Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gardening tips for seniors

But what a joy it is to see the fruits of your labor! As the plants grow, it is better to weed a little at a time rather than a lot all at once. Do the same with your flower bed.

I sprinkle some PREEN around my young flowers and it really reduces the weed growth. I water with a hose because carrying a sprinkler in one hand can twist your neck out of place.

For those of you who develop bursitis in your shoulder or tendonitis in your elbow or a flare-up of arthritis in your knees or hands, we have a new laser machine in our office that is so effective to reduce pain and inflammation.

Cortisone shots are effective, but they have side effects. Laser is much more effective than ultrasound come and see for yourself.

In conclusion, you must look at your specific weaknesses, i.e. arthritis, bulged discs, and decide if you are capable of gardening. Realize that to prepare the soil, have a steady fence, plant, water, weed, and fertilize is a lot of work.

But if you do it gradually, or get a little help, it is good to get some exercise, be outdoors, and fresh vegetables or blossoming flowers is good for the mind and body.

Let me share an observation now. If you give me two senior citizens who have equal health conditions, and one who gardens and one who doesn't whom do you think is happier?

I have observed that a law of nature is to keep in motion. Don't overwork, but don't stop. It is so good to keep active, both for your body, and to keep your mind alert.

I don't know how much money you actually will save once harvest time comes, because there are many expenses to get crops to harvest.

But if you weigh all the pros and cons, you will have flowers and vegetables in your yard until your joints make it impossible to do so. Then I think it will be fun to share your "skills" with your grandchildren on how to have a healthy garden.

This is why Dr. Stacie and I love being chiropractors.

There are so many seniors who think their achy joints and back pain is due to old age. They have been told it is arthritis, to just keep taking anti-inflammatory pills.

But when they come to our office and we gently adjust their spine into place, and they exclaim, " if I knew I could feel 10 years younger, I would have been here sooner." Because with less pain, better mobility, they could work in the garden that they thought was too much for them. Just maybe, articles like this will help you to realize how wonderful gentle chiropractic care can be for you.

With the season upon us

There are many benefits that we all derive from growing both flowers and vegetables in our own gardens.
I love coming home from work and seeing how beautiful the flowers in my front yard are growing. Then I go to the back yard and there is nothing like a home-grown tomato for the salads that I truly enjoy.
Yet, I've learned that everything has positive and negative attributes. Many seniors hurt their backs, necks, or knees due to gardening. So allow me to give you a little anatomical understanding of certain spinal weaknesses I've seen in seniors in my 29 years in practice.
Then we could understand the dos and don'ts of gardening.
A normal aging process in all of us is for our spine to compress due to gravity and our discs get thinner, dryer, and weaker. Remember, we have 25 discs in our spine, they are between the vertebra, and like wet sponges, they act as shock absorbers.
The spine curves backwards in our neck and lower back, yet it curves forward between our shoulders. This curve gives stability to our core, so all of our muscles will function better with a strong cover. Our goal in life is to keep the weight down to not compress the discs even further.
Another goal is to keep the discs from drying out, so I advise 2-3 capsules of Omega III vitamins daily.
In gardening specifically, with the above information, we need to help the body maintain its normal curves.
For example, if we kneel to plant, as we bend over, we force the neck to look down and the waist to bend forward.
Both activities will compress the disc, so we should take breaks often to walk around and let our discs and muscles relax so they won't be strained. In the middle of a disc is a jelly-bean size ball of jelly.
Many seniors have bulging discs or herniated discs, this means the middle ball of jelly has bulged to the side or even ruptured open and pushes against spinal nerves.
So any senior whose MRI reveals they have disc bulges or herniations, they should not garden, in my opinion. They should go to the farmer's market and by fresh vegetables. It isn't worth planting for two hours and hurting for two weeks.
Many seniors have arthritis in their knees, so they can't kneel but they bend from the waist which will compress their lumbar discs even more.
I advise to buy a stool where you could sit to plant, yet it has a bar to help you get up. Many seniors have thin skin, so they should always wear gloves to garden.
With blood thinners, they should protect their skin with long sleeves, long pants, a hat and sunscreen for their neck, face, and ears.
It is important to drink lots of fluid, preferably water or lemonade or Gatorade but not ice tea which will drain your fluids or caffeine which could raise your blood pressure like colas or coffee.
Here would be the ideal picture. You have your grandson dig up the ground and add peat moss or fertilizer, because those bags could weigh 50 pounds or buy a tiller, loosening the soil is repetitive work, and remember our explanation of discs, you don't want to be bent over too long. Most people need to install a fence to keep out rabbits or deer, decide if your grandchild should do that or if you can.
I remember as a kid, we would collect the rainwater in 50 gallon garbage cans by the rain gutter and use that "natural" water to water the plants during dry spells. i do believe rain water has less additives and chlorine than tap water.
Plant the plants gradually, make some rows, put in the seeds, cover them up, while standing up to stretch and relax your muscles.
Moderate activity is good for osteoporosis, it will keep you bones stronger and the vegetables will help you with calcium intake.

