As hobbies go, gardening is probably close to the top of the list for most people, but growing older does not mean you must sacrifice your hobby. Elderly accessible gardens are a way to take a fresh perspective on a familiar hobby.
If you never had the opportunity to work in the dirt with your hands, you might not understand the joy it brings to your life. However, if you have enjoyed a lifetime of gardening, you know full well how it makes you feel closer to nature by growing your own food or watching beautiful flowers and plants transform a barren patch of lawn into a glorious burst of color.
Most of us don’t start out to garden as a way of reducing our soaring food costs, and that is probably a good thing. If you did an apples to apples comparison of the cost of growing your own vegetables to the expense of purchasing them at the store or local farmer’s market, the savings are likely negligible.
However, what price tag could you put on the benefits gained from your garden experience such as better physical and mental health or the unforgettable taste of a fresh, ripe watermelon harvested straight from the garden?
Gardening can lower stress, help you maintain a healthy weight, and reduce depression. It does not require much specialized or expensive equipment, and almost everyone has the skill to do it. These are all good reasons for seniors to keep gardening for as long as they are able.
While gardening is certainly an enjoyable hobby, it is also a physical hobby and as we age, gardening can gradually transition from a fun experience to a challenging chore. Decline in our physical strength and energy level is not the only change aging brings.
Many folks decide to downsize and move into housing that is more affordable and requires less maintenance such as an apartment or shared living community (think condominium). While these changes make everyday life easier for us, it also means that if we want to continue to enjoy gardening for seniors, we must get more creative.
Container gardening is easy and convenient. If you care to, you can keep a miniature garden growing all year long, although you may need to invest in some grow lights if you do not have a sunny windowsill or some other way for your plants to get the light that they need.
If you plan to experiment with container gardening, a good rule of thumb is to remember that most plants need four to five hours of daylight or supplemental light daily to thrive. If you are growing fruits such as tomatoes, the light is imperative for the plant to set its fruit.
Before you actually plant your garden, plan how you will take care of it. For instance, if you will need to move the containers outside for a portion of the day so they can get sunlight, it’s best to buy smaller sized containers that won’t weigh too much after they are filled with growth medium. Containers should also have adequate drainage.
If traveling frequently is part of your retirement lifestyle, it’s best to plant those varieties that can endure some drought and partial neglect. If you are lucky enough to have a sunny spot in a window or doorway, you can use a larger container, but be sure that it is positioned where you want it as you may or may not be able to move it after it is full.
Containers for gardening range from tiny hanging baskets to wooden barrels, so your only limit is your physical strength and the amount of space you have to work in. Herbs, cherry tomatoes, and other small bush type plants are perfect for container gardens.
Once you try spaghetti sauce or other tomato-based sauces made with fresh basil and oregano, you will never want to eat these foods any other way.
Using herbs in your cooking is a good way to add lots of flavor and zest to dishes, and as a plus, it means you can cut back on using salt to season your foods. As we get older, most of us can benefit from decreasing the amount of sodium we consume, and fresh herbs are an inexpensive way to bump up the taste without increasing the calorie content.
You can use your container gardens to brighten up your indoor décor and as a plus, all those plants generate lots of healthy oxygen to freshen the air. Remember if you have pets in your household that some plants are toxic to pets. Lantana and English ivy, which are two popular choices for container gardens, are extremely poisonous if your pet eats or even nibbles on them.
Another way to continue to enjoy gardening for seniors is to get your grandchildren or the neighborhood kids to help you. If you have a small patch of earth outdoors that can be utilized for planting, try growing one or two tomatoes plants or maybe even planting a watermelon vine.
The kids can help weed and water the plants whenever they visit, and they are sure to want to help you enjoy the fruits of their labor. As a bonus, you are passing on your gardening knowledge and skills to the next generation and providing them with a valuable life skill in the process.
To keep weeds and pests at a minimum level, try using black landscaping canvas or mulch around the roots of the plants. Is kneeling and standing too difficult for you? Perhaps you could get your family to build a small raised garden bed for you or you could put large containers on a tabletop where you could easily reach them.
With the raised bed or tabletop approach, even those individuals who use assistive devices like wheelchairs can continue to gardening without pain or undue stress on their joints and body. The point is, there is no reason for you to give up a hobby that you love and have pursued for most of your life when there are so many viable ways to incorporate elderly accessible gardens and gardening for seniors into your retirement plans.
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