There are several reasons why seniors should be planting a vegetable garden. It’s not all that difficult and the rewards can be significant. That being said, it’s surprising how many seniors have never planted vegetables. Maybe these planting vegetable garden tips for seniors with green thumbs will inspire you to find a spot in your garden for some vegetables.
Chances are, you are more interested in rose bushes and shrubs, but perhaps you can make a space for a vegetable garden.
HOW VEGETABLE GARDENING BENEFITS SENIORS
There are many benefits that can be derived from planting a vegetable garden.
- If you need to exercise, gardening is a great way to enjoy staying active and fit. The added physical activity that comes along with gardening is a great help for flexibility and mobility.
- Gardening makes use of a full range of motor skills.
- The simple act of shoveling, hoeing, planting, and harvesting all help to improve levels of endurance and strength.
- Gardening is a great help in preventing osteoporosis.
- While you are in the garden concentrating on the plants, soil, and enjoying the sunshine chances are you will feel less stress and feel very relaxed.
- It’s always great therapy to be outdoors. It’s stimulating and gives one an appreciation of nature.
- Most of all, you are growing the best possible product that easily surpasses what you buy in a grocery store.
HEALTH ISSUES TO CONSIDER
Extra care should be taken with your skin because as we age it becomes thinner and more fragile.
It’s important to use sunblock on exposed skin.
Sometimes vision problems might make things a bit more difficult and may restrict some activities. The same goes for mental abilities. Mental health and memory might be compromised by dementia and other conditions.
Older people should keep well-hydrated as they are more susceptible to temperature changes. Care must be taken to combat dehydration and heat exhaustion.
It’s possible that diseases like Osteoporosis. rheumatism and arthritis may impede movement and flexibility.
None of these issues will prevent a senior from caring for a garden, as long as steps are taken to deal with them as best you can.
EQUIPMENT TO MAKE GARDENING EASIER
Using raised beds for your plants means not having to stoop over quite as much. This is ideal for seniors with physical restrictions that make bending and stooping difficult.
There are many tools that are adaptive and make gardening easier for seniors. For instance, you might find a Garden Kneeler and seat ideal for providing comfort while working on your plants. A Garden Hand Tool Set might also come in very handy. Five tools are included in the set.
Many seniors do not have a lot of hand strength and Steel Pruning Shears are lightweight and very easy to use. These shears have a labor-saving pulley design which requires 30% less effort which makes them ideal for seniors. The curved handles are user-friendly and make the shears safer and easier to use.
There are several precautions a senior can take to make gardening more enjoyable and safer. For example, any cuts or scrapes should be attended to right away.
Caution should be taken when using power tools, and pathways should be clear and easy to navigate. It’s also wise to take frequent breaks and drink water or juice in a nice shady spot if possible.
Be sure to dress properly for gardening, This should include lightweight, comfortable, clothes, gardening gloves and a wide-brimmed hat.
THE MOST COST-EFFECTIVE VEGETABLES TO GROW
The beauty of growing your own is that you know exactly what went into the growing process. You can rest easy knowing that you didn’t use any pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers that could be harmful to your health.
While you buy produce at a supermarket you really have no idea what the growing process was used before the vegetables reached the store.
If you are planning to grow some produce, but have limited garden space it’s a good idea to plant vegetables that are very healthy for you.
- Kale is an excellent choice for several reasons. Not only is it low in calories, but it’s a healthy and versatile cooking ingredient. It has a growing period of just six weeks. Sometimes kale can be quite expensive, and it’s possible to save quite a lot of money by growing your own.
- Tomatoes don’t require a lot of space and are an excellent choice for smaller gardens. They take about 12 weeks before they are ready to harvest. If you live in an area(like California for instance)that is sunny all year, a tomato plant can produce tomatoes for up to six years.
- Lettuce is incredibly easy to grow and one packet of seeds could provide five months’ worth of product in the right climate. Even if you have a garden in a location where summer is very short, you will be able to grow enough lettuce to last the entire summer. The key is to plant the lettuce seeds five or six days apart so they don’t all mature at once. This will provide fresh lettuce for your salads week after week.
- Broccoli plants take 8 to 12 weeks to grow and on average, each broccoli plant will provide two pounds of broccoli.
- Potatoes are one of the favorite vegetables grown by people who have their own vegetable garden. The average potato plant will produce about nine potatoes. The key to planting potatoes and having a crop that is a good size is to cut back the potato plant as it grows.
If potato plants are allowed to just keep on growing, much of the nutrition will go the plant and not the potato. By cutting back the leafy green plant, you are encouraging the nutrition to go the potato itself and not the plant. One year I cut back my potato plants three times.
The growing season was from about mid-May to the end of September and I would leave my potatoes in the ground as long as possible. One year when I dug up my Red Norland potatoes they were all huge.
Under one plant I just found one solitary potato but is weighed about three pounds. It was pure white inside and as crisp and an apple. It fed five people during one meal.
VEGETABLE GARDEN TIPS TO REMEMBER
While you have a short growing season, it’s best to start some plants indoors in order to shorten their outside growing time. This is especially important for broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes.
It’s best to buy bedding out plants for these items as they might not mature before the frost hits in the fall.
Some vegetables require a lot of sun and are just not that suitable for short growing seasons. A very good example is corn. Very few gardeners have success growing their own corn when their growing season is too short to provide enough sunshine. The plant will grow very tall, but often the corn doesn’t have time to mature.
If you decide to plant root vegetables like parsnips or carrots, be sure to thin them out once the plant is three or four inches tall. This will give the other plants room to grow and will help them grow larger.
Leave the potatoes and root vegetables in the ground for as long as you can. They can stay in the ground well into the fall, even after the frost hits. This is a great way to store them without harvesting them. In the case of carrots and parsnips, you can leave them in until the ground freezes if you like.
I did that one year and dug them out of the ground Christmas Eve for our Christmas dinner. I steamed the parsnips and carrots together and was amazed at how incredibly sweet they were.
Don’t be afraid to try different vegetables. If you have a large garden space why not try Brussel sprouts, cabbage, beets, onions, peppers, squash, green and yellow beans, squash, herbs, strawberries, radishes or any number of vegetables.
It’s a great way to learn about them and how exactly they grow. For instance, I had no idea how Brussel sprouts grew, but I found out after trying them for one season.
I hope these planting vegetable garden tips for seniors with green thumbs help you grow an amazing vegetable garden.
ALSO READ: GARDENING TOOLS FOR SENIORS
Feel free to comment below if you should have some gardening tips or stories to add. Every country and every city has different growing seasons and it would be interesting to hear about yours.