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Sowing Seeds of Success

Published 6 months ago 22nd February 2022 by Neil Dennehy

The first lockdown of 2020 offered many of us with more time for Do-It-Yourself and Grow-It-Yourself. I guess when your home and garden become your whole world, aside from a daily walk within 2km, you have little choice but to pay these attention.

Garden pagodas and back-yard mini-bars sprung up all over the country. Polytunnels and greenhouses were flying out the gates of garden centres. Builders were flat-out working on “essential” extensions and renovations for people who actually had time to spend at home and realised they didn’t really like the look of it.

For me, the focus went on G.I.Y. The quality of our food plays a major part in supporting good health and I always liked the idea of being more self-sufficient. I had dabbled in the past with growing strawberries in a tomato tunnel and even kept four hens, namely nugget, fillet, curry and dipper, for a while. We were well supplied with eggs until a mink put an end to that endeavour.

In 2020 I made a restart, picked up two small tomato polytunnels from Woodies, some potting trays and compost, and went about planting. I started with a few herbs, some kale and put a slice of tomato, including the seeds, in a pot and covered it with compost. I also put a few already sprouting potatoes in an Aldi bag with soil to see if they could grow.

They all grew well, helped by the exceptionally fine Spring weather. I was pleasantly surprised by the tomato slice which yielded about a dozen tomato plants. I also found that I really enjoyed the simple act of watering them and seeing the progress they made each day.

That’s as far as I got that year as my focus, time and energy switched to other areas and, while I did get to eat a few spuds, tomatoes and kale, it wasn’t exactly a bountiful harvest. Small investment meant a small return. Still, it did remind me that growing food isn’t rocket science.

I decided to give it a decent shot in 2021. As a total novice, I saved a lot of trial-and-error thanks to the vast amount of G.I.Y. knowledge and experience available online and in books. I ended up with getting a basic 6 x 3 metre polytunnel, which took over most of my very accommodating and patient partner’s garden. Luckily, she liked the idea of home-grown fruit and veg!

I made some raised beds and hanging shelves for the tunnel and more beds for outside. Novice tip – those tonne bags that the topsoil arrived in are ready-made raised beds! I mixed in fresh topsoil and some pungent buy very rich manure, and we were ready to go.

Seeds were planted and over the next few weeks we watered daily, did a little bit of weeding and some slug control. As the weather warmed up, the growth really picked up and before we knew it, we had our first edible strawberry. I reckon it cost about €600 and god knows how many hours of labour. To be fair, it was sweet and juicy.

Then more came and as the summer wound on we were well rewarded. Courgettes, beetroot, spinach, cauliflower, scallions, carrots, kale, broccoli, rocket, lettuce, cabbage, peppers, radish and lots and lots of tomatoes. We had herbs too – dill, parsley, lovage, lemongrass and basil. With these, there were the already present raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants. It was most satisfying to get most of our salad, omelette and smoothie ingredients fresh from the garden. Delicious, vibrant with colour, loaded with nutrition and totally organic. Couldn’t be better!

We used the last of the carrots at the weekend and are still enjoying kale and some winter salad. This year will be easier as the groundwork, literally, is done. I gave the tunnel a wash and prepped the beds for planting by adding a little extra manure. Just a few hours work in total.

Fitness works on a similar principle. You have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. You will get hot and sweaty, maybe a bit smelly too. Getting some good advice from those with experience saves a lot of time and effort.

Still, it’s tough at the start, learning how your body works and what works for your body. The initial effort doesn’t give an obvious return, just like the seed that is germinating underground before the plant shows itself. That work and time is necessary for your body to grow stronger and healthier.

It takes even longer to bear fruit so patience and consistency are a must, but if you feed and water your body well each day, then use it in ways that encourage strength, stamina and flexibility, it will flourish.
How we exercise is more important than where. As little as 30-40 mins a day, working at the edge of what is comfortable, is enough to get results over time. It can be at the gym, in classes, through sports, on the hills, the blue-way or at home. Maybe get to work in the garden so your effort is doubly rewarded.
We undoubtedly find this spills over into other lifegoals as we gain greater confidence in ourselves and the growth process. Feeding and exercising our minds with education expands our knowledge and skill base. Nurturing our relationships grows our support network and increases the love we experience in our lives.

We don’t need loads of experience, time, space or resources to get started. We can work with what we have already and learn as we go. Have a think about the areas of your life garden that you would like to improve, plant some seeds and help them grow.

You can find more detailed holistic health tips and much more in my book, “What to do with Stardust? A mindful guide to health, wellbeing and success” available from Zero Waste Marketplace, the Honeypot Health food store, Sacred Senses, the Bookmarket, Clonmel and www.highestpotential.ie . Contact details for our Health Matters team of wellness practitioners and workshops available can be found on the website too.

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