Gardening is a rewarding hobby at any age, as medical studies have discovered in recent years. Getting hands on with nature offers a host of benefits, including increased peace, physical strength and mobility, which is why we at Bethesda Gardens encourage our residents to exercise their green thumbs both indoors and out.
Whether you grow them for their beauty, aroma or edible offerings, tending plants and enjoying the results can provide a great deal of satisfaction and accomplishment. It's easy to get started with as little as a few herbs or sprouts on your windowsill inside your assisted living apartment. However, with the right tools, gardening outdoors can be just as accessible and offer many more possibilities.
The heart of the garden itself, plants can be grown from seeds or purchased as seedlings. When choosing what plants to grow, ask yourself what your goal is. Cut flowers for a vase? Vegetables that you can harvest and eat? A nectar garden to attract butterflies and hummingbirds?
One of the best ways to get started is to visit a local garden center here in Springfield, MO, such as Wickman's Garden Village or Schaffitzel's Flowers & Greenhouses, and ask their staff for advice. A good garden center will have employees who know the varieties of flowers and vegetables that flourish in our area and can teach you how to care for them correctly.
Container gardening is a great way for beginners to give gardening a try. Many low-maintenance plants such as succulents and geraniums thrive in pots. It's also highly customizable. Seniors can choose their preferred style of pot, type of flower and color combinations.
Individuals who love farmhouse styles might enjoy mixing annuals, such as marigolds and daisies, in a galvanized steel pot, and fans of classic decor may want to fill molded urns with double begonias or ferns.
Fast-growing herbs, such as mint and lemon balm, are often grown in containers to prevent the plants from spreading uncontrollably through garden beds. And vegetables such as carrots and potatoes are much easier to harvest in a container than in an open garden bed thanks to the small growing area and loose soil.
The best projects are laid with a good foundation. For gardening, the best foundation is healthy soil. Regular dirt dug up from the ground is dense and hardens in containers. Potting soil on the other hand consists of loose, lightweight materials that improve drainage and let plant roots spread freely.
Beginning gardeners may also want to select a bag of potting soil with a slow-release fertilizer already mixed in. This type of soil usually has enough fertilizer for the first few months of growth, which allows beginners to jump straight into growing plants and learn about fertilizing them over time as they gain more experience in gardening.
Water is vital for a growing garden, but that doesn't mean you have to water your garden every day. Check the growing conditions your plants prefer and monitor how quickly your containers dry out after you water. If handling a hose or watering can is difficult, adding water globes and self-watering pots can help you cut down on the work.
A good pair of gloves keeps skin clean and prevents scratches, which is important for older adults because cuts and breaks in the skin tend to heal more slowly as we age. Though there are many types on the market, a good all-around glove is one with a cloth back and a nitrile-coated palm and fingers. The coating will keep your hands dry during watering sessions and enhance your grip on tools, and the cloth back will let your skin breathe and help keep your hands cool.
Wearing the correct size is key to protecting hands and enhancing comfort. For the best fit, avoid one-size-fits-all offerings and pick a pair that is suited to you. It should let your knuckles and fingers move around comfortably without the glove awkwardly slipping or shifting as you work.
Garden tool sets contain the essentials that every gardener needs such as a hand trowel and cultivator (sometimes called a hand rake).
Though the tools are fairly universal in shape and function, there are many brands on the market to choose from. Some are imbued with fun colors and patterns, which make them easier to spot and retrieve when set down, and others are made with ergonomic handles that ease the strain on your hand and forearm as you work.
Trimming and cutting are necessary for many gardening tasks such as harvesting vegetables, picking flowers for arrangements and removing spent blossoms from plants. It's quite common for gardeners to experience hand fatigue due to the repetitive nature of these tasks, which makes a smartly designed pair of pruning shears a great addition to your gardening tool collection.
If all you are doing is occasionally snipping soft stems or leaves, you might want to consider a simple pair of garden scissors or snips. The compact design gives more control and makes it easy to cut a few flowers for a bouquet.
For larger jobs, pruning shears with a ratchet mechanism and ergonomic handles greatly reduce the effort needed to complete continuous cuts.