! I am a massive foodie so I do like cooking (and eating) good food! I have also been a rock climber for nearly 9 years now, so I’m looking forward to being back on the walls in the autumn when the garden isn’t so busy.
Finally, I absolutely love working on my blog! It is my baby and as someone who is useless with technology I am so proud of what I have managed to create. It is also the best feeling when someone messages me to tell me how useful they find it!
Go and read Katie's blog: https://kitchengardenbykatie.com/ for more inspiration on how you can grow your own veg and flowers!