Making gardening accessible for all – tips to get you started

With the weather improving, this week our Occupational Therapy students have been looking at how gardening can have positive impacts for everyone. They share some tips on how to get going (or should we say “growing”…) which make this an accessible activity for all.

And of course it wouldn’t be an OT blog without a delicious recipe for you all to try! This week Joanna and Callum bring you a taste of summer! Over to them…

Hi, we hope that you were able to enjoy the weekend and got to see some friends and family, either virtually or in person. We’d be very interested to see if any of you attempted the Easter blondies which we cooked last time 😊

This week we wanted to cook something which championed British summer fruits and so we chose to cook apple and blueberry danishes.

Blueberries are filled with anti-oxidants which helps keep us healthy by preventing heart disease, regulating blood sugar, aiding vision and promoting good gut health.

Apples are also good for regulating blood sugar and lowering cholesterol. You can find our recipe here.

Now that lockdown restrictions are being eased and the weather is (hopefully!) becoming warmer, more of us may be able to access outside spaces. If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden, then you might like to try growing your own fruit and vegetables. Even a windowsill or balcony can provide enough space to grow your own ingredients including herbs and spices.

Gardening can have the following benefits:

  • Reducing stress
  • Lowering muscle tension
  • Increased feelings of wellbeing
  • Increasing strength, stamina and mobility
  • Increases your ability to plan, problem solve and concentrate on an activity
  • Providing a meaningful occupation that can help you achieve your goals.

If you are new to gardening, an Occupational Therapist (OT) may recommend that you set yourself a long-term goal and then devise steps to reach it. By breaking down meaningful goals into stages it can make them feel less overwhelming and more manageable. The process of setting goals is beneficial as it encourages you to identify what skills and resources you already have which can help you, as well as what you need to improve. By sharing your goals with friends and family they can support you by:

  • Providing encouragement
  • Working with you to identify opportunities to practice skills
  • Realising when you want to try and do something more independently.

An OT would suggest that the stages to reach your overall goal get gradually harder as your confidence and ability increases.

For example, your overall goal might be to grow a herb garden by the end of September. You can break this down into the following stages to help you achieve your goal in a manageable way:

1st – buy a herb plant to keep in the house
2nd – grow a second herb plant from seed
3rd – prepare a window box with soil and transfer both herbs to it
4th – grow a third herb from seed straight into the window box.

Whichever goals you might choose to follow as we emerge into Spring, we wish you the best of luck with them.

We are coming to the end of our placement with Headway Sussex and have really enjoyed getting to know you and learning more about life post brain injury. The knowledge which we have started to gain will support us to become more aware and effective OTs of the future.

With all our thanks,
Jo and Callum