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Written by Mike Clark

This is the third installment in our series on Gardening for seniors. Gardening has become so sophisticated in recent years. Farmers are growing our food in so many different ways today that just didn’t exist a couple of decades ago. There is hydroponics (an area that I am very familiar with) aquaponics, aeroponics, raised beds, the list could go on. In this blog though, we want to talk about container gardening in this blog.  

No matter what living situation you are in, the chances are you could have a container with a plant in it. Container gardening has grown in popularity over the past few years in the United States. We could link this to the growing senior population, but I think most people just like eating something fresh or growing something on their own. Planting flowers, vegetables, or even herbs in containers may be the perfect new hobby for you.  The great thing about container gardening is that even if you have a limited amount of space, you can grow something that tastes good or adds some color and greenery to your space.

Benefits of Container Gardening

Container gardening is a good alternative to gardening in the ground. The good news is, you don’t have to be a gardening expert to raise vegetables and ornamental plants in containers. Here are some benefits of container gardening;

  1. You don’t have to wait on weather conditions to be perfect to start your container gardening, you can get started anytime. If the weather turns cold again all you have to do is cover your plants or create a mini greenhouse with clear plastic over your plants.
  2. Container gardening is not restricted by yard space. Even if you only have a balcony or porch, it is possible to have a sizable container garden. It is even possible to grow plants indoors near a window. You can also mix different varieties of plants in the same container. This is called companion planting and can produce a higher yield.
  3. You can use almost anything as a container for your planting. All you need to do is make sure that the container that you choose is durable, clean, and has proper drainage. Some everyday items that could be used are: buckets, trash cans, large flower pots, grow bags, plastic pails, animal feeding containers, etc. You need to pay attention to the plant size when choosing a container. You don’t want to put a large plant in a small container or it will not have enough room to grow. You may want to put your larger containers on a roller pot caddy to be able to move them with ease once they are full of soil and plants. You will have far less weeding to do in a container garden. Due to a smaller surface area, it is less likely that weeds will find their way into your containers. If they do, it is far easier to weed a container than a dirt garden or raised bed.
  4. Container gardens are great for beginners or novice gardeners. If things do not work out or the plant dies, all you have to do is re-seed.
  5. Wildlife is less likely to feast on your container garden than a garden in the backyard. Deer, rabbits, and even pets off the leash can sometimes destroy or eat up your plants in larger more accessible gardens.
  6. You are able to eat something that you grew. Having your own vegetable plant in a container on your balcony and producing something edible is extremely satisfying. Something you grew yourself may even taste better.

As the number of seniors in the United States continues to grow so does the popularity of container gardening. I believe that this is due to the fact that seniors love getting their hands in the dirt and growing their own tomato to eat or flowers to enjoy.  

Vegetables That Are Great For Containers

There are many different varieties of vegetables that thrive in containers, here are a few suggestions – beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, green onions, lettuce, peas, peppers, tomatoes, squash, and many more. Make sure you do a little research to see what types of vegetables and ornamental plants are suitable for your area.

Gardening Can Improve Your Health

Not only are the fruits and vegetables that you grew yourself better for you and a more healthy choice, but gardening also improves a senior’s physical and mental well-being.  Gardening helps maintain fine motor skills and research indicates it helps reduce stress, depression, anxiety, calms the mind, promotes relaxation, and improves overall mood.  Other benefits to this popular pastime are improved attention span, increased self-esteem, as well as promoting social interaction.

Gardening is a great hobby for older adults, especially those that love being outside, getting their hands dirty, and learning new ways to improve their health. It is a great social interaction for seniors in retirement communities as well as around neighborhoods. Many retirement communities have designated areas for their residents to have container gardens or raised bed gardening. Even seniors with physical disabilities and limitations can enjoy container gardening, keep your eyes out for the last blog in our gardening series on April 29th. In the last blog, we will discuss how gardening can be done by seniors who have physical limitations such as wheelchairs, we may even be hearing from a special guest who knows about this from first-hand experience. 


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Dwell at Home is not a licensed medical professional and all information provided is provided “as is” with no warranties. You should consult a licensed physician for any questions related to your health.  Dwell at Home makes no guarantee about any application or third party web site mentioned in any article on this web site.