Compost Corner Autumn
This is the second time that I have been asked to write an article for the Caswell Chat and I feel honoured to be here once again. My first article was included in the spring 2007, issue No. 19.
It's not been an easy year for any gardener. Last year was hot and dry, this year, cold and wet. The lesson to learn here must be take the weather that we are given and make the most of it.
So we're now coming to the end of the season and I ask myself, "Did we achieve all that we had planned to do?" That's a tough question to answer. I heard that the gardening group had done very well in the past and I set out at the beginning of the year to do as well, if not better. But coming to the end of the season, crop yields are not as great as one would have wish for. We had a good yield of early potatoes and broad Beans, Cucumber, Tomatoes and Beetroot and at the time of writing, we have the potential of a great yield of Squash and late potatoes. But we had planted out much more than that, which included; Leeks, Onions, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Carrots, Lettuce, Runner Beans, Radish, & Corn. But there is little to show for our hard work and efforts. So why is this? The answer is summed up in just three words. Rain Slugs and builders. First we have had more rain come down in just two months than we would have had all year, this meant that the gardening group couldn't get out into the grounds to do what they do best, gardening. This reminds me of a poem that I wrote many years ago. It was called:"A Rainy Day."
A Rainy Day
Pitter, patter, turns to thud, thud,
Pounding hard upon flagstone paths,
Dark grey clouds, ghostly floating,
Above the sodden earth below,
Another day, gazing through crystal panes,
Wondering, what just might have been.
Secondly this rain has been just prefect for the Slugs, who, while our backs are turned, come out and eat all that they could find. This action I know has upset many members of the group, wondering why we plant out crops, just to feed the slugs. Due to it being toxic, we were told that we couldn't use slug pellets. So more and more slugs were born and more crops disappeared.
A lesson was born, Pests and Diseases and beneficial insects. We tried to come up with all sorts of ideas on how to rid ourselves of these pests. We laid down sand and salt, but this was just washed away by the next rain, too much salt and we would start to change to Ph of the soil. Eggshells were mentioned, but when was the last time a hospital used real eggs? Sawdust is another great medium and so is Seaweed, which will also act as a fertiliser, but again, not too much as it has a great deal of salt-water content. Copper wire, copper pipe, is another barrier that slugs will not cross.
We tried plastic bottles, filled with all kinds of sweet tasting juices, we couldn't use beer. Nothing helped us much. But that's life and I reflected that to the team, we all have to follow rules and adjust our lives and live accordingly. On the bright side, we were not flooded out and lost our homes like so many of our fellow men. It all sounds pretty bad, but I didn't see it that way. I have been lucky to have experienced these events with the group. I was concerned and upset for them, just as I was concerned and upset for myself. We hadn't failed; other factors were obstacles too difficult to overcome.
But hey, let's not loose heart, I am very proud of the gardening group and proud to be numbered amongst them. They have all worked very hard this year and I am pleased that they allowed me to be a part and spend this time with them, an experience I wouldn't have missed. I have grown as a result. Each and every one of them worked hard and was a very valued member of the group.
I started employment at the Caswell Clinic in January this year and for the first few months I felt lost and unsure if I would stay. My manager sensed this in me and he had noted in my CV, my interest in gardening and the OT team needed someone with knowledge to run the Gardening Group. I was asked if I was interested, so I took it on and I began to enjoy my new employment, at last I fitted in. After just a few weeks O.T. told me that they were planning to run a course on Basic Gardening Skills and would I be interested in becoming the Tutor for the course. I agreed, but at the time I wasn't certain what I was taking on. The course was approved by the Open College Network and for me it was hard going,writing the course material and getting everything in order, paper-work was not my greatest assets. So it was a big learning curve. I recall the final external moderation meeting. I was lead to believe that the meeting would last about an hour. It lasted three hours and all the time I was worried about my duties on the ward, (I am a Care Assistant on Cardigan and facilitate the OT Department). By the end of that meeting, I just managed to get to the gardening group for the last half hour of the two hour session.
Becoming the Tutor meant that I had to write and design the course around OCN criteria and then marking papers, on the computer or printing and photocopying coursework which included working many hours at home. But I enjoyed every moment of it and it helped me find my place within the Clinic. The group have worked very hard this season dealing with the problems with the weather and slugs and coming to teams with rules and regulations, what we can and can not do. Two months of rain stopped us from going out into the garden and when we had great sunshine, building work stopped us for a further ten days. Thereafter we still had the odd days when the grounds were out of bounds. What with all that, each one of the group that enrolled in this years OCN course, have managed to pass and will receive a certificate. Well done to all of you, once again, I'm very proud of you and grateful that you have allowed me to be part of your journey.