Timely gardening tips for where you live

The seed catalogues have arrived and the snow is piled high. It's time to dream about spring. Think about diversifying your garden this year by ordering some of the hundreds of wonderful heirloom vegetable varieties. Note the date when stored and canned vegetable crops are completely consumed and plan accordingly. In late January get your seed-starting equipment ready and start hardy greens and cold tolerant flowers like pansies and primulas. Improve your seed germination with a heat source such as an electric heating mat. Nearly every type of garden plant germinates faster and better with a week or two of 80 to 90 degree soil temperatures. Indoor house plants and window gardens typically need less water and fertilizer this time of year since growth slows down with shorter winter days. Outside, shovel snow onto perennials to help protect them from harsh winter conditions.
North Central and Rockies
If snuggling in with seed catalogs fails to satisfy on dark winter days, try growing fresh herbs or greens indoors. Success will depend on providing enough light-a south-facing window is usually not enough. Instead, use florescent lights and keep the tubes as close to the plants as possible. An inexpensive timer is handy to turn on the lights for 12 to 16 hours a day. Start a few extra-early tomatoes and peppers in January, picking varieties that can be container-grown so they can be brought inside or protected during chilly spring nights. (See Page 52 for more seed-- starting tips.)
Pacific Northwest
Start seeds now for hardy vegetable transplants for a late winter garden. Outside, protect winter crops of lettuce, greens and hardy coles with floating row covers or a cloche system. Keep harvesting and thinning the root vegetables and notice how sweet and flavorful they are this time of year, with sugars and nutrients concentrated in the roots. Be alert to a break in January weather and plant your early peas, selecting enation virus-resistant varieties. Celebrate the start of a new year with a generous clipping of flowering quince or other early spring flowering shrubs for forcing. if it's been cold and dry let the branches soak in slightly warm water for an hour. Soon bouquets of colorful swelling buds announce spring is just around the corner.
Snow and hard frost challenge gardeners located above 4,000 feet, but most Southwest areas below 3,000 feet are great winter garden territory. Vegetables to plant now include broccoli, root crops, greens, onions and onion sets, rhubarb roots, lettuce, peas, fava beans, potatoes, garlic and shallots. Winter is the prime time to transplant bare-root fruit trees and establish hardy perennial plantings. Native perennial bunchgrasses are beautiful and drought resistant for drier parts of California and the Southwest. Incorporating these grasses, native wildflowers and other drought-- adapted perennial plants into your landscape will preserve scarce water resources and make yard work much easier. In the low desert, gardeners can start thinking about starting eggplants, peppers and tomatoes indoors. Hot pepper fans may want to try the orange manzano or rocoto pepper from South America-a new variety especially adapted to the region. It's an ornamental plant with dark green, fuzzy leaves, blue flowers and orange, thick-fleshed, juicy-hot, apple-shaped fruit.

New gardeners almanac

New England & Maritime Canada

Snow is flying and gardeningchores are reduced to watering the window pots of parsley, sage and Thai hot peppers brought in from the garden. It's time to enjoy last season's harvest and start planning for the next. A personalized planting chart will help you know when to start seeds for your garden and how many plants you will need. Rule a large sheet of paper with columns for each vegetable you plant, and mark rows for each month. For each crop, mark the dates you start seed, transplant and harvest in the appropriate columns and rows. Note the size of your planting and if the amount harvested met your family's needs. With a few years of fine-tuning for extra-early crops, main crops and fall plantings, you will have a seasonal task calendar exactly suited to your individual site and tastes. (See the chart on Page 57 for more tipson garden planting times.)


