Get to know Get Ready, Steady, Grow

22nd May 2019

Get ready steady grow

For its inaugural journal entry Forest Flora caught up with Tim Hewitt, one half of a dynamic duo of horticultural heroes, to bring us up to speed on their latest project. Get Ready, Steady, Grow!

Seeds are magic. That something so small can hold so much potential never fails to get me. The business of germination is an alchemy that I love. Mixing of earth and seed and water to produce green life is a process I return to each year with fresh anticipation. This is in essence, Ready, Steady, Grow!

We want to spread thatexcitement as far and wide as possible to the people of Walthamstow. Our plan was to get 500 pots and packets of seeds into the hands of young, old and everyone in between and a vision to display the results in July. But it is the process that we are interested in. We hope that in growing from seed, participants will learn new skills or re-engage with gardening, find a like-minded community and take small steps to improve their wellbeing.

To make this happen, if you had told me a year ago that I would be going into sheltered accommodation, schools, churches, madrassas and accosting random strangers on the street to get them to grow plants from seed, I would have said you were mad.

We came up with the idea in the quiet of winter when gardeners are dormant. It seemed so simple. Give people a pot, seed compost and fast growing annuals. Get them to grow the seed. Display what they have grown in July. Now, in the middle of spring and into early summer, as gardeners we are frantic. It seems like a crazy plan!

Nevertheless, 400 packets of seed are out there in Walthamstow. Seedlings have germinated. Plants are growing. Old and young, novice and expert are at it. We are now at the stage of encouraging participants to prick out and pot on their little treasures. Very soon, pots can go from inside to outside as night time temperatures rise.

Ready, Steady, Grow! didn’t need a lot of money to get off the ground. Thanks to our very helpful sponsors, Lancasters of Wood Street and Thompsons of Crews Hill, we had ample sowing and potting compost. And it was all too easy to find plastic pots lying around (all 400 of them!). Suttons, Chilterns and Sarah Raven all kindly donated seed and we had a fair bit our selves too.

Now we are heading towards the weekend of July 13thand 14th with bated breath. The results of all this growing will be displayed at The Sunken Garden, Attlee Terrace, E17. This will be part flower show, part picnic, part horticultural happening. We hope to bring together the diverse community of Walthamstow to show what they have grown. The annuals have been carefully chosen to be in bloom that weekend. But even if they aren’t we want people to be able to share their experiences of growing from seed. Hopefully, it will have given people an appreciation of the magical but sometimes difficult process. It can be soul destroying to watch something you have grown die. But the opposite is true too: there is joy to be had in growing.

Both Clive and I are passionate believers in the positive effects of growing plants. It is a nurturing, caring, learning process, which takes you away from other concerns for a few seconds or minutes each day. The checking and fussing and watering is truy therapeutic. Until you’ve done it, you may think you haven’t got time. Once you do, you wonder what else you can cram onto your window sills. There is something grounding too in realising that this plant relies on you. Out in the wild, in the ground, plants just get on with it. In a pot, they need you to notice them and attend to their watering.

Even if you are not growing anything from seed this year and not actively participating in the project, come along and have a look. We hope it will be inspirational and educational. You don’t need a lot of space, a windowsill, a doorstep, a balcony will do. Maybe next year, when we want to extend the project, you will be inspired to grow something yourself.

If you have never visited The Sunken Garden, it is a great chance to explore this community space and see what others are growing. So put it in the diary now, 13-14th July from 10.30-4pm, the same weekend as the Walthamstow Garden Party, but with less queues, come and see how the people of Walthamstow have grown.

Clive Meredeen
Tim Hewitt
Guest Editor
Mark Cummings