Tips for Seniors: Springtime is Here

homefinalIt’s springtime and the perfect time to plant a patio herb garden.

Herbs are beautiful to look at, add a great aroma to your patio, are easy to care for, inexpensive, and provide nutritious, and delicious flavors to all of your meals and drinks.

For seniors who have patios or back yard areas planting in a raised container on a stand or a large pot on a table top will decrease the requirement to bend over or get up and down from the ground. Be sure to get some help setting up when carrying and loading the soil into the container. You can use an apron with pockets to transport a hand trowel and gloves along with a couple of packets of seeds, or fill up a gardening basket in the carry pocket or basket of your wheelchair if use one to get around.

Check with your local garden center to see if they will deliver your soil and supplies to you if you are house bound. Often they will accommodate. If not call your local Boy Scout, Girl Scout or Rotary Chapter. They always have volunteers to help you.

If you live at a senior facility ask your care providers for assistance in setting up your herb garden. The bounty will be enjoyed by you and your community all summer long.

How to begin:

Get a couple of large pots or containers with holes for drainage to put on a table or buy stands to go with them.
Buy pre fertilized organic soil about five pound for each container.
Chose the herbs that you would enjoy to smell, look at and eat. You can plant seeds, or already grown starter plants.
Always wear gardening gloves.

To plant:

Fill your container with soil to the top, water, make a hole, add a plant just up to the top of the root, or three seeds one inch deep, cover with soil. Put a little plant marker next to it that you can make with a Popsicle stick so you know which herb you planted where.
For seeds, you need to keep the soil moist, cover with some plastic wrap until they are two to three inches high, and protect the new shoots from the burning sun. For starter plants, keep moist and just watch them grow. You might protect your herbs from direct sunlight in the hottest hours of the day if you have a very sunny spot, with a white umbrella or reflective scrim, while they are young, otherwise the more sunlight the better.

What to plant:

If you like rich smells in your garden and fun herbs for to add to your lemonade and ice tea plant lemon balm, mint, and spearmint varieties. Basil gives great flavor to drinks too, and is delicious in salads, sauces and with mozzarella cheese. Parsley is a fabulous and versatile herb for salads, cooking, freshening the breath, and just on top of a baked potato. Lavender smells great and can be used in drinks, dried and left in dishes in the house for sweetening the air, or cut fresh to place in a vase. Coriander is the same as cilantro and is very flavorful, and its great for cooking as is oregano, thyme and sage. They are all easy to grow and beautiful to look at. If you are adventurous you can plant a few flowers plants in with your herbs too and make a gorgeous display.
Growing herbs and flowers is relaxing, enjoyable and an economical activity. Eating herbs is both nutritious and delicious. Getting out in the sunshine also increases your levels of vitamin D and makes one feels great. Just be mindful of the heat, don’t stay in the sun too long, and wear your sunscreen and a hat.