Why Hire a Garden Coach?

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You may be asking yourself “a garden coach? Who needs that? Can’t I just throw some seeds in the ground and see what happens?”

And to that question, I say “yes, of course you can! I always tell my clients that there are no gardening failures; only experience.”

I didn’t have a garden coach. I didn’t know they existed. In fact, I’m still not sure that there are many of us. I’m the first person I know of in my area who does it, for sure! But I do know this….

I killed my first three gardens.

That is not hyperbole.  I had to try gardening in four separate years before I actually harvested any food for my family. And you’d better believe I invested a lot of time and money into each of those gardens that didn’t end up yielding anything edible.

After killing my third garden, I resigned myself to taking a break from gardening. After all, I told myself, “I work for a farm. I have access to fresh produce so it’s not like I need to grow my own.”

But I love plants, and a couple years later my name was taken off the waiting list for a plot at a local community garden. I gladly agreed to take on the plot, but I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to learn what I was doing wrong. After all, I had completed internships and apprenticeships on production farms - I had helped grow produce for thousands of families! Surely I could grow my own in a 4 x 10 raised bed?

This time, my research paid off - I actually harvested food for my family! In fact, I won a community gardener award for “most variety of produce grown.” After killing my first three gardens, I felt wicked proud of myself. And growing in a community of gardeners was a much better feeling than going it alone.

The following year, I won an award for growing the most pounds of produce out of any community gardener in my city - 180 pounds of produce from a 4x10 raised bed!

As you can see, I learned by a lot of experience, research, and trial and error. And I’m certain that the majority of gardeners don’t have to kill their first three gardens in order to get satisfying harvests. If I had the proper guidance, I would have been successful a lot sooner!

Here are some reasons to hire a gardening coach:

Four years after I planted my first garden, I harvested this, and it was oh-so-satisfying. A coach can help you get results sooner.

Four years after I planted my first garden, I harvested this, and it was oh-so-satisfying. A coach can help you get results sooner.

Number 1: You are putting in a lot of time, money, or effort, and not feeling satisfied with your harvests.

DIY gardening advice can be found everywhere, thanks to Pinterest, YouTube, and many amazing bloggers. And sometimes with that comes...an abundance of conflicting advice. Sometimes it seems like gardening can be a lot like parenting - there are many conflicting styles and techniques, which vary according to culture, region, and the particular gardener. Many techniques can yield good results, but how do you know which will do so for YOU, and make most sense for your space, skill, climate, and personal food preferences? This is where a garden coach can come in handy.

Think of it like going to the gym. You can certainly learn a lot about how to lift weights from videos, asking your friends, and attending classes. Some people do fine designing their own program. But if you have a specific performance goal you are struggling to meet without injury and frustration, a coach can help give you direction and a solid action plan to work towards that goal.

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And one thing that took me a while to realize: just like in the diet and fitness industry, there is a lot of gardening advice out there that is based on pseudoscience. How do you know which information will be useful, and which will be a waste of time, money, and effort? A good coach can help you focus on the information and techniques that are relevant to YOU and your garden space and goals.

Number 2: You are brand new to gardening, and want to avoid wasting time, money, and effort during the learning process.

Everything that applies to the folks I described above applies to you too....you are just seeking assistance and direction earlier in the process. Kudos to you; you are way ahead of where I was as a beginning gardener!

Number 3: You are brand new to gardening, and are not sure where to begin!

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Many brand new gardeners approach their first gardens with overwhelm or trepidation, or a combination of both. And even if you are feeling confident, you may have a lot of questions: is my soil okay for growing? What do I need to do to get my space ready? What grows in my partially-sunny yard? When can I plant it? Do I buy seeds or transplants? What tools do I need? I get that gardening can be a lifetime of learning, but what do I need to know to get started?

Needless to say, a coach can help with the guidance and reassurance you need to get started.

Number 4: You learn by exposure, watching and doing.

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As a species, we humans learn skills by exposure, watching, and doing; it is much more difficult to learn a skill just by reading about it! As such, sometimes we need coaches for things we think “should” come naturally to us.

Take breastfeeding. Ask mothers who attempted breastfeeding whether it was easy for them in the beginning. Most will tell you that they were surprised how something that was supposed to be “natural” felt so forced and difficult. In the past, it was likely that mothers and grandmothers could help. Nowadays, we have lactation consultants, since many mothers and grandmothers no longer have that knowledge and skill.

In some rural cultures, growing food is a more common skill, because it is part of the culture and children see their families and neighbors doing it for as long as they can remember. If you are an adult and have never tried growing your own food, and have never been around people growing, it’s completely natural not to know what that looks like or where to begin. And it’s smart to ask for help! 

Number 5: You want your family to understand where food comes from, and you can’t teach what you don’t know.

It was insanely satisfying to serve hamburgers to a four year old with veggies that we grew together in our garden!

It was insanely satisfying to serve hamburgers to a four year old with veggies that we grew together in our garden!

Children’s minds are like sponges, and what they learn early in life can influence their attitudes and health throughout their lives. Many parents want their kids to learn values and skills such as empathy, patience, effort, focus, planning, and simply that food comes from the ground before it gets to the grocery store! And sometimes we can feel a little lost, which is natural. After all, how can we teach our children skills that we don’t yet have ourselves?

A garden coach can help guide your whole family through the learning process, while taking the planning and stress off your plate. (And don't even get me started on how children are more likely to listen to a Farmer than they are to their parents, amirite?!)

My goal as a coach is to help my clients grow their own food in a way that is enjoyable to them, and will not have them working harder than they have to. Growing your own food doesn’t have to be an unattainable goal.

I offer garden coaching and planning services, both remotely as well as in person in the Merrimack Valley. Want help in your growing adventure? Drop me a line!

Happy Growing,

Bethany

Bethany Bellingham