Why Do You Grow?

I’ve been pondering why I’m so interested in gardening. Why are some people driven to grow and others not. I’m fascinated by people who don’t grow because my family were always growing something, either a greenhouse-full of Tomatoes, or a row of Potatoes, or even a hanging basket full of Busy Lizzies copied from one we saw at Disney World!

There would be lengthy discussions before we went on holiday about who would water the garden. Of course, the Tomatoes would be fine because Dad had created his own drip-irrigation system complete with temperature controlled greenhouse ventilation. Even my Grandad had a garden full of roses and a shed made from old tin cans (didn’t everyone’s Grandad?).

I became obsessed with our garden. When I was about 13 I had a very small part of it to call my own where I planted ultra small plants and pretended it was a miniature garden. My miniature garden even had a bridge (stolen from the fishtank).

I must be about 17 in the photo above – well past my ‘miniature garden’ phase but definitely entering the Henna hair dye stage! You can see the Tomatoes in the background and if you look closely probably the watering system too.

My question is simple – how did you get into growing? Who introduced you to growing and how did it happen? What age were you? What was the first thing you grew?

28 Comments on “Why Do You Grow?

  1. My first gardening experience where I had a “crop” of my own was when I was about 7 and my mother allowed my sister and I to each choose a vegetable of our own to plant in the garden. My sister chose radishes and I chose carrots. As you can guess, my sister had the better experience when a month later she had nice round red radishes while my carrots were still pale orange threads. I don’t think I was able to leave any of them in the ground long enough to fully mature. But the planting and tending and waiting have become a life long pleasure despite my early disappointment.
    (When my own daughter was four, her choice of crop was cotton! The seed is not easy to come by but it has a beautiful flower.)

  2. I first got into gardening at the age of 6/7 and im 14 now. I was surprised I liked gardening because no one in my family liked or did gardening and the person who introduced me properly to it was mi step gran and the first thing i grew were chillies.
    Good post :)

  3. I began gardening only a few years ago when I was 21. I had met my husband who grew up with a garden in his parents backyard and made me very conscious of where my food was coming from and the energy it took to grow. I always thought I could kill any plant I touched but when I came across a farmer selling seedlings I decided to give it a shot. The process of plant growth has fascinated me ever since. The rewards of growing my own food has yet to be matched. My husband and I now run a homestead in Maine with a quarter acre garden, and are enjoying the fruits of our labor at every meal.

  4. I started growing food from the age of nine, I remember taking sprouting onions and garlic and planting them in buckets of soil to grow them for the leaves for my mum to use in her cooking. Being generally obsessed with nature and the natural world was I think for me the most influencing factor re: my interest in growing my own food.

    At the age of 15 I started growing and producing about 75% of our vegetable needs for my mum, my sister and myself. At the time I had started to do agriculture in school as one of my main subjects of my high school leaving certificate. So I brought all my newly gained knowledge home and planted up the whole back yard.

    When I started my nurse training at 18yrs there was no garden available so outside of growing a few herbs on the window sill my spare time was taken up with clubbing, etc, (well what would you expect).

    When I got married and moved into a home with a proper garden I restarted growing my own veges again approx 50% of our needs.

    Returning to the UK in 2002 put another break on my vegetable gardening but since 2003 I have started again with earnest with last year being my first descent year in the UK re: vegetable growing, with a good 70% success rate of all my crops.

    So for me I would say that I started proper vege growing at the age of 15years but gardening in the UK is a steep learning curve, grappling with changing seasons and slugs being my most frustrating adversaries.

    And since I got married minus a year due to country moving I would say I have been at it at least 11 years.

  5. As a newcomer to My Tiny Plot, I’d like to thank you for the site. It is terrific.
    I started gardening a lot later in life than the rest of you. I was in my mid-20s when healthy eating became a popular pursuit. There were no fresh herbs for sale near me, so I grew my own marjoram, thyme, sage, and the like from seed. It was great fun, and the only regret was that they were useless for the vegetable dying I was doing with my handspun wool yarn! I so wished they gave off bright exotic colurs to match their tastes.
    I picked up gardening again about twenty years ago. I have two miniscule spaces, front and back. Planted my first rose bush and cherry tree then…and am currently revamping the gardens with rosemarys, lavenders, mints, daphne, foxglove, and heucheras. The back garden is largely given over to the many types of birds who visit the seed and peanut feeders…so am a gardner and a birder now.
    It is wonderful that so many people have been growing things all their lives. Keep it up.

