Green Gardener’s Guild Chat With: @theaccidental_gardeners

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Welcome back to another edition of our Green Gardener’s Guild – we’re delighted to have you back!

As we move ever closer to winter, we are all looking for ways to keep our gardens safe and protected from the frost. Whether that is by sheltering those more fragile plants or laying down some Coco Chip coir mulch, we’re all still getting out there to enjoy our green spaces! Even as the cold creeps in, there is still plenty of work to be done around our gardens – but right now, it’s time to take a short break and hear from some of our wonderful Green Gardeners – Vici and Andy from @theaccidental_gardeners on Instagram.

Let’s get started and sit down with our cups of tea to hear all about Vici and Andy’s garden. Take it away and tell us all about yourselves and your garden!

“We moved into the cottage at the start of Spring 2017. The garden at the time was pretty much a blank space apart from a mature Sycamore and three mature Camellias. There was a deep empty border backed by an old brick wall and a pond that was so overgrown we didn’t even realise it was there. With absolutely no experience of gardening, we randomly did the right thing and did absolutely nothing for a whole year to see what came up naturally. We were surprised to find the answer was just Bluebells and a huge flowering Yucca. Fast forward a couple of years and the brick border, being an absolute suntrap, is our cut flower border.

We’ve tried to keep the garden tied to the house by incorporating typical cottage garden planting. We’ve added a Veg Trug at the back to try and grow a small amount of produce. We feel incredibly lucky to have the space that we do have. It also became evident quite quickly that the soil here is the perfect growing medium. Last year we found out that the previous person who lived here was a passionate gardener and veg grower, well known in our village for his produce and flowers. Our only hope is that we do him justice as custodians of this growing space.

We really love growing cut flowers, not only for their seasonal colour, but also for drying and pressing to prolong the enjoyment of their beauty. We have started to grow a very small amount of Veg and herbs over the last year. I think we’re a bit late to the homegrown veg party, but I guess we all have to start somewhere! It’s definitely not all work here though. We love nothing more than relaxing in the garden on a Summer evening while Roxy (our dog) chases away the pigeons.“

Though we’re far from those lovely summer days (we know, we miss them too in the middle of all the rain and wind of Autumn!), it’s never too early to plan ahead in your garden. Autumn seed sowing can prepare a number of seedlings for a springtime outdoor sow, and if you have access to a greenhouse, why not try using Coco Grow+ seeding compost to start on some more brand new plants for your next full growing season?

When we asked Vici and Andy what types of gardener they’d likely call themselves, and whether they tend to the garden solo or together, they said: ”

If you’d asked us this question three years ago the answer would have been completely different. Previously I would have said we were just gardeners who focused on having a nice lawn. Now, we’re definitely classed as daily gardeners. It’s funny how you find something to do on a daily basis, even in the depths of winter. I’d say we are avid amateur gardeners, if that makes sense. We’ve only been gardening since the first lockdown but I think when you find your real passion in life, you learn so quickly. I have enrolled on an RHS distance learning course because I love learning about the theory behind things.

Both Andy and I garden together. Andy’s more of a tidier, but he has a great eye for knowing where new plants would look best. I’d like to say Roxy helps in the garden. I suppose if you class falling asleep on the flower beds as help then she’s great at that.”

(At least coco coir is pet friendly for those little moments of sleepy, snoozy pet time!)

Now it’s time for one of our favourite questions – all about what Vici and Andy love most about gardening, alongside the challenges they face most. We all have differences in the ways our gardens react to our tending, and with so many different soil types out there across the country, all of our results vary. Trial and error is the name of the game! Vici told us: “The thing we enjoy most about gardening is the connection with nature. I don’t think anything else I’ve ever done has given me more of an understanding and respect for the natural world around us. Gardening not only helps you to appreciate nature, but I think it makes you notice the minute things that you’d probably otherwise miss. Things like the fascinating way that Dahlias bloom or how different plants disperse their seeds.

I think the biggest challenge for us when gardening is time, which rings true for a lot of people who work full time. I am fortunate enough to work from home, so I do try and get out there in my lunch break but it’s not always possible. Sometimes you can feel a bit behind with all the gardening jobs that need doing, but the key is not to let this bother you. I’ve planted my bulbs much later than recommended before and they’ve still put on a fabulous Spring display. At the beginning of this year I was panicking that I hadn’t started off my annual seeds early enough, but they still performed well. So, although time is our biggest challenge, things always have a way of working out anyway.”

