I was reading my April 2014 copy of Alabama Living and came across an interesting article written by Alabama writer Katie Jackson. The article, Don't let aging or disabilities keep you out of the garden, brought an aspect of our motto "gardening made easy" that I felt was important enough to share with all of you. The article addresses the fact that many of us, as we get older, will encounter changes in health and/or living conditions that will greatly limit our abilityto start and maintain a garden.
"Change in our gardening lives is inevitable and can take many forms. For some folks, a life change of moving to an apartment, retirement or assisted living community or any place that has little or no yard may make it difficult to garden. For others, physical limitations brought about by aging or illness can make gardening harder.
Regardless of the gardening challenges we may face, though, there are ways to keep our hands and souls in the garden. It'sjust a matter of modifying our approach...."
This section of the Scoop will share parts of Katie Jackson's article with you as well as provide additional suggestionsto make gardening easier when you face limitations.
To start, evaluate your surroundings and your limitations (limited space, time, mobility, etc.) then put together a plan that allows for the best use of what you have to work with.
If limited space (and/or yard) is your issue, indoor gardens or potted plants on your patio or balcony mightbe a great way to let you grow both edible and ornamental plants. Here vertical gardens works well. Plants thathang, climb or are in tree form can give you lots of gardening in a small area.
No matter where you plant your garden, always be aware of the needs of your plants (sunlight, watering, etc.)and make sure the locations you choose for your gardens and the plants you place in them are compatible and willgive you the best performance. Also, be sure you allow for easy access to all of your plants for watering, maintenanceand harvesting (fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc.). Things like hanging baskets, plant stands and tables can help with both efficient use of space and accessibility.
If physical limitations and/or poor health are putting boundaries on your gardening, those things that make forgood gardening with limited space will help (indoor, patio or balcony gardens, vertical gardens, etc.). However,you also need to address the issues of navigation and ease of upkeep.
Raised Bed Gardening "If the available gardening area is larger, but difficult to navigate or manage, identify areas that are the hardest to maintain and figure out strategies to reduce their need for upkeep, such as decreasing the amount of lawn that needsto be mowed, making flower beds smaller and less labor-intensive or replacing high-maintenance plants with more easy-care species. Consider also developing paths or walkways that are easy to negotiate with a wheelchair or walker, installing ramps or handrails at steps or steep spots in the landscape, and adding extra seating in the garden area so you can take a rest or work from a seated position rather than having to stoop or kneel.
Once you have an idea of where to concentrate your gardening efforts with more ease, then it's time to employ some planting strategies. For example, if limited space is the problem, one of the easiest solutions is togarden in containers. Pots, window boxes, hanging baskets or any other kind of plant-friendly container canbe used indoors or out—in kitchens or on patios, for example—to grow everything from houseplants and other ornamentals to fruits, vegetables and herbs. Be sure to choose containers that are easy to moveor place them where they are easy to access. Raised Garden Beds
Raised beds are another great solution for space or physical limitations. These compact little growing spacescan be installed almost anywhere and can be customized to varying heights and widths so they are easy to access from a seated or standing position. And growing fruiting or flowering vines on trellises Wheelchair Accessible Garden Beds or adding an espaliered fruit or ornamental tree can also be a beautiful and functional addition to a user-friendlygarden.
Not only can spaces be adapted to our needs, but so can tools. There is an entire market for what are knownas 'assistive' or 'adaptive' garden tools, such as specially designed clippers, rakes, shovels and other hand tools and easier to maneuver garden carts and wheelbarrows. There is even an item called Garden On Wheelz which is a portable garden that can be used indoors or out for small-space gardening and to aid folks with physical limitations."
Time limitations can be as large an obstacle as any other limitation. If your garden takes more time to start and maintainthan you have to allot it, the garden is destined to fail. Rather than simply not starting, determine how muchtime you can and would like to devote to your garden then carefully plan a garden that can be set up quickly andeasily and requires minor maintenance. To this end, potted plants and raised flower beds can be quicker to setup than going through the steps to prepare an area and its soil for planting. Potted plants and tree-formed plants usually require less maintenance than plants in the ground (however, potted plants do often require more watering).
Choosing plants that require little upkeep can greatly reduce the amount of time you spend in your garden. Plants like daylilies, coleus, and many herbs can be planted and ALMOST ignored. Do a little research at your library,on-line or just ask friends and family to determine what plants do well in your area and require the least amount of work.
"No matter our circumstances, it's nice to remember that gardening does not have to be a struggle and can actually be a healthbenefit for us all. Not only is it good for the body—an hour of low-impact gardening can burn 150 caloriesand just 2 or 3 hours of gentle gardening each week can help reduce the aches and pains associated with arthritis and other physical problems—it is a great way to relieve stress and nurture the mind and soul."
With a little planning and some ingenuity, limitations like space, time and health can be overcome so that no matter whenor where a gardener is in their life, they don't have to stop gardening.

Gardening with Limitations