Blog: How to grow a garden when everyone has a word to say

Being a student at Wageningen University puts you under a lot of pressure, especially when it comes to gardens, says blogger Donatella Gasparro, Msc student Organic Agriculture.
Donatella Gasparro

© Sven Menschel

I have the luck of living in a student house with quite a big garden, and that’s exciting. I thought: time for finally putting my hands in the dirt and consistently experiment and try all of those things I’ve been studying and dreaming for years! Yay! I was completely ignoring that I had no clue about how things work in this colder climate (I come from South Italy…), in this deep sandy soil, in this general impressive wetness, and in an environment in which everyone has a word to say because, hey, we’re all studying something that ends up in a garden – somehow.

Well, first of all, I was overwhelmed on my own: where to start from? Which methods or techniques to use? Which book to consult? Panic. One head is already too much sometimes. And time is never enough.

Then I started asking friends and housemates. And here comes the fun.


I am a MSc Organic Agriculture student. This says it all: of course, what I started doing, was thinking about vegetable production in a funky environmentally friendly way, trying to combine flowing shapes and species associations in order to let plants help each other.

Then comes the landscape architect: everything has to be beautiful. Flowers everywhere and amazingly designed flower beds started pushing food in a corner. And what about the environmental scientist? I wanted to move a log close to the campfire. He told me: “Wait! Check if there’s a salamander!”. A tour of wild-animalfriendly constructions in his garden followed.

Robin Hood

Last but not least, the plant science Robin Hood of the neighborhood, that saves seedlings and plants from laboratory experiments for giving them away. And of course we took some.

In conclusion, we raised funky shaped beds, planted many vegetables, both flowers and edible flowers in and around the vegetable beds, planted rescued beans and lettuces, and let some corners go wild for hedgehogs and reptiles (well, that happens anyway).

I realised that a garden is one whole living being, including its care takers. And, as every living being does, it changes and adapts in space and time with all its parts. We’re all growing together.*

*And weeds are the fastest.

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