Hands up if you read magazines?
*Me! Me! Me!*
I subscribe to a number of gardening magazines and I enjoy reading them. They provide some great advice, tips and plenty of inspiration for my allotment garden and for the topics I write about on the blog.
But they aren’t real.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. After all, their job is to sell us inspiration. To make us buy them for the content, ideas and of course their beautiful pictures. All about our favourite subject – gardening.
Let me clarify that point. They aren’t real for the majority of people. They are something to often aspire too yes, but not something we should compare ourselves too and cast personal judgement. There are already tragic consequences of this issue taking place as a result of beauty and fashion magazines and I feel there is an important factor involved that can be considered across other areas when the topic is something we are very much passionate about and often something to which we are emotionally attached.
Stop it! The important issue is to ensure we anchor ourselves to what it is about the engagement in gardening and how it makes us feel when we do it.
Last week, allotment blogger and friend Annabelle from Life at No’ 27, wrote a wonderful post titled Plot Pressure. The post is incredibly true and identifies a very important issue that many of us face – The pressure of gardens and allotments always looking tip top and perfect.
There are many factors that make perfection – whatever that is – a possibility. In many cases, these influencing factors are personal, environmental and certainly based on our own individual situations. The value of any garden or allotment should be measured subjectively and by means of our own ambition (which is often a moving scale), our personal needs (what do we want from it?) and most importantly, our happiness (what this is will vary for all of us).
My allotment is rarely an image of perfection. It is constantly a moving beast. A battle with weeds and sometimes a fire fight. It is a changing palette, and certainly a shifting landscape. All of which are linked to my own personal situation.
One of the most important things to do, is remind yourself of how it all began.
Most allotment holders don’t have the luxury of a clean slate when they collect the keys to their new plot. The majority of us have experienced the new plot as a whole and feeling incredibly daunted and often ashamed by the ‘orrible, neglected and unsightly beginnings. I genuinely believe this is a major factor in the number of new plot holders who walk away from their plots after a short time.
Look at what you have achieved since that first day. No matter how long you have held the allotment garden. You have something to be proud of.
Any level of progress is an achievement. Any crop or flower is a success. It’s important you relish these things as and when and in what proportion they arise.
I’ve always had a plan. I’ve always had a vision of what I hope the allotment garden will one day be. The essential thing is to be honest with yourself and really think about the important factors that define the role of your plot.
The hardest bit is sticking with it and maintaining the enthusiasm in the good times and the bad. It’s a long game allotment gardening (probably any gardening to be honest) and you have to maintain a level of perspective.
I’ve had my current allotment garden for just over two years and it’s been a continuous work in progress.
Life for all of us is busy and there are periods where our world is thrown into chaos. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming yourself when you can’t make time to be at the allotment. You have no reason to put such pressure on yourself. It will be there waiting for you when you return and when you do return, keep the perspective. Slow and steady always win the race and always remind yourself of what you get out of the garden.
One final point, remember all the fun, success, moments of laughter and sense of community you have experienced or indeed will experience as you keep the garden going. Ava and I have had a lot of fun on our allotment and I hope to create many more happy memories along the way.
If you’ve not done so already, check out Annabelle’s #MyRealView over on Twitter. Join in and share some of your own photo’s of the allotment or kitchen garden – The real view.
Allotment gardening, growing my own and writing this blog has brought me a lot of happiness and plenty of new friendships and sense of community online. I’m so grateful for how many people read the blog and engage with me through the comments and through my social media channels – thank you!
It’s also brought me a lot of new projects and opportunities. I can’t wait to share these with you as we continue on this fantastic grow your own journey. I’ll be sharing one of these exciting opportunities in the next blog post.
Apart from this post, I’ve been trying to get into a routine with my articles and going forward I’ll publish a new blog post every Monday morning.
I’d love you hear how you enjoy your allotment or kitchen garden. In amongst the weeds, brambles and ‘orrible bits, there is the important stuff – the memories, experiences, friendships and family fun. Not forgetting all the tasty fruit and veg. Let me know in the comments below.
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