Compost Corner: Spring    watercanPair

It's a new year and I feel that's it's a year of great promise. I am new to the Caswell Clinic having a good background in garden maintenance and landscape, also having my own allotment which I have successful ran for the past four years, also keeping a number of chickens and geese, it was felt by OT., with the support of my Manager, that I should help out with the running of the gardening group. Which from what I have been learning, was very successful last year.

Well done all of you for a great efforts and all that hard work last year. I feel that I have a lot to live up to. Also joining the OT team is Paul, so a warm welcome to him, together I hope that we will make a good team.

The group started in the cold months of February and I was overwhelmed by the strength in the numbers of the group, who worked hard to prepare the heavy ground, ready for future harvest. During March the gardening group had seeded many trays and at the time of writing, most have geminated and will be ready to plant on soon.

As the main aim of the group is to enable patients to develop their skills and abilities in growing plants, flowers and vegetables; with regards to vegetables I pointed out the importance of crop rotation and in keeping good garden record, in order to use year after year. Garden records take the form of a plan on paper, laying out beds and what is to be planted where. It can also show when to plant and when to harvest. Thereafter, during the year we can also keep a record of any pest problems aiding successful harvest in the coming years.

By rotating crops you prevent the build-up of pest, resulting in the same crops being grown in the same place, year after year. You are also making better use of the soil nutrients, as different plants remove different nutrients at different rates. I feel that the gardening group now fully understand this concept. Thanks for the help of Andy H and Brett, who gave up some of their time to show me around the grounds and informing me what was planted last year, in order that we can plan the year ahead and again Andy H has spent a lot of time working hard to draw up a plan for this years growing season. Please see above drawing and the broad bean and potato patch opposite.

Great news; The Clinic is an Approved Centre for the Open College Network and this year we will be running a Foundation level course in Basic Horticulture, the following years we will introduce levels 1 – 3. This will earn participant course credits which can be used to further your education and skills needs. Please don't be scared off, as this is a very practical course and little academic skills will be required. If you wish to Register as a learner, then please contact Paul (OT Dept), or myself.

In addition to the OT Gardening Group, patients on Cardigan Ward plan to work on their own garden area. Plans are a foot to produce a great display of scents and colour, to include not only flowers but herbs and vegetables. Patients on the ward also plan to produce hanging baskets, to be offered for sale in the reception area. This will develop funds for future plans.

Remember we are always looking to expand the gardening group, so come along and join in. You will learn new skills and you will enjoy all that fresh air.