Time is always a relatable challenge we face, what with how few sunny days we can get year on year too! Ahh, the British weather… But even though they face challenges, doesn’t their garden look beautiful? We’d certainly rate it highly, but when we asked what Vici and Andy would rate their garden out of 10, they replied: “I’m going to say 7 on this one. I don’t think we’d ever be able to score it 10 because, like all gardeners, there is always something you want to change. I’m not sure I’d necessarily envy the person who would score their garden a 10 because what do you do next? I suppose just enjoying it would be the answer. Maybe one day we’ll be in that position and we can just relax. But then again, I love the trial and error/experimental side of gardening. I don’t think that will ever change.”

When we chat with the Green Gardener’s Guild, and with our favourite gardeners, we also like to talk about sustainability. As coconut coir is one of the most sustainable compost options on the market, we like to bring the conversation about peat-free gardening wherever we can. The more gardeners helping to leave our peatlands alone, the better!

When we asked about sustainable gardening, Vici said: “We definitely consider ourselves sustainable gardeners. I think the two come hand in hand when you have that respect for the natural world that comes from gardening. Personally I think the one single biggest thing any gardener can do to be more sustainable is to stop using peat. That has to be top of the list, and easily achievable. Something else we feel quite strongly about is eliminating the use of pesticides and weedkillers. I remember seeing grass verges being sprayed all the time as a child with no regard for what was being killed and where those chemicals were ending up. As far as garden pests go, no one is immune to this. Our Lupins were absolutely decimated by Aphids this year, but that’s just nature. Eventually the predators came along and the Lupins put on a humble display. So I guess my little hint is to step away from the chemicals and believe in the process of nature.”

Keeping harmful chemicals out of your garden is an extremely important step that we also believe in. Organic, vegan gardening can still produce effective results as long as we keep our gardens free from anything that should not be there. Our products are free of those nasty chemicals, even in our Coco Boost fertilised multipurpose compost. It just makes sense to keep nature as, well, natural as possible!

Vici and Andy have used our coir in their garden before, and we were keen to ask if they had ever used any peat-free compost before trying it. “Actually, no. I had used a “reduced peat” compost from the garden centre, but Coco&Coir is an absolute game changer for us! I love everything about it. One of the best things about it for me, apart from it being peat-free, is the fact it’s so easy to store. Because of where we live, we can’t park near to our house. Carrying huge bags of compost round to our garden is genuinely back-breaking! I love the fact that Coco&Coir comes in easy to carry, light blocks. Meaning we can store loads of it in our shed and then just rehydrate what we need.”

(Take a look at their process of using some of our coir here!)

Even better, when we asked if Vici and Andy are now on board with spreading the good word about going peat-free, they said: “We’ll tell anyone that listens about going peat-free in the garden. I think a common myth is that peat-free growing materials are just not as good as peat. I don’t agree with this at all. As fairly new gardeners we only used peat for a very short period of time and switched quite early on to Coir. All of our seeds germinate really well in Coir, and honestly I never managed to keep cuttings alive until I used Coir. More importantly, going peat-free means you are contributing to protecting peatlands and healing climate change. I know we all feel that one person can’t make a difference but together, as responsible gardeners, we absolutely can!”

Welcome to the peat-free gardening life!

To finish off our questions, we once again were pleased to ask our favourite question – asking just what kind of plant Vici and Andy would love to be able to grow if the British weather and climate allowed: “Definitely citrus fruit. I’d love to grow a selection of them in large terracotta pots on the patio. They’d do so well here in Summer, but we just don’t have any space in the cottage to bring them in for winter. I’m not saying I drink a lot of G&T, but to be able to slice my own citrus fruit to garnish it would be a dream.”

(Watch this space, because something related to Citrus plants is coming on the horizon here at Coco&Coir… !)

A huge thank-you to Vici and Andy for taking time out of their garden to chat with us. We are sure that everyone reading appreciates your wonderful insights into all of your gardening advice! Follow their gardening adventures over on Instagram to keep up with all of their new projects.

If you would like to send your stories to the Green Gardener’s Guild, get in touch – we’ll even send you £10-worth of loyalty credits for any stories submitted that we publish!#

Until next time, Green Gardeners!