HackSpace magazine

Making with nature

By Dr Lucy Rogers. Posted

I enjoy working outside – one of my best holidays was making a Windsor rocking chair from green (fresh) wood in the woods. I prefer to take my chop saw out on to the patio when I need to cut stuff, rather than in the workshop, and if I can, my tea-breaks are taken outside.

I’ve always had a garden, but my gardening skills have mainly consisted of lawn mowing and ‘taming’, with a bit of intermittent weeding, rather than growing or planting things. The definition of a weed is something growing in the wrong place – I’ve weeded oak saplings, grass, and mint – all of which I’d have loved to have had in places where they are not! I did once try to create a living willow structure, where I planted willow whips into the ground. It became known as ‘The Dog Basket’ and was not very successful.

However, having recently been mainly restricted to my garden, and as the weather has been wonderful, I have started to take more of an interest in what is growing out there.

As garden centres have been closed, many seeds and plants online were sold out, so I wondered what I could hack. I vaguely remembered growing carrot tops when I was a child, so I placed my carrot trimmings in a saucer and was very satisfied to see them sprout. I have now planted them out. I have been most disappointed to learn that I can eat the carrot greens (leaves), but they won’t grow another orange root.

I have also planted some seeds I found in the bird-seed mix I had. I didn’t have plant pots, so I used old plastic milk bottles, with some drainage holes poked in the bottom. I have some 5 cm high seedlings now – which I am hoping will grow into sunflowers. Or maybe hemp.

I’ve seen some great experiments online of people growing avocado stones, dried beans, and apple pips. I think when we are restricted in some ways, we crave being able to nurture something we do have some control over.

I saw recently that Sally Le Page did a YouTube video on making a wildlife pond – to encourage amphibians and insects and other mini beasts into the garden. I was impressed at the simplicity of her make – a pot, (could be an old washing-up bowl or a large flower-pot with no holes in it) some Hessian cloth and rocks – to help the beasties crawl in and out, some coir (coconut hair) and some pond soil and pond plants. Nice for a bird bath too. It’s now on my list of things to make.


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