  6. About 3 years ago,I’d be 37! The thrill of eating what you grow and not giving ASDA your dosh. Now, I just wish I had a big garden or any garden. I’ve got a back yard that my daughter and I have managed to grow sunflowers,tomatoes,peppers, POTATOES (there easy!) peas,etc. Plus, I wiash my back yard in Merseyside had the sunshine of these bloggs in california.

  7. My grandparents grew all sorts and I was given responibility for the raspberries and alpine strawberries. And my main job was topping and tailing the gooseberries every year.

    I like to grow food now as a small rebellion against supermarkets. And because it tastes better.

  8. Hi,

    I first got the gardening bug in about 1997. I shared the office at work with a woman who was mad about flowers and her garden and was always talking about it.

    I started buying fresh flowers to put in a vase, then bought flowers for the yard (getting poor Hubby to take up flags so I could plant them properly!!). And then we got a tiny little greenhouse thing and I started growing my own. We also started growing cherry tomatoes.

    I then moved to Austria and only had a balcony for the next 9 years, so I only grew a few flowers from seed (Marigolds and the likes to go in balcony tubs). We have had tomatoes ever since the first year we grew them!!

    And then last year we found our dream house with a HUGE garden. I was convinced I would be filling it with flowers in no time but, strangely enough, the veggies came instead. I think that’s due to my Uncle Richard who has grown his own veggies for years and was sending me photos and telling me of his success.

    This year being our first, we decided to keep it small but it soon escalated and we ended up growing tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers, yellow peppers, courgettes, shallots, garlic, lettuce, carrots, spring onions, sugarsnap peas, pototates and strawberries. We have also bought a cherry tree and have a “grow your own mushrooms” set down in the cellar (which I highly recommend!!!). I have also got parsley, chives, peppermint and basil.

    When we moved into the house the garden already had grapes, raspberries, white raspberries, blackberries and an, as yet, unidentified tree with fruit so…. not so small after all!!!

    I just love going out and picking our own stuff and then eating it. We haven’t had to buy any salad stuff all through Summer and the courgettes, mushrooms and peppers have been great on the bbq too!!

    Sorry that was so long!!! I really have got the bug now though and I think it will stay with me for life.

  9. My grandfather and my father both grew a lot of vegetables so I was constantly aware of seasonal vegetables and gardening generallyas a child. I don’t remember growing anything of my own but I used to help my dad with the digging, planting, weeding – and best of picking! I also loved shelling peas at my grandparents – and I remember my grandfather grating his own horseradish at the bottom of the garden, wearing his gas mask! I used to keep a growbag on the flat roof outside one flat to grow a few things in but didn’t really grow very much myself till I had a proper garden. Even now a lot of it is in pots (tomatoes, peppers, aubergines) but I am gradually expanding the veg garden and will have leeks, brussels and swedes this winter I hope.

  10. As a child I was ‘allowed’ to do weeding and cut the edges of the grass (lucky me) while my parents and grandparents did all the important stuff like veg and flowers. But then, I was also ‘allowed’ to polish my gran’s brass door knocker and letterbox! They grew stuff because of the shortages in/after the Wars and it was just something they carried on doing passing it on down the generations. Now I do it because the veg just tastes better, there’s a whole heap of camaraderie at the allotment, it gets me out in the fresh air after spending my days in a cupboard (fondly called an office by the company), it saves me money, and I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t! Talking of which, only 5 hours to go and I’ll be picking beans, peas, radish, courgette, lettuce, dahlias, sweet peas……

  11. Both sets of grandparents farmed and one of my grandmothers loved to grow flowers. I followed her around every time we visited. My father introduced me to vegetable gardening when he retired. I was a young woman with a new baby. We’d go to his house and, indirectly, from watching him I learned. My husband grew up with a family garden so when we bought our first home he started a garden. Between the tow of us we have a fairly productive garden. Over the years it has evloved into our (almost) sole source of vegetables and flowers. We have so much at certain times of each growing season that we share with our neighbors. I check our garden every morning before work and spend more time in it in the afternoons. I helps me to separate myself from work. Experience and knowledge are the keys to ongoing success…and help from Mother Nature in the form of the elixer of life: Rain.

