Surprised at inaction of neighbours... how to get them digging?

I was lucky enough to get some bulk bags of compost delivered yesterday and out the front shoveling it into a wheelie bin for transport through the house (as you do) it occurred to me how utterly quiet it is. I’m not hearing any activity from other gardens or seeing any one doing anything. I spoke to one neighbour who has a veg patch who said he might plant some potatoes, but is busy planting flowers in a border. I spoke to the other side who has lawn and a long disused border with nothing in it which could be re-purposed but he is doing nothing. Both sides are middle aged with teenage kids probably going stir crazy and getting unfit indoors… Do they think we’ll be back to normal in a few weeks?

Anyone had success getting neighbours onboard with digging for victory? Any neighbourhood campaigns going on?

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You are really beginning to think like a gardener! Anytime I see a bare piece of land it becomes a blank canvas for veg! My teen (16) helps me in the garden but it is not really mega interested until it comes to eating it. With the shut down of seed suppliers due to over run I have split my seed store and sent packets via the old fashioned post to the other side of town to encourage a couple of other families. I aim to have a paste table out of the front of our house with free plants to take in the next 3 weeks but as yet they are all to small but other than that have seen little activity…


The garden centre who delivered my compost has stopped taking orders for delivery as well and of course people can’t visit them so that will account for some lack of action but i’ve just checked and Amazon is still showing spade, rakes and seeds for sale at normal looking prices.

But it all goes to show how woefully prepared we are for interruptions to our supply chains, even our minds are not prepared. I supposed in the 1940s it was way more common for people to grow veg, maybe every other house did and the one not doing it would feel the odd one out rather than me wondering if my neighbours think i’ve gone nuts. Everyone would have had more neighbours to borrow seeds and equipment from as well.

I saw a government page suggesting getting half our food from abroad meant it spread the risk and it therefore enhanced our security. Hopefully this crisis will lead to a revision of that globalist thinking and getting more local minded.

Absolutely, but the difficulty with this is that during the war you could all get together, that was probably the best bit, that barriers came down, this is the opposite so we can’t go round to neighbours down the street and offer to help etc in their gardens and may be because of the social distancing people are confused as to what to do…

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true, and confusing advice has been given, i’ve seen where people have been told its ok to open their windows but not to go outside.

I haven’t heard that but when my husband and I go out for a walk people we have known for years practically jump in the bushes at the other side of the lane, it is all so strange and disconcerting and you don’t know wether to speak to people as you don’t know if they want to talk from their 2 metres away etc, all so odd…

Hi. I just joined. I hope you don’t mind me jumping in.

I’m having a hard time understanding how people see food. Looking at the droughts and floods in California, the problems farmers are having in the mid west, a warming climate, a predicted collapse of our ocean ecosystems this decade, and a dependency on overseas imports, how are people still not concerned about our food supply? I haven’t even gotten to Corvid-19! Do they think the food magically appears on the shelves each nght?

I was really happy to see this site. I’ve been thinking for awhile that we need to return the the concept of victory gardens. We should all try to grow some of our own food. Our communities and state and local laws need to support this effort.


I guess that so long as the Supermarkets replenish their shelves, a lot folk as still in denial as to the combined effects of global climate changes and the potentially catastrophic economic effects of this virus which both very much include the food chain. UK had not been sufficiently food secure for a long time - we even paid farmers to set land aside in previous years - getting that land back into production is a no-brainer in my opinion. Sorry to hear of the US problems (welcome to the forum, by the way). I’m possibly one of the lucky ones. We moved to this house exactly a year ago and I started to plan and create a veg garden from day one. Today I just finished off the last of my beds giving me 80ft of 4ft 6ins beds ready for my seedlings. It didn’t start out as a ‘victory garden’ - just one to get better taste and quality and, by next year, at a better price, and to keep an OAP out of mischief! I just feel blessed that I got a head start.


Wow! 80ft of beds, that would have been a lot of mischief!

Yes prices are going to go up thats for sure even if availability is only minimally effected in this part of the world. Everything has been cheap the last few decades but all the knock-on effects on top of each other for this global crisis is 100% positively going to have major impacts down the road that we’re not feeling yet. But it seems like most people think that if they sit through the lockdown for 3 weeks it will be over. So far less than 100,000 cases in the UK from the 66 million population and look how much disruption it has caused. This has a long way to go yet. So to that end I’ve given my neighbours some seeds now so they are obliged to get planting :wink:

I’ve been obliged to grow my own if I want any variety. My nearest supermarket is a 30 minute drive away and it has a very limited variety of produce but I suppose they only stock what the majority of their customers buy. So potatoes, carrots, leeks, onions, cabbages, tomatoes, lettuces and courgettes is about it. For something completely radical, like pak choy, I have to drive over an hour to a super-greengrocer. It shocks me really because I have never seen seed catalogues like the one I get here. Hundreds of different types of vegetables and sometimes pages of varieties. Perhaps it comes down to regional tastes? As I mentioned on another post, just about everyone here has a veg patch but with such a blinkered planting.

