National Gardening Week
How it all began
For many, a solitary activity, gardening becomes an exciting and inclusive exercise when National Gardening Week rolls around. Inspiring thousands to get muddy, take up their trowels and get out into the garden, this week-long event has truly grown (get it?) some great traction in recent years.
After 8 years of creative and communal gardening celebrations in honour of the week organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, the team here at Nutley’s is intent on continuing this tradition, despite the obvious hurdle of a pandemic. We have been exploring the community greenspaces that are right on our doorstep and pulled together some creative ideas that you can try to get involved with this wonderful week, from home.
Community Greenspaces On Our Doorstep
Transition Town Worthing is a local initiative with four small plots of land, where volunteers create and contribute to community gardening projects. The gardens have evolved over time and now vary from wildlife gardens to food growing projects.
We visited May Close, a volunteer-run site, growing fresh produce and wild flowers, where we spoke to board member, Pauline and her partner Alan about how the plot has developed, and the impact it has on the local community. At May Close, volunteers have been growing a variety of delicious produce, including chard, garlic, parsley, strawberries, damsons, lettuce and much more.
Pictured: Pauline & Alan in their May Close polytunnel
Volunteers come from the local community, school groups and other community led projects to help sow, tend to and grow various edible and ornamental plants. The harvested produce is distributed between volunteers, allotment holders, homeless shelters and community groups, such as Food Pioneers community kitchen; a local group who batch cook for those who rely on food banks. Food Pioneers then return the fruit and vegetable peel to May Close, where it is composted, ready to fertilise the soil.
Pauline and Alan were proud to showcase an assortment of repurposed materials, such as decking and construction waste, that Alan has made into raised beds, tables and chairs, workbenches and even a fruit cage! The ethos at May Close, and elsewhere on the TTW plots, is to reuse, upcycle and ensure that no waste comes into or leaves the plot.
We asked whether beginners can get involved too, and Pauline told us the importance of simply ‘giving it a go’ with no expectations, and seeing what happens. In fact, that is how the TTW plots began, by giving everything a go. Volunteers of all skill levels get involved, learning from one another and sharing their knowledge.
Almost all TTW beds have long since adopted the popular no-dig method of gardening, and have no trouble producing abundant, bountiful produce, year on year. You can read more about no-dig gardening here. The on-site compost is made from food scraps and dead plant matter. The bins even house a large family of slow worms who are often seen basking in the heat.
Lastly, and an important purpose of the plots, is friendship. Pauline noted that working alongside people, tending to the same plants and crops, brings people together.
We were impressed by the dedication and team spirit showcased at the May Close plot. You can check out their website here for ways to get involved. But for now, here are our suggestions for ways that you can get involved in National Gardening Week from your own garden.
How To Get Involved In National Gardening Week
Just a few weeks after the official start of spring, National Gardening Week comes at the perfect time to dust off the cobwebs and get back into the garden, just in time for the lighter evenings and longer days.
Here are some of our favourite suggestions for what you can do to get involved:
- Create wildlife habitats, such as bug hotels or hedgehog feeding stations . Find more information on how to create a hedgehog feeding station here.
- Compost in your kitchen, see how much food waste you can turn into compost, you could even start a compost competition with your family!
- Start a windowsill herb garden: don’t let a lack of space stop you! Check out our blog on how best to utilise even the smallest of spaces, here.
- Get your little ones involved: gardening is always more fun with a friend. You can teach your little ones where their food comes from, and they may even be more inclined to eat their greens! Win win, we say.
- Garden for your wellbeing : gardening can be about more than just growing. Why not create a space dedicated to improving your mental health? Check out this helpful page by Mind for more on mental health and nature.
- Growing your own natural beauty: if growing fruit and veg is not your thing, why not grow your own natural beauty ingredients? Not only do they make fantastic gifts, but you know exactly what goes into your cosmetics.
- Planting a kitchen garden: there’s nothing more satisfying than popping into the garden to pick the ingredients for your next meal. Well, apart from telling your family and friends that you GREW that. That’s pretty awesome, too. Check out our Nutley’s seeds here.
Photo by @hayleyslottiehaven
You can follow along on social media, using the hashtag #NationalGardeningWeek, or use the hashtag yourself to share the joy of growing. Whether you like, comment, share or message, be sure to start a conversation with your fellow growers. You never know who you might meet.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, we would love to hear about it. Send us a message via social media, or send in your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share them on our social media platforms!
Happy National Gardening Week!