This week The Secret Garden on-line shop were able to show you a new collection of seeds created by Dee of Greenside Up. This new Grow Your Own range of seeds offers a practical, environmentally friendly, attractive gift solution that’s ideal for gardeners, grow your own enthusiasts, chefs and home-brewers alike.
Does that sound a bit salesy? If so I apologise, for this new venture that I’m in the midst of takes me to places I’m not very familiar with and I’m learning on my feet!
For those of you that have ever clicked on my website tabs above or who are regular blog readers, you’ll know that for the past three years I’ve been doing my best to help and encourage people to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
My small business started by offering advice to people in their own gardens, which in turn led to the provision of weekly indoor workshops. This was followed by hands on gardening and tutoring in community and country house gardens, helping teenagers to sow and grow, and more recently showing a large group of afterschool club kids how to garden at a family resource centre.
In amongst that there’s been a bit of garden design, project management, writing and raised bed making (thanks to the skills of hubby Ian). If I’m pushed I’ll also stand up and talk to groups about grow your own and community gardening, though I’m still trying to tick the confidence box that comes with the art of public speaking (why it should seem any different to talking and teaching a class beats me)!
So why venture into the craft and retail market with all that bubbling along? Is that not enough to keep a working mum going for the time being?
Well no….not if you’re working at something you love and are passionate about. However busy or challenging it is, you never stop thinking about ways you can improve upon your vocation. Showing people how to grow vegetables, watching their gardens develop and seeing the delight upon their faces when they start to harvest produce they’ve planted, tended and grown is such a rewarding experience! There’s a little voice inside my head that shouts
“Why aren’t more of you doing it!?”
I think I can answer that one as it’s something I’ve been so short of myself this year… time! It takes time to grow your own – how much time depends upon how much you grow… it doesn’t take long to sow a few seeds, pull a few weeds or water a few plants but it takes a bucket load of time if you have half a field of vegetables that you’re trying to tend to on your own (which is why I’m such a fan of community gardens as they share all the work!)
So one of my challenges when I was trying to figure out how I could encourage and help more people to grow their own was how to address the challenge of time. In the end, in developing this gift idea, my thoughts turned back to the first thing I teach in my workshops:
“KISS – KEEP IT SMALL AND SIMPLE”
Most of the seeds in the range can be grown in small gardens and some entirely in containers. The squashes, flowers and herbs can be grown in amongst flowers in beds and borders so you don’t need to go out and create a vegetable garden especially for these seeds, and the chillies can be grown in pots indoors on windowsills if you don’t have a polytunnel or greenhouse. The Grow Your Own Wine range needs a bit more space if you choose to grow the beetroot or parsnip wine, but might just be the little push you needed to get you outside to dig that vegetable bed you’ve been talking about creating for some time now ~ drinking wine made from ingredients that you’ve grown from seed is indescribable, and almost beats the pleasure of taking the first bite out of your first home-grown carrot!
The people behind the inspiration and a little housekeeping…
A project like this generally doesn’t come together with one person working alone and indeed, it may not have happened at all if I hadn’t had helping hands (or ears) with me along the way.
The initial spark started way back at Christmas when I ran a blog competition with the winners receiving a variety of chilli seeds. I was delighted to read that Nessa of Nessa’s Family Kitchen had sown her seeds when she tweeted a photo:
Following on from that, in the New Year I met up with three lovely women who I met on twitter and who have since become very supportive and special real life friends – Susan from Vibrant Ireland, Roisin from Creative Dynamix and Catherine from Foxglove Lane. We try to meet every month or two and when we do we often bring a little gift of friendship. My gift at the Thomastown lunch was the Christmas chillies. As the girls opened the envelopes they exclaimed, “you should sell these, what a great idea!” That was all I needed to hear.
Over the following months several people have helped me with the gift range. First and foremost is Jim Juby, friend and global seed expert who has advised and generously shared his advice and contacts so that I can bring you the very best of seeds. Denis Coleman from Innochan Solutions, (who’s also a packaging expert extraordinaire) has advised on the style and was the man behind the QR Code idea that links the seeds to blog posts I’ve written. Bernie McCoy has been a star – not only did she take all the beautiful product photographs you can see in this post that have brought these seed gifts to virtual life, Bernie has also given me excellent mentoring advice whenever our children get together for play dates.
My best friend Elaine has read, proof read, given me card, paper, stamping and cutting advice as well as counted and dried lavender blossoms from her garden that will be included in all the gardening gift box sets. Elaine’s husband Pat gave invaluable advice on branding and I’m so grateful for them being there and encouraging me when at times I was thinking about shelving the idea.
Lastly, it’s unlikely that these gift cards would be available to you now without the support of Brian and Sarah of the Secret Garden Centre who’ve been the first to offer them for sale on their online shop. Brian’s retail advice has been invaluable and after consultations with Brian and then Eamon of The Arboretum Garden Centre, one of the next jobs on the list is to organise stands so that the gift cards can be sold at garden centres and other retail centres around Ireland.
If you’d like to find out more, click the button below to read about the contents of the individual items. All items in the range will be available by the end of the week.