From little things, big things grow

Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2020

Meet Terry, a client at our brain rehabilitation centre, Oats Street.

With twenty years’ landscaping and reticulation experience, Terry has been an important figure in the Oats Street Gardening Group which commenced during COVID-19.

I used to own my own landscaping business and I did everything from garden fix-ups, trimming, planting, mulching and reticulation.

Terry said that the staff at Oats Street came up with many different ideas to keep clients occupied during visitor restrictions, but it was the gardening program that grabbed his and other clients’ attention.

The garden bed in our courtyard was overrun with tangled up rosemary and mint, so we decided to turn it into a veggie patch – it’s good to grow useful things.

It was hard work pulling out the old plants, but we did a great job, everyone got involved. And we’ve all enjoyed seeing things grow – we take pride in our work.

We wanted to give ourselves a challenge so all plants were grown from seeds.

We’ve really done the best we can.

Since the group formed, the garden has flourished, even as restrictions ease and clients have more options on how they spend their time.

We’ve grown radishes, lettuces, peas, carrots, beetroots, garlic and bok choy.

We all take turns watering the plants every day. Everyone in our house has a day during the week to look after the garden.

The local Willy Wagtails love to visit the garden and eat all the bugs for us, we don’t use any pesticides.

After all their hard work and patience – it’s now harvest time.

I’m going to cook a stir-fry with the peas, carrots and bok choy. I cook twice a week, and growing our own veggies means I can cook with my own ingredients and home-grown always tastes better! They’ve got good vitamins and minerals in them. I reckon a vegetable curry will be good too!

The Gardening Group continues with lots of enthusiasm, despite most clients’ routines returning to normal. The activity has had positive rehabilitation opportunities for clients including:

  • Physically: Some clients were motivated to walk to and from the garden bed, bending, reaching and grasping whilst standing at the raised garden bed.
  • Cognitively: Encouraging clients to work collaboratively and plan the layout of the garden, use memory strategies to remember to water the garden seek information (from internet and each other) about plants and apply their knowledge, problem solving and reflection. Clients have also been researching recipes, preparing foods and trialling new recipes.
  • Mental health: There have been benefits from working together as a group, with regular opportunities for social interaction, a sense of achievement and wellbeing from being productive and working outdoors.

Our physio Sue just donated us a hot-house. In here we are growing tomatoes, capsicums and sweet potato for our summer crop, they like the heat. Once they’re big enough, we are going to move them to another garden bed by the basketball court. We’ve already got rid of the shrubs and put in a drip reticulation system, and we’ve put some beetroots in there too.

We can’t wait to see the summer veggie patch.