Gardening is one of those hobbies that catches the interest of a wide age range of people, from small children who are enthralled watching seeds sprout and grow, to retirees who are looking for a leisurely, relaxing hobby that keeps them active and gives them a chance to get outside. It provides a number of physical and mental benefits, helping to enrich the lives of more than 78 million people, making it American’s favorite leisure outdoor activity. But no matter the age, nor the level of gardening expertise, there are some basic ideas that can help to make the hobby more enjoyable and easier for everyone.
To start with, having good gardening tools – and the right ones especially – is one of the simplest ways to make gardening better. Like any other project around the home, the right tools are key. It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money right off the bat but instead focus on what’s essential; as time goes on add to the tool collection as needed or budget allows. To get started it’s best to have a trowel for planting, a mini fork to loosen soil around plants and remove weeds, and pruning shears for trimming foliage off plants. If the garden area is larger a shovel and hoe will be handy too, making quicker work of tasks such as planting and weeding. When purchasing tools look for lightweight, well-constructed gardening implements that are made from stainless steel if possible; a comfortable grip is important too as it helps lessen hand fatigue. Paint the handles in bright, fun colors to make the tools easier to find when they are set down on the ground. When they are not in use, store the tools in a bucket of sand to keep the edges sharp and free of rust. Another must have gardening accessory is a sturdy pair of gardening gloves. A good pair of gloves will keep hands cleaner when working, and protect them from blisters, splinters and pesky thorns.
People enjoy gardening because it gets them outside, letting them enjoy the beautiful weather but it’s important to keep this in mind at the same time. Most of the time spent in the garden is obviously going to be during the spring and summer when the weather is nice. While gardening it’s easy to overlook how much time has been spent outside, more often than not in the direct sun, which can lead to heat or sun related problems such as dehydration, sunburn, or heat stroke. If possible try to limit the time outside during the most intense part of the day. Early morning and early evening are great times to get outside and spend some time in the garden tending to plants. If the midday can’t be avoided make sure to drink plenty of water to keep dehydration at bay, take breaks periodically to get out of the sun, and either apply sun block frequently and liberally or wear long sleeves if possible to protect skin from sunburn.
One of the greatest parts about gardening is that it can be tailored to the needs of the gardener. Raised bed gardening and container gardening open up many options for seniors who might not have the ability to garden in the traditional sense. To make gardening areas more accessible, especially for people with physical limitations or limited mobility try adding raised garden beds to the space or think about container gardening. Both options raise the soil surface up off the ground making it easier to plant seeds or seedlings, to weed, to water, or to simply enjoy the garden plants in general. Container gardening has an added benefit since pots are easy to move around, allowing for quick rearrangement of the garden space to change the aesthetic or to move plants to get better sunlight. When container gardening, it’s a good idea to invest in high-quality, heavy duty plant caddies to roll plants from one spot to another.
One thing people don’t often think of, but can be a very useful idea is to keep a garden journal. As time goes on, a gardener will constantly learn new things that can prove to be valuable in their future endeavors. Keeping a gardening journal tracks what is planted, when they plant it, what fertilizers are applied and when, and overall observations or problems encountered during the growing season. This gives them a record they can look back on when they have problems or questions about how they did something. A garden journal can be as simple as a notebook purchased from an office supply store or a more expensive journal designed specifically for gardening.
Providing a wide range of physical and mental benefits, it’s easy to see why gardening appeals to people of all ages. The enchantment of planting seeds into the soil and watching them germinate to grow into mature plants never fades as time goes on, and it’s a wonder that occurs over and over again. Gardeners from the smallest children to the well-knowledgeable and experienced retirees can enjoy this leisurely pastime even more if they implement some of the aforementioned basic tips.
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The arrival of autumn and the corresponding end to the summer growing season doesn’t mean that gardeners have to hang up their tools for the winter. Planting bulbs in containers for early spring flowers is a great way to extend the gardening season into fall/winter while getting a jump start on garden color in the spring!