Guerilla gardener makes it fun to get your hands dirty

PUBLISHED: 13:51 16 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 07 September 2010

Bridget Galton finds out why you don t have to have your own garden to enjoy growing your own food A NEW guide to DIY and guerrilla gardening offers advice on how to plant a living salad, make a seed bomb or build your own polytunnel. Growing Stuff (B

Bridget Galton

finds out why you don't have to have your own garden to

enjoy growing

your own food

A NEW guide to DIY and guerrilla gardening offers advice on how to plant a living salad, make a seed bomb or build your own polytunnel.

Growing Stuff (Black Dog Publishing £16.95) subtitled An Alternative Guide to Gardening, aims to tap into the modern craze for growing your own and eating healthily and sustainably.

Its colourful step-by-step instructions should inspire enthusiastic amateurs to transform their outdoor spaces - whether large gardens, allotments or urban balconies.

With the emphasis on fun, there are project ideas ranging from sowing a lavender pillow to performing a spot of guerrilla gardening - the illicit cultivation of often neglected urban spaces.

Richard Reynolds, the author of On Guerilla Gardening is one of the contributors and writes in the foreword about how he rescued a sunflower seed from a salad, planted it next to a bus stop and propped it up with a bamboo cane as it grew.

He admits the activity is often nocturnal, involves taking risks and can be about the political gesture of seizing land: "I have managed to grow plants in thoroughly unpromising circumstances. I have transformed neglected public land in my neighbourhood regardless of the horticultural and bureaucratic obstacles.

"Eager to grow stuff, and without a patch of my own, I spotted an opportunity in these local spaces. Seeing plants flourish in the middle of swirling traffic and unremarkable urban scrub become a productive garden has been the most satisfying gardening I've done."

He adds: "Just think what cities would look like if we were all gardeners, making use of private gardens, rooftops and beyond our private boundaries."

The opening chapter lists the basic tools needed: the difference between composts, tips for sowing seeds, planting seedlings and taking cuttings.

It suggests inventive ways of getting hold of plants - by swapping with friends or visiting recycling websites. They can then be potted in old baskets, suitcases or saucepans.

There is a section on setting up a compost system, pruning and pest control before countless suggestions on growing fruit and veg - complete with a few recipe suggestions for cooking them.

Camden Town based artist Sonia Uddin and her collaborator Leah Elsey explain how to grow baby carrots in an old wooden fruit box, potatoes in a large paper sack, create a beetroot box out of an old wine crate and use a grow bag for aubergine and peppers.

"When we were studying art we were interested in the social history of growing things, reclaiming the land, and social change," says Elsey.

"We decided to try it ourselves and started growing things from seed in the concrete courtyard of Chelsea College of Art. It was a real leap of faith. We hadn't done anything like it before. We ended up opening the garden for London sustainability week and invited local people to come and draw the garden."

The section on herbs not only advises how to grow rosemary but use it to make a hair rinse. Growing mint on the windowsill is a chance to make a mojito cocktail, or chamomile a chance to make tea.

The practical projects section includes tips on making a DIY root cellar, a polytunnel out of a wooden pallet, plumber's pipe and wire coat hangers, or a ladybird house out of sticks, screws and bamboo canes.

Worm farms to convert food scraps into compost can be constructed from two watertight boxes and an old jumper. And a seed bomb? It's a projectile of clay dust containing seeds, soil and water that is lobbed over a fence or onto a neglected but difficult to reach patch of ground.

"They can be made in the comfort of your own domestic munitions factory and the act of gardening is a fleeting moment of hopefulness," says Reynolds.

1


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ham&High. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Hampstead Highgate Express