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Any advice would be good.

 
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daisy



Joined: 04 Feb 2005
Posts: 33
Location: wilts
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 10:27 am    Post subject: Any advice would be good.  Reply with quote    

Currently I have a tiny tiny garden where I manage to squeeze in a few tomatoes and some runner beans each year. This is the extent of my "farming" at the moment .

For the past five years I've been unhappy in my job - working with people with learning disabilities but unable to give up and go back to college for financial reasons. All I've ever wanted to do is work outside and grow things.

Today I have been offered a new job - same company - to run a horticulture project for learning disabled. Bosses don't seem to mind limited experience and have just said I can learn as I go along.

Where do I start? The piece of land is about the size of 4 average allotments , has been dug and has a polytunnel. What foolproof things should I start off with? and can anybody recommend a good, basic book.

I'm excited

Thanks
Dx

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26648
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Does working with people with learning disabilities make much difference.

I wonder if there is a need to concentrate on crops where progress can be view for sustaining interest? e.g. root crops might not be the ones to focus on.

twoscoops



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 1924
Location: Warwickshire
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Good for you, Daisy, I hope it goes well. Iím no expert on gardening but I have been looking at Deliaís Kitchen Garden by Gay Search (and a bit by Delia Smith) and it seems very good. Straightforward and simple, it isnít a big book. The only other advice I can offer is to do what Iím doing this year Ė start small and add more crops to your list as you learn.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

How exciting Daisy, congratulations - sounds like the best of both worlds (paying job doing something you want to do that will make a difference to others!).

Have a look at the weblinks section, there are a number of charities who offer support through gardening -

http://www.downsizer.net/option,com_bookmarks/Itemid,54/catid,39/

Also try contacting organisations like the HDRA and RHS, who offer groups advice; you will be able to benefit from advice, publications and free seeds, and they may offer specific advice as well. An indvidual sub is between £20 and £45 for these, but both have educational aims so their group schemes may be worth checking out.

Good luck!

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Vegetable and Herb Expert
D.G. Hessayon

About £6 at Waterstones etc - all the basic stuff you need.

Don't know the size of your 'work force' but that's a big patch - I'd consider getting some permeable mebrance to cover areas and keep the weeds down if they are not going to be brought into production soon, or alternarively agreen manure - there's no point in letting the weeds get hold.

Get a rough plan drawn up and divide it into beds or planting areas so you can start your basic rotation - location of compos heaps etc.

QUick returns off salad crops, especially in the tunnel and beans in the summer, get broad beans planted in pots now.

Sweetcorn is always a popular and easy crop.

Sounds fantastic!

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'd start by trying to lay my hands on well-rotted manure. If you can't get anything really well rotted, get what you can and try to do some accelerated composting (put it on a plastic sheet, cover it with more plastic, and it'll compost down enough to spread on your plot by, say, April).

I'd tend to go for many of the classic vegetables for this kind of project (The Vegetable Expert, by Hessayon if memory serves, will help you out here, but also browse the gardening section of any good bookshop for inspiration), but also considering your clientelle I'd go for some colourful and interesting vegetables. Think of it as an excuse for you to have fun

'Bright Lights' chard is fun and colourful, and gives plenty of food. There's a purple variety of carrot I'm trying this year. Jerusalem artichokes are invasive, but tall, productive and have great flowers. Some varieties of potato give lots of foliage so there's lots to see; the variety rocket springs to mind. Lots of the oriental greens are quick and tasty (pak choi, mizuna, mustards, etc).

And then I'd also want plenty of herbs for the smells and flavours' in an area that big I'd have the herb garden with a seating area.

Great job to do!

daisy



Joined: 04 Feb 2005
Posts: 33
Location: wilts
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks Everybody. Bugs the "Thrive" link is exactly perfect. Thank you. Reading your replies has made me even more enthusiastic. I think I'm in an enviable position because we don't need to make any profit from the produce (although that will be the aim) so if it all goes pear shaped the first year and my carrots get eaten by flys or rabbits it won't be the end of the world. I can't wait....although...hang on....where will I plug my computer in? Oh no - no downsizer!

Dx

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34031
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Are you stuck having to grow just edible stuff? It'll depend on the abilities of your charges, but the first thing that struck me, and something our kids are really keen to do is one of those willow or hazel living structures.

This kind of thing -> Click me!

Mrs Fiddlesticks



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 10460

PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 05 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I helped at a gardening club for the youngest class at school and they enjoyed the 'treasure' that is scrabbling for spuds in the ground once I'd dug up the halums.

A scented/sensory garden would be an excellent idea. My garden centre gave me a list of poisonous plants to avoid, I don't know if that's something you have to be aware of.

There are plenty of ideas for projects for children on the gardening section of the BBC website, which you might be able to adapt depending on the abilities of your clients. We looked at soil structure one week for example and have done cress growing and sprouted seeds ( both quick and good to see the results)

Would you be allowed chickens? That might be an added attraction for them, with responsibilty for another a good thing to learn.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 05 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Daisy, are you about, how's the new project going?

In the latest issue of the Organic Way there's a story about their own therapy garden; I'm not sure there's anything very concrete to help you but I bet they could provide a fair bit of advice on creating something similar if you ask. Thought I'd post it up here in case it's useful to you or anyone else!

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14972
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 05 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I must have missed this the first time around (damn thesis!) but if you are working with people with physical disabilities, the arthritis research council has some advice. A lot of the other charities have bits on gardening therapy too, there are probably even real gardening therapists on the web too!

I think its http://www.arc.org.uk/

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