George Hassall

I love creating wildlife habitats, growing my own grub, dabbling at landscaping and I’m obsessed with ponds. I’ve loved nature all my life and feel a real drive to protect it. 

How did you get into gardening?

My Dad started work on our garden at home when I was about 4. Originally, it was one steep slope, and the main supporting wall was falling down, so there was lots of landscaping to do. It was also really overgrown, so where I could, I’d get involved and I’d say as I’ve grown up, our garden has evolved too.

In addition, my Mum and some friends set up a local community gardening group, 11 years ago. They organise lots of gardening and local food workshops, events & festivals throughout the seasonal year. There’s a community allotment and 2 orchards, where I’ve learnt lots of skills.

At primary school, we had a fantastic gardening club, with an amazing teacher, who inspired us all to give gardening a go.

What is your key focus?

For me, gardening is a family thing; at home, there’s a focus on growing our own food, with 3 raised veg beds, soft fruit bushes and apple trees and various culinary herbs. After that, the whole garden is dedicated to wildlife. We have 2 ponds, lots of insect loving plants and areas that we just leave wild, managed, but wild. For us, growing veg and wildlife gardening is connected, for example once we’ve harvested purple sprouting broccoli, we allow some to go to seed. Early pollinators are mad for the beautiful, yellow flowers it produces, when not much else is around.

Why are you working with RocketGro?

I’m really chuffed to become a RocketGrower as I’ve lived at the foothills of the Pennines all my life and it’s fair to say I’m totally obsessed with the moors. As nature lovers we all have a responsibility to protect what we need and what we love. Peat, that blackened boggy earth is really the only reason the moors are the way they are. For such a simple material, its one that’s sought after in the horticultural world. Extracted from lowland bogs, peat isn’t something that you can just create, it takes thousands of years to make. 

Using RocketGro peat-free compost means we are conserving the moors, whilst also enjoying our gardens. RocketGro is sustainable, organic and a fantastic peat-free product, for me, it’s just win, win!

Top tip for a budding gardener

My role as a RocketGrower is about inspiring children, so I always say plant ‘big seeds for little hands’, such as sunflowers. They grow big and tall and are a big hit with kids.

Personally, I love growing veg you can rely on, like peas, courgettes, potatoes and broad beans and then each year I try something new and different. Whilst my attempt at growing lemongrass was a total disaster, my padron peppers weren’t half bad!

Fun Fact…

I was invited to work at Chatsworth House Gardens for a day. After I’d finished the Duke of Devonshire invited me into the house for a chat. My welly had a leak and I walked muddy water all over his posh carpet!

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