  12. My husband and I started this year. We are lucky enough to live next to a man who has been a professional gardener for 28 years. We basically started out of necessity. Times are tough, and we discovered that growing our own food really brought down the food bill. Everyone in our neighborhood grows their own food in one way or another. Basically, it was a matter of going with the flow, and learning how to save money in a recession. It’s worked out for us quite well. :) We will certainly keep doing this for the rest of our lives if possible.

  13. I got into vegetable gardening about 7 years ago. Although my father was a keen gardener, he was a flower man and I wasn’t allowed to touch or do anything in his domain.

    I’ve no idea where my desire to grow vegetables sprang from, but I progressed from plants on an rented apartment windowsill to square foot gardening in movable troughs in a rented house to an allotment and finally bought a house with a very big back garden and a vegetable plot.

    No-one else in my family grows fruit and veg at all.

  14. Hi Gill,

    I was first introduced to gardening at the age of 3 (and yes I remember it well lol) by my father who in turn was taught by his grandfather. They were a HUGE family, 16 kids as well as a couple of aunts and uncles and grandparents all living under one roof and depended a lot on their big garden to sustain them especially through the depression. I have been gardening for over 40 years, it is what brings me peace in a hectic world. I’ve even done it to earn money, but I find it more satisfying when I do it for fun and not for money.

    The first thing I recall growing on my own was beans, although I know from what my father tells me I grew other vegetables as well. Beans for some reason really stuck in my head, for one because you could pick and eat them right there in the garden and not have to wait for them to be cooked so I could make the direct connection. Plus not being a root crop made it easier to observe it’s growth, I could see the beans getting bigger on a daily basis. My father would snack on everything in the garden as he worked, which always astonished me as a kid the things he would eat raw. It allowed him to stay out there and keep working a lot longer that way as well.

    Now I raise a lot of food for canning, drying and freezing, for my husband and I, all organic (I’ve done that since I was 14, even fighting against my fathers non organic methods back then). I’ve landscaped my back yard and I love my fruits and flowers too. Presently I’m on an H kick, Hebes, Hellebores, Heucheras and Hostas lol.

    Love your blog, have been reading it for a couple of years. I wish some of the pictures from when you first started were still up though so I could see all the progress and understand some of the explanations better.

    Thanks for the great questions,


  15. I managed to kill various plants as a child. Everyone in my family was interested in gardening in some way some I’m sure that this rubs off. I only got really interested when I had my own garden. Once I managed to grow one thing I just couldn’t stop. It really bugs me when people refuse to plant things, especially when they have a huge garden. I’m forever trying to spread the gardening bug to my friends but some of them stubbornly refuse to catch it, I won’t give up though. They shall continue to recieve plants!

  16. My uncle Walter grew beautiful pinks and always gave me a big bunch as a child, whenever we went to see him, so I think that’s when I first started thinking about growing plants and also I had another Uncle Walter in Wales who grew the most beautiful roses, they smelt lovely and had a vegetable patch at the back of his house. As well my mother also encourage me to grow things in degradable pots as we only had a back yard. Now I have a garden and thats probably what attracted me tho this house, as it is a large back garden.

  17. The first gardening I really remember doing where I was an active participant was when I was about four. I had my own two tomato plants alongside my Grand dad’s. Even today the smell of tomato plants takes me back to that little backyard in New Zealand with my Grand dad and the beautiful swishy tomatoes that were eaten fresh from the vine.


  18. My dad always had a garden but didn’t really try to introduce me to it until I was 12 or so and only to weed. I got into gardening when I was an adult, but I developed a true love for it when my husband and I bought our house five years ago–I garden/landscape and he watches me with smiles!!!!

  19. I was 27 when I started gardening. It was purely by chance that I became interested in having an allotment but I have recently discovered that my family have a history of keen gardeners too. Must be in the blood!
    I started working on my friend’s allotment in January 2006 after he received a letter from the committee telling him to sort out his plot or risk being kicked off. His gardening partner had moved to Bristol and he couldn’t cope with the plot on his own. I said I would help out for a while to see if I enjoyed it and I’m still there now, 4 years later. :)

    We love it!!

  20. Grew a row of carrots aged 11 and thought it was neat. Then had 24 years of educating myself, growing up and working, which rather precluded further horticultural experimentation. Have spent the last six years catching up where I left off…

  21. I grow because being able to pop out to pick my dinner reminds me of my childhood days when my gran would pop out to to pick things like chayote and yard long beans for dinner, and hack down a stem of sugar cane as a treat for me.