Don’t know where ‘here’ is but I live in an area in the UK where most of the folk are truly lovely neighbours but regard their gardens as simply for decoration and why not? Looking up on Google Earth confirms this. In normal times, perhaps they should be so but these are far from normal times. Folks won’t take a spade or fork to their lawns or borders until they ‘feel the pinch’. Currently, fresh food is flowing. It is when the economy starts to break down and the food chain starts to de-stabilise that they may get the message. Let’s pray that the seed companies manage to re-stock across the board - seeds are the start of everything else. I feel for AlliG. The important thing - if you are to grow - is to choose stuff that you really want to eat as basic and not to get mesmerised by catalogues. The days of exotic choices will return in due course. In the meantime, we might all learn to live more simply. Ask local gardeners what grows best in your area and seek out seeds to replicate that according to your family’s tastes. Also pray for those who only have concrete yards or small balconies - or nowhere at all to grow at all. You can’t feed yourself or a family from a window-sill.

Don’t ask!!
Easter reminds us the God’s love and mercy overrules mischief - thank goodness!

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Talking of windowsills all this is taking me back to my childhood with less than well off parents growing alfalfa and mung bean sprouts continually for cheese sandwiches etc. So i’ve got a load of that in. We don’t have a TV but I wonder has there been any increase in programming encouraging growing your own? I have a feeling its not spoken of as much as it should be as it might be considered a negative view, defeatist, as though admitting we won’t be beating this in a few weeks and no one wants to hear that. I don’t expect pending food shortages will be admitted until well past the planting season…

Gardeners world is addressing this pretty well with Adam Frost growing all sorts of veg but I haven’t seen anything else as yet on the tv, although what was interesting this morning was that the RHS put out a piece in the daily telegraph (sorry read it on line and it won’t let me link it) saying that composting was up 500% and their pages had been deluged…So that may be an online trend…

I think the people being confused as to what they are doing is exactly right! My garden is right next to a park and many people walk by it in the neighborhood. When I’m working in the garden lately, I’ve been getting so many questions from people walking by:

“Is it too early to plant tomatoes?”
“What kind of fertilizer should I use?”
“I bought some seeds but I don’t really know how to start…”

It’s only my second year with a “real” vegetable garden (after vaguely paying attention to my parents’ and grandparents’ gardens) so I feel like I have limited knowledge. But after talking to neighbors, I’ve realized I at least know enough to give neighbors confidence to start their own projects. Plus when I’m behind my garden deer fence, I’m more than six feet away from the path, so people feel comfortable at that distance having a conversation.

I think the only thing that can really inspire neighbors is them seeing the example. My husband and I have been making some big changes in the yard and garden landscaping this year and everyone sees us doing the work ourselves. Our neighbors have been really positive and supportive and many of them say it inspires them to get out and working on theirs. If they were smaller changes, I don’t necessarily know if people would notice as much, but I’m glad it brings us together with people even if we can’t get up close and personal.


That is a lovely way of looking at it and I am sure you are inspiring your neighbours…

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my experience is one side are now doing more than they said they usual do while on the other side they have some new home-made gym equipment to do keep fit on their lawn, rather than keeping fit digging up the lawn. One practical reason, or selfish thought depending on how you look at it, is the more the neighbours are growing themselves the less they will be taking from us later if things get that bad. That’s the goal of self sufficiency or self reliance though, simply not being a burden on others. I don’t want to be in that position and ideally I don’t want the people around me to be in that position as we won’t be able to grow enough even to feed ourselves.

Funny enough, I was just talking a few days ago to the owner of my gym about why I don’t do the new live online weekend workouts and I was laughing because I had to explain to him the amount of work I was doing in the garden. In the past 3 weeks I had exhausted myself tilling, hoeing, moving brick, edging new beds, forming an herb spiral, taking down a tree with my husband, and taking an axe to some roots. I love the gym and still do short workouts before going to work on the weekdays (I’m essential :frowning: ), but gardening is what is keeping me the most in shape lately.

A lot of people are so focused on keeping things “normal” that I don’t think they’re thinking too far into the future. For a lot of people “normal” is going to the gym, so I can see how logically the next step is buying workout equipment. If gardening isn’t a “normal” interest of theirs, of course their thoughts are probably not going to extend to growing all of their own food. To them even sticking just a few plants in the ground is probably a huge stretch to their “normal” life. It really is a big change in mindset, that I don’t think gardeners can understand as much.

I’m lucky that there are a lot of farms in my area and if the food supply is disrupted at grocery stores, I may still be able to supplement what I grow in my garden- But, as you said, if everyone in my area doesn’t even grow a little bit, those farms still could quickly be stripped bare. It’s definitely daunting not knowing how long this new situation could last.

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Like you say its not normal so would be an uncomfortable reminder or admitance that life has dramatically changed. I’ve raised it with a few friends on the phone who ended up saying “you’re not very cheerful”. I’m thinking “well we are in the middle of a global disaster…” but know to leave them to it. You can lead a horse to water etc

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