Tag Archives: weeds

Tracks of the Iron Masters Day 6: you say immigrant, I say potato.

Weeds for many of us are those plants which happen to find their way into the least desirable places on our front lawns, garden paths or back yards. There we are, sitting on our laurels feeling as pleased as punch with our manicured lawn or tidied up patch when out of the corner of our eye we spot a pesky little intruder which somehow managed to avoid our overzealous strimming and demonic poisoning and has survived against all the odds, cluttering up our neat and tidy view of what nature should be all about. We instantly name the intruder as a weed and set about trying to purge the landscape of it, its related cousins and anything else that could upset the ecological harmony we have established on our land.

Our efforts may be frequently in vain as the intruders tend to be hardy little plants who have experienced far more threats to their livelihood than the occasional misguided Black and Decker strimmer or undiluted paraquat. That weed, which you can’t help see out of the corner of your eye amidst the order you have created, has probably faced off predators, illegal chemicals, drunks out on the tiles looking for the nearest urination hotspot and far worse threats to its existence that you can conjure up in the safety of your potting shed. That solitary weed is here to stay and heaven help you if you think that you an dig it up, transplant it, snap it off at the prime of its life or dead head it. The weed will win every time.

Of course, if you decide that the fruit of that weed happens to make some rather tasteful jam which you can add to your tea time on the lawn, or its seeds happen to make that plastic white sliced loaf palatable, or its leaves when infused in boiling water for a few minutes provide you with a surprising pick you up tonic for the rest of the day, especially when combined with a drop of milk, a spoonful of sugar and a digestive biscuit, then you’ve not really got a weed on your hands at all. You’ve got the potential of a native crop.

So, next time you spot a weed or intruder out of your eye, just ask yourself whether its really as offensive as you think it is. It might just save your life in future.

Tips for Business Start Ups: when should your hobby not become your business?

Colin has been a long time gardening hobbyist; he has dabbled in potted plants, sells the odd apple (and when I say odd, I mean odd strange, not odd occasional), designs all manner of green houses which sit in a Tesco bag under his bed and over the years has built a useful income for himself selling a disparate variety of plants, fruit and vegetables all from the comfort of his ramshackle garden shed. It’s been a labour of love for him and has been a hobby which has eaten up most of his time and not a small part of his income. If he were to do a cost benefit analysis he would probably demonstrate to himself that he was losing money hand over fist by the day, but that’s not important: he loves it, and it loves him and every one in the garden is happy.

Unhappily though, Colin has been persuaded that his hobby could become a significant business opportunity. Someone’s whispered in his ears too many times that if he could write a business plan, that if he should have an accountant, that he would then be driving a company car – all on the proceeds from the activity in his garden shed. He’s now staring at that run down shed and wishing it were more than it is: thinking it could do with a coat of paint, that it needs a receptionist and thinking, isn’t it about time he got serious with a brass plaque just under the window so that others down the allotment knew that he’s now a bona fide horticulturalist?

Colin unfortunately is so woven into his hobby that no amount of business cards, plans or acumen is going to convert this activity from a much loved hobby to a rational, calculated business. He loves it too much: he knows so much about the intricacies of his potted plants, their soil demands and how the sun shines at a particular angle on a Tuesday afternoon that he’s unable to distance himself from the nitty gritty of his garden and recognise that whilst some of the plot has business potential – much of it doesn’t. Some of the shed needs knocking down and rebuilding on the roadside; some of the ground needs concreting over, rather than left as an unending sprawl of wild flowers, interesting herbs and strange tendrils that no-one knows what they’re called, where they come from and where they’re going (aka weeds to the rest of us).

Colin’s hobby is just that – a beautiful, varied and delightful way of passing the time of day and bathing in the sunshine. It’s not – and won’t be with Colin in charge – a business. And neither should it be. The difficulty for Colin is to recognise this, step back from dressing up in suits and put back his garden gloves and continue to love what he does, has done, and will do for the rest of his days.

Loving your hobby is one thing: but you can love it too much for it to become your business.