Growing Crazy - Let's Grow Newcastle Twitter @GrowingCrazyNCL
This project offers support to those interested in getting involved in growing and gardening for the first time. Whether wanting to grow food for your table or to increase the biodiversity in your front or back yard, or neighbourhood or school, we can offer some advice (and where possible, additional support like donations). The natural world is at risk and so are many of its species. The world needs everyone's help to increase biodiversity, we can all help make a difference.
If you are interested in getting involved, have any questions or donations? It would be great to hear from you. Just email us on E firstname.lastname@example.org
The first Growing Crazy Blog is attached below - we hope it will inspire you to start growing! This blog was written by a dedicated member of Climate Action Newcastle and Growing Crazy:
I want to tell you how I became crazy about growing this year. I moved to Newcastle two years ago. I found a perfect flat which was on the third floor with no garden. I was working full time and didn’t think I’d have time for gardening, besides which I moved up here from the Midlands to spend time with my daughter and her family. However, I’d been studying nutrition and realised that a lot of food is low in nutrition if it’s not grown organically. Some food is flown thousands of miles before it gets to our plate and I realised that the healthiest option for me and the planet, was to grow my own. I applied for an allotment. I got an email back quite promptly to tell me I was on the waiting list which is currently four years.
Undeterred, in January 2020 I did some research into micro-greens, bought some seed trays, seeds and compost. I could start to grow some food in trays on my windowsills. Micro-greens only take two to four weeks to grow, then you just snip the leaves off and add them to salads. You can use cress, lettuce, spinach, even radish leaves are tasty when they are very small. The first batch was coming along nicely. I told my daughter about my growing project. She was quite keen for my grandson (then aged three years old) to find out about growing plants and we agreed I would grow some plants in her garden.
My daughter’s garden is small and immaculate. The result of years of designing and planting, it is beautifully balanced with seating areas and eating areas, mostly perennial shrubs, bamboo and Acers. Colours and plant shapes are thoughtfully planted to create a garden with both shaded areas and sunny which is interesting all year round and relatively easy to manage. My daughter and son-in law took up a section of decking near the fence which got a lot of sun. This was to be my area for growing some climbing plants like runner beans. I got the beans started on my window sill. By this time I had quite a wide range of seeds. I had spoken to a friend who has an allotment and she had recommended some things to try so I found myself browsing the seed displays in supermarkets and buying mostly vegetable seeds but also some flowers.
I discovered that loofahs, which I always thought were a type of sea creature or sponge, are actually a cross between a bean and a squash and you can grow them in your garden. They are also long lasting, non plastic and bio-degradable to use in your shower. I went on line and ordered some seeds. I got some easy things for my grandson to grow too, mixed squashes and nasturtiums.
Then it was March and the rumbling about Coronavirus became a nation-wide lockdown. I moved in with my daughter. I live on the same street as her so I walked down with my suitcase then returned four or five times to get my plants! I was assigned the conservatory as a plant nursery and the bit of garden between the conservatory and the fence was covered over with a large sheet of plastic to make a shelter for the bigger plants. Some of the micro- greens were left to grow taller and were planted out in the garden.
In the early days of lockdown there were shortages of toilet rolls, then flour and talk of food supplies being disrupted, so growing our own seemed sensible. I soon filled my patch and started planting things in the flower beds. Red lettuces looked really good next to a red cordyline. Rainbow chard added a splash of red and yellow stalks. I planted sunflowers behind the bamboo and tomatoes and squash under the leylandii hedge. I still had things in pots and trays.
During March and April I would rush downstairs like a child on Christmas morning to see what had come up or what had developed or grown since the day before. I ran out of flowerpots and seed trays. I used yoghurt pots and fruit punnet trays. I discovered you can make mini green houses from milk cartons, plastic bottles and storage boxes.
I was surprised how little time it all took. Watering was the biggest job, but lids on trays or just a clear plastic bag over the top of a pot created a self watering system. But I did spend a lot of time just looking at the plants. I’ve always found the process of plants growing from seeds really interesting. Plant watching became my new mindfulness practice.
I’m not good at labelling plants. It took several months for me to realise that what I thought was a loofah plant was in fact a runner bean. All in all I’ve not been the most successful gardener. If I was relying on the garden for food I may have starved but there have been a number of home grown salads with lettuce and tomatoes. The green beans were prolific but the cucumbers perished as soon as I put them in the garden and I broke my very large squash plant when I was moving it. All in all I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I’ve got my winter veg in now and when I moved back to my flat in September, I took my trays and I’m growing lettuce and herbs for my salads. And next year, well, I’ve got a bit of a challenge I’m working on. More next time!