In an extract from her new book, The Climate Change Resilient Vegetable Garden, Kim Stoddart explains why building confidence and resilience in yourself (and your garden) is key…

I’ve been a smallholder in the beautiful wild west of Wales for 14 years, and I have written for The Country Smallholder magazine for many of them, documenting my experiences of adventuring with low cost, more resilient ways of growing food. What started with my adventures attempting to garden entirely for free in The Guardian, has transformed into a mission to help gardeners everywhere become more resilient. I’m now editor of sister publication, Amateur Gardening magazine and it is a real pleasure to be back on these pages sharing with you some of the tips, tactics and tales from my latest book which aims to offer hope for the future as well as the on-the-ground savvy solutions to help us all cope with our changing climate.

We are living through unprecedented times as the long-predicted greater extremes of weather create more challenging on-the-ground growing conditions. This, combined with the recent pandemic, the rising cost of living, and many ongoing threats, mean that it’s harder and harder to feel completely okay right now, let alone to make the necessary adaptions to your outside space to shore up the weather defences.This is why gardening in a climate change–savvy way is as much about connection and resilience in the gardener as it is the actual vegetable garden itself. It’s about developing an innate, inner confidence and empowerment to think on your feet, to make decisions based around the weather at the given moment, and to break gardening rules if they require breaking.

It’s also about working with, and learning from, others, the individual growing conditions where you live, and the natural world at large. We are all in this together.

Time and time again, in the courses that I teach, I have gardeners of all levels of experience putting themselves and their abilities down. They talk about their failures rather than their successes, even when they’ve gardened for a very long time. Why is this? I believe that over the years, with our reliance on buying a lot of what we need and generally being told how we should (and shouldn’t) garden, our confidence has dwindled in many ways. Certainly this is true when compared to our much hardier foremothers and fathers, who were able to grow food before there were multiple online purchasing options at our disposal twenty-four seven.

This article extract was taken from the June 2024 edition of The Country Smallholder. To read the article in full, you can buy the issue here.

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