Things you might need (and how to get them)

feet in trainers pushing down on a fork in the groundOne of the things that distinguish humans from animals is our ability to make a tool to do a job. Growing wildflowers could be as simple as throwing seeds onto bare soil, but you may want to do more, and you'll need the right tools for the job.

If you do need to get your hands on some tools and other resources, here are a few options for how to find them:

1. Ask around

Neighbours, friends, family. Asking in person if someone has something you can have or borrow can be nerve-wracking. But you're doing it for a good cause, so be bold!

2. Use online forums

The internet has provided us with whole new ways to communicate with each other, and online forums are a great place to search for things you might need. Here's a few you could try:

Nextdoor

Nextdoor is the world's largest neighbourhood website and app. It launched in the UK in 2016 and has been growing in popularity since. When you join, you join your local "neighbourhood" where you can connect with your community. From finding local recommendations, organising events, to even finding lost pets.

Nextdoor is a great place to ask neighbours to borrow tools or even drum up support for people to get involved with your growing project. 

Sign up or log in here.

Freecycle

Practically a verb in its own right, freecycle is the original place for people to find and give away items for free. It is possible to ask specifically for something (called a "wanted post") but these are used sparingly, so you may need to be patient if you need something very specific.

Find your local group.

3. Ask for donations

If you're growing a wildflower patch as part of a community, school or workplace effort you might find businesses or other places that want to help. If you are asking for donations, follow these two rules:

  1. Be specific about what you need. Make a list, otherwise you may be given kind donations you can't use!
  2. Be honest.
Spacehive

If you are doing a particularly big project, you might want to try crowdfunding. Last year a project in Mill Hill raised nearly fifty thousand pounds to transform a local space into a community garden!

Spacehive is a platform that specialises in supporting projects linked to places. Find out more.

4. Buy what you need

The fallback option is to buy what you need. Things like seeds and compost don't have to be expensive, and if you're growing as a group, you could pool your resources. Garden centres are great places for advice on what to buy, but you can also pick up garden tools at places like supermarkets at an affordable price (be warned though, they may not be as hard-wearing!)

hand with red nail varnish holds a plug plant towards the camera with a trowel in the backgroundSo now you know where to look, what might you need?

Extra soil or compost

Wildflowers do not need, or even want, high quality compost to grow, so you don't need to get big expensive bags of the stuff. If you have compost, you could help it go that bit further by mixing it with things like sand.

Some community gardens may have "free" compost available. This kind of compost is more likely to have unexpected things growing in it, so although it is free it may not be the best option.

Garden forks or spades

Forks or spades are used to dig into the soil (known as cultivating) and pick out plants you don't want to grow. Large forks (like the one in the picture at the top) or spades are better for larger patches of soil. Smaller fork or spades (called trowels) that fit comfortably in the hand are good for smaller spaces and containers.

Rakes

A rake is used to gather up leaves, stones and other things on the surface of the soil and ensure it's crumbly for your seeds to nestle in. If you have a large patch you may need more than one, but if it's a smaller patch you can make do with just the one.

You don't need a rake for containers!

Watering cans (or jugs)

Water is heavy and when dropped from on high can cause damage. That's why people use watering cans, especially ones with a 'rose' attached to the spout, which helps sprinkle the water evenly over the ground. When you first sow your seeds, it's important to be gentle with them.

Containers or pots

For wildflowers it is better to use big containers, as they won't survive in a cramped space like a small pot. Proper growing pots and containers are usually made in a material that is not harmful to plants grown in them. If, however you want to use something like an old sink or bath, you may need to line the container first with heavy black plastic.

If you are using a container, you will need a hole (or several) in the bottom and stones or broken crockery for drainage.

two white markers sitting in soil, one with the words Welsh Poppy

Site markers

Site markers are used as a reference for what you have sown and where. If you're using plug plants (which are small plants grown from seed in a tray) then you may want to mark what wildflower it is, the date and maybe who sowed it.

For wildflower seed mixes it's trickier to mark a specific flower, but you could encourage the people that sow in a particular patch to mark the site. You don't have to get these new: you can use old ice lolly sticks, paint pebbles or shells, or use your imagination!