Meet Carys from Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom

“I’m an enthusiastic veg growing, nature loving person with possibly an addiction to collecting seeds and plants. I’m also a wife and mother to my beautiful daughter and handsome pet duck, Pippin.

One of my earliest memories is gardening with my Grampie. He grew runner beans and tomatoes in his garden and my love of growing vegetables stemmed from there. My Grampie had a big collection of seeds and I was inspired by the varieties of fruits and vegetables you can grow that you just can’t get in a supermarket. When I bought my first house I knew I wanted to grow food so we bought a property with a good sized garden. I started with only a few beans and courgettes and got well and truly bitten by the gardening bug. A few years later I was fortunate enough to get an allotment so I could grow even more.

Gardening makes me happy, I love being outside and now that I’m a mother I want my daughter to experience this joy as well. I think it’s amazing to see the huge variety of fruit and vegetables that are produced from a selection of tiny seeds and I love to grow unusual things that I can’t find in a supermarket. In more recent years I have been conscious to live a more sustainable lifestyle and trying to reduce my food miles and carbon footprint and growing your own is an excellent way to do this.

I live in Cardiff, Wales and I grow my food in my allotment and back garden. It’s about 300square meters. This year I’ve grown over a hundred varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruits. Some of our favourite things to grow are rhubarb, kale, beans, sweetcorn, squash, tomatoes, edible flowers, elephant garlic, root vegetables, gooseberries and potatoes. I like to add a few new things into my growing repertoire each year, when I first started I grew only runner beans and courgettes!

One of my top tips to any gardener would be to fertilize, fertilize, fertilize your soil. I use whatever I can get my hands on! Manure from our local farm, our pet ducks bedding, seaweed and ash from our log burner. We compost the majority of our food and garden waste and make liquid fertilizer using nettles and green manure.

My husband made friends with the staff at the coffee shop where he works and every day he comes home with a bucket of used coffee grounds. Last year he brought home about 1.5 tonnes of coffee which would have gone to landfill. Coffee grounds are supposed to deter slugs but I have to say this wasn’t my experience!!

I definitely have a seed addiction! Most of my friends have shoe boxes of shoes. I have shoe boxes of seeds. I love to save and swap seeds with friends, family and this year with other people on Instagram which has been great fun! I actually have plants growing in my back garden which originally came from my Great Grandparents house which is so special to me.

Finding time to fit gardening into my busy life can be challenging! Little and often is better than huge efforts once in a while. If you can’t get the allotment for two weeks or more the weeds really start to grow so little short bursts really helps keep things under control.

The biggest reward is spending time with my husband and daughter and being able to turn our beautiful harvests into tasty family meals. We are trying to cut down the amount of processed food that we consume and cooking all of our own meals from scratch with ingredients we have grown goes a long way towards that.

The social aspect of gardening is also very important to us and being part of a regular community at the allotment is rewarding in many ways. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with like minded people, chat about the weather, swap seeds and vegetables, help each other out or just to moan about the lettuce eating slugs or the brassica eating pigeons.

Anyone can grow food and you don’t need large amounts of growing space, time or money. Start small and have fun! Even after all these years, the thrill of seeing seeds germinate and pop through the soil is as exciting now as it was when I was a young girl.”