    I’ve always loved flowers and the first time we moved into a house with a garden was when I was 18. I helped my mum with the garden, and my dad dallied with growing a few toms and peas here and there.

    When I bought my first place, the first thing I did was to put in a mini veggie patch (only 1m2). This year we’ve moved into a house with a *slightly* bigger garden and I have a whole 5m2 to play with(!).

  22. My Grandpa grew all his own veg and herbs and when I was tiny when I went to visit, it was my job to pick the mint and chop it for lunch. I had a special tiny knife with a beautiful little wooden handle and my Grandma knew I loved chopping the mint so she always tried to cook lamb when I visited. I also used to shell the peas and pick gooseberries & blackcurrants for puddings. Every time I pick mint or blackcurrants in my own garden I think of them and the happy memories. It is amazing how the fragrance of food can stir the images of childhood. I was also the one who skipped down to the bottom of the garden to put the peelings etc into the compost heap which I remember so vividly that composting now for me is probably one of my most rewarding parts of veg gardening!!

  23. It’s so great to hear how people got into growing. There seems to be a definite theme running through most stories where someone introduced you to gardening quite early on, either as an onlooker or an active participant. It’s so important to share our passion with others to keep the growing alive!

  24. I am 24, and I have only very recently begun gardening. Growing up, my parents always spent a great deal of time working on the landscaping around our various homes and taking weekend trips to local nurseries. I had absolutely no interest in it. None. The flowers attracted bugs, occasionally my father made me weed – which was the worse crime known to man – , and I thought marigolds smelled horrible. The one time I tried growing something – radishes – raccoons ate them.

    And then I went to college, joined the service, and ended up stationed in the UK. I’m now living in my first house, with my first yard. And as soon as the warm weather hit I started planting and weeding like there was no tomorrow. There is nothing I enjoy more than puttering around in my garden. I look forward to weeding in the hot sun and the way my fingers smell of marigolds after I deadhead them.

  25. Dear Gillian,

    From my birth I lived in a house with a rather large garden. My parents were/are anything but gardeners, alas. But: when I was 6 or 7 we had to grow something in class. I watched with amazement when the white bean put on wet cotton balls in a saucer grew and grew and grew. We never got to the stage when the plant started to make beans by itself, but it was a miracle for me. It is one of my most vivid childhood memories.
    There was only one person in my family who liked gardening: ny grandmother, which unfortunately I saw very rarely, was an avid gardener. I remember visiting her when I was about 14, and still know the name of the flower she then showed me: thunbergia alata (in Dutch: Suzanne with the brown eyes). From the moment that I lived by myself, I bought the nicest bouquets, and later loved cutting wild flowers. Only around my 30th I started gardening. One of the extra’s I recognised in the man which later became my husband was that he also liked gardening. When we moved into a farmhouse with 1500 m2 of garden, we made a near profession of it. We later moved to an estate where we have a second job tending the 30,000m2, and4 years ago started a nice kitchen garden which is now our favourtite spot. With the help of a few volunteers we try to achieve the 100 varieties mark, and believe that with a bit of planning (not my strongest point)we can achieve this next year.

    (Btw: you are most welcome to visit us and look at a continental kitchen garden, and are invited to stay if that suits you!)

  26. I just realize I left out a significant part.
    When I was about 27 I lived on a farmhouse – I did nothing with the garden then I am afraid. But a dear friend nearby was a farmers’ daughter who only spend the summer in the beautiful neighbourhood along a river in a nature reserve. The rest of the year she was forced to live in Kuwait – without a garden. In the few months she had she grew veggies and potatoes amidst the flowers, nothing formal, in her very large garden. I was always welcome for dinner and loved the fact that before cooking she just went in the garden and picked her salad, carrots, potatoes etc.

    This must be what set me off to start my own kitchen garden years later!

  27. My grandmother’s backyard garden right next to the giant Fisher Body Auto plant on East 140 St. in Cleveland, Ohio USA was a little oasis in a bit of a grimy neighborhood (because of the manufacturing going on there). My memory is of being small – 3 or 4 years old – standing in the garden, the factory in the background and is giving me cherry tomatoes to eat. I wasn’t sure I liked the taste at first, but because they were from her I ate them. My favorite gardening experience to this day is when I get home from work and walk the few feet to my garden and pick cherry tomatoes and eat them on the spot. Thank you gran for being my gardening hero.

  28. Greetings everyone! I am new here. Just want to greet you :)