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BIODIVERSITY DIARY: urban oasis challenge

<<Sustainable gardening and biodiversity feature high in many of our members' 2023 resolutions. Climate Action Newcastle member Chris is sharing his personal target through this new regular blog - he’ll welcome your tips, ideas and questions to help him along the way!>>

BACK STORY - why I’m doing my “biodiversity oasis” project! There are myriad ways for each of us to improve our ecological impacts – cutting out animal products; reducing consumption (especially plastics); ethical banking; being mindful about how we commute. Although they’re all extremely important, a downside is that most of us see only the downside: the hassle of changing banks, extra time to take the bus, expense of non-dairy milk alternatives and so on.

I tried to come up with positive actions that I could take which are less distant or abstract. I wanted them to be directly rewarding, with benefits at a local level and - most of all - something I’ll realistically be able to complete!

My thinking turned to ways to maintain and increase local biodiversity. I’ve not paid much thought to this in the past – I’m the not-so-proud owner of an astroturf “lawn”. And I’m not particularly green fingered, so at the outset had very little clue on the best course of action. However, an allotment plot came available close to my home, and my wife Charlie and I at last had a great opportunity to do … ’something’!

Charlie transformed 90% of it in 2022, introducing a whole variety of fruits and vegetables. The remaining 10% is my biodiversity oasis project for 2023! It’s a small patch right at the bottom end, hidden behind the shed. It’s not particularly practical for access.

My Biodiversity Oasis project diary charts what I decided to do Feel free to share my learning! - what works, what doesn't, and what you think might work better!! Comments very welcome, please add below the blog.

Early Oct – Making a start

It’s a bit of a mess on the surface, but the main issue is the bindweed under the plastic covering. I guess the first step in getting this area prepared will be to clear that away as much as possible, otherwise it will take over and scupper my best laid plans. There are also some raspberry plants here that I’d like to salvage if possible – so I’ll need to be careful separating the two without damaging the plant.

Lots of work ahead and with the weather turning colder, darker and wetter, progress is due to be slow. Let’s see what can be done before the spring!

The area isn’t big, but I‘ve some initial ideas, which I share with you here via the magic of Microsoft Paint:

  • Introduce a small pond, made from recycled plastic boxes

  • Small fruit trees or bushes

  • A small hedge/shrubbery, with space to tuck in a wooden hedgehog house

  • Wild flower area, concentrating on types friendly to bees and butterflies.

  • An insect hive, e.g. for solitary bees.

8 Oct – Preparation begins

I’ve made a start on the weeding, and a few of the raspberries have been relocated to elsewhere in the plot (hopefully they’ll survive!) The bindweed is proving a pain, but I hope I’m removing enough to keep it under control.

16 Oct

Lifted the plastic covering and started clearing away more of the bindweed lurking under there. The roots are sprawling and go deep. They’re prone to snapping, so I’m trying to be careful to trace them right back to their beginning. I guess time will tell as to how successful this has been.

23 Oct

Raspberries now almost totally relocated and further progress made with the bindweed!

Still need to find a home for all the rubbish here! It’s a lot of plastic and currently no ideas as to how to reuse it …

29 Oct

Cleared more of the bindweed under the plastic covering.

19 Nov

Spent the afternoon creating my pond :D

Had a bit of a disaster as I was filling the soil back in – I’ve managed to crack the side of the box. Which isn’t very conducive to its watertightness.

I’m hoping I can still make this work, so have bought some waterproof pond liner, will give that a try next chance I get.


***More stories on gardening, composting, food sharing from our Climate Action Newcastle members can be read here.

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