Confessions Of An Amateur Urban Gardener II

As the title goes this post is a sequel to my previous post which was basically me expressing my difficulties and challenges I was (and sometimes) am still experiencing as it relates to gardening. Let me be honest, gardening is a very new but interesting venture for me. Before I started I never knew anything about gardening or growing food. During my time in secondary school subjects like agriculture, food and nutrition, technical drawing and clothing/textile were tagged vocational subjects and fortunately or unfortunately (depending on which side you are on) students where only given the opportunity to choose ONE. Personally, I find that sad because I believe these restriction limit the capabilities of young children who are still trying to explore and figure out who they are/their talents/gifts/abilities. That stage of life is crucial for self discovery.

Telfairia occidentalis (Ugu) germinating

 

It grew but I was unable to find out the reason for the leaves turning yellow so it died.
This broke my heart…

Anyway back to my story, I had no clue about how to grow food or gardening of any kind but I had made a decision to start growing something so I started anyway I could. Well, let’s just say the learning phase has been quite bumpy and challenging. Today I may be able to germinate a seed but due to one mistake or the other the plant dies, while other times I put the seeds in the soil and they don’t just grow. It can be frustrating especially when you try over and over again. But then, a little ray of sunshine comes… a seed germinates, and grows and grows some more, and I’m able to harvest something out of it. It is at such times that you are reminded of why you started in the first place and you know that it was all worth it. Oh! what a feeling it is!

Germinating Amaranth… An unwanted visitor ate some of it 
But it survived and grew to this…
And grew some more… 

So here are a few tips and lessons I have learned in my journey so far…

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: I believe those who have started businesses or tried something new will be able to relate to this. Being disappointed time and time again is not a fun feeling at all, why you started and your vision is what will keep you going again and again. Another important tip is to be observant, look at the soil, moisture level to see if there is something you can adjust to make the germinating conditions enabling.

And I harvested…

Read, Ask questions, Seek help: The internet and social media in general have been of great help to me in this journey of gardening and growing food. There are blogs that teach about how to sow seeds, the type of soil you need, soil amendments, environment for growing and so on. I will have to point out though that a lot of these blogs and information sites are foreign based, therefore so the information they give is based on their weather, soil type and soil amendment availability (which a Nigerian will quickly find that it’s not readily available). I do know that if you are determined you can make it work using what you have around you like chicken manure, compost, Epsom salt and others.

Curcuma longa (Tumeric) being all beautiful…

Celebrate your wins, learn from your losses: I recently saw a post on Instagram that gives context to this tip and it says “Social media is curated content, Don’t forget.” When you see pictures of gardens, fruit trees and harvests on social media it will make you drool like nothing you have ever seen. But when you then catch the fever and decide to start your own, you will find that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, colours and harvests. You will have pests, slow growth or even no growth at all, but in all you need to power through. When your seeds finally germinate, celebrate it; when you get that harvest show it off. Then also when things go crazy, your plants are getting devoured, or it’s not yielding any fruit, find out why, take down notes, gather tips/suggestions and then try again (and again).

Yellow Bell Pepper (Capsicum spp) growing up to be big and strong.

So these are my confessions, I hope this has encouraged an amateur gardener like me out there. It would be a thrill to hear from you about you challenges and triumphs with growing food or any other new venture you’re trying out.