Gardening is not only pleasant and productive, it is good for both your physical and mental health, studies on gardening for seniors show. If you connect with nature, your mood will be brighter, relaxation will increase and anxiety and depression will decrease. Plants improve the quality of the air you breathe, release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. It is a calm physical activity with low power that gets you off the couch. Beauty is a bonus: to see a glorious living thing flourish under your care.
Its benefits are highest for women, vegetable growers and people with modest incomes, revealed a new study on urban gardening in the twin cities.
Ready, set, plant!
An easy way to start: garden in containers. It does not matter if you have poor soil or no soil, if your garden is concrete or stone, or if you have a balcony or window sill. The results can be spectacular: think of plants in different colors, shapes and textures, or vibrant patterned Mexican or Italian ceramic pots. If it’s hard to bend, no problem: you do not have to. I prefer a riot of color and variety (see left), but the possibilities are endless.
“You can have a full garden in containers without the work required with a traditional garden bed,” says Shelby DeVore, author of Think “inside” the box, an ebook on container gardening and founder of Farminence, a website about simple lifestyles. “Plant breeders and seed companies have focused on creating more plants that are better adapted to smaller spaces and container gardening over the past decade. These smaller plants are as productive as their larger relatives without the hassle of all this maintenance. “
She adds: “You do not have to spend hours pulling weeds, which can be difficult on your back, knees and hands. It is also easier to handle the amount of water and fertilizer that your plants receive. “
What to choose?
The easiest plants to grow in containers are succulents. If only cactus or jade plants come to mind, there is a whole world of waxy fleshy leaves out there. Succulents called echeverias and aeonium grow in rosettes, some small and dense, others in looser forms up to 18 “wide and come in green, silver blue, pink-lavender or purple-black. They need minimal watering and in summer often sprout coral flowers on tall stems.
Imaginative container ideas, such as shallow bowls, square wooden boxes, vertical hangers and large seashells, and patterns abound in succulents, a book by Robin Stockwell, the retired founder of Succulent Gardens, a nursery near Monterey, California that sells 750 varieties.
Containers made of porous materials, such as terracotta and wood, need more watering, versus plastic, glass or glazed ceramics, says Stockwell, who suggests that you can choose your containers first, perhaps in shades that match your garden or balcony furniture, then plants that complement the.
You do not have to limit yourself to flowers and plants. If you want the excitement of growing your own food, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, herbs such as fragrant rosemary and mint and citrus trees can thrive in containers. Tahitian Orange, which produces small fruits that taste like a blend of mandarin and lemon, is ideal for year-round indoor containers, recommends Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home, a home and garden website. Its pot must be deep enough to balance the weight of the fruit, and it grows best in direct sunlight in front of a window, away from drafts. It can be outside as long as the temperature is on average 68 F during the day and drops to a maximum of 10 degrees at night.
For detailed tips and inspiration, a wonderful resource is the website of the National Gardening Association. In addition to a database of about 750,000 plants, guides for growing each, maps of climate zones, forums for questions and a free newsletter every week, readers read beautiful pictures of flowers and gardens that are their pride and joy.
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