December is the time to garden on paper. Pay attention to what problems you experienced last year and try to plan a rotation with these in mind. To discourage scab on your spring potatoes, plant them where your late corn grew. Early root crops are a good choice to follow winter squash since that area will tend to be low in annual weed seeds. Go through your stored winter vegetables every week or two, culling out the bad ones. Save seed for planting next year from your best open-- pollinated winter squash as you eat them. In mid-January, start bulb onions from seed indoors or in a greenhouse. Take advantage of the first warm spells to sow some cold-tolerant lettuce and Chinese greens outdoors.

Southern Interior

Here in the South, where setting out plants at Easter is a rule of (green) thumb, midwinter is prime indoor sowing time for those seeds that take a bit longer to get started. Begonias take 14 to 16 weeks to mature, so seeds started on New Year's Eve will be blooming in your hanging baskets and window boxes by mid-spring. 'Dragon Wing' begonia is a spectacular new pink hybrid to try, with enormous plants that drink up our southern heat and humidity. Start geraniums, lisianthus, aquilegias, pansies and vincas before the end of January. Pick a sunny, dry day to prepare vegetable beds for spring crops. Except for the Piedmont and other cooler areas, January is time to begin planting cabbage, carrots, lettuce and hardy greens, radish and turnips. So when those tempting catalogs appear in the mailbox, do more than just dream about spring planting-start sowing!

Gulf Coast

Keep an eye out for freezing temperatures. Cut back tropical plants and winterize your tender plantings with layers of mulch. (Keep a cover handy for when freezes are predicted.) Don't fertilize warm-season turf-grasses now: They have entered dormancy and any forced growth is vulnerable to freezing. Prune ornamental evergreens and plant pansies and other cool-season bedding plants. Tulips and hyacinths that have been chilled for six weeks should be ready to plant by late December. Prepare vegetable beds for spring planting before late winter rains make soil too wet to work. December is time to plant onion transplants, hardy greens and root crops, and start seed for cabbage-family transplants. Later in January, start planting potatoes and lettuce, and sow seed for tomato, pepper and eggplant spring-garden transplants.


WHERE IS ThE bEST SPOT TO lOcATE my PlANTS? PRIMROSES bring a splash of colour to any garden but be careful when deciding where to plant. Use in shaded areas to brighten. Make sure that they are not placed too deeply in the soil, set them at the level already in the pot. This avoids getting the leaves too wet and prevents rot from taking place.
whAT cAN I DO wITh flOwERS? WhEn primroses have finished flowering in containers, the plants can be lifted out and planted in the garden to flower again. The plants don't live long. Protect from slugs as they often like the shaded areas associated with primroses.

Get gardening tips at Spring Fair

Inspiration and tips galore await gardeners at the Spring Fair in Puyallup this week.
The Garden Show encompasses 16,000 square feet of booths, gardens and displays, according to garden coordinator Andrea Bosley.
Here are the top five things not to miss:
1. Display gardens: Visitors can see a container garden featuring spring flowers by Vassey Nursery in Puyallup, a landscape by Clover Park Technical College and a container garden by the Washington State University Pierce County Master Gardeners.
2. Gardening celebs: Ciscoe and Marianne Binetti, whose column appears in The News Tribune, will headline the expert gardening workshops on the Garden Show Stage. On Saturday, Ciscoe will broadcast his KIRO Radio show, "Gardening with Ciscoe," live from the fair starting at 10 a.m., and answer audience questions starting at noon. On Sunday afternoon, Binetti will lead workshops on "How to Eat Your Front Yard," "Incredible Edibles" and "Container Gardening."
3. Floral displays: Commercial florists will assemble gorgeous blossoms and greenery into displays based on the theme, "Napa Valley." Wild orchids, lavender, jasmine, honeysuckle and other plants found in California's famed wine country or in the Mediterranean promise to delight the nose and eyes.
4. Information booths: Nonprofit gardening groups will dispense advice. Gardeners can learn bonsai basics at the Olympia Bonsai Club booth. Puyallup Valley Rose Society members can recommend which roses grow best in the Northwest. Visitors can see live bees at the Pierce County Beekeeper display or watch koi swim in the Puget Sound Koi Club's pool. The Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers will share tips on nurturing your own huge pumpkin. The Pierce County Master Gardeners will be out in force, giving demonstrations on stage and at their booth on topics ranging from "Growing Fuchsias" to "Square Foot Gardening."
5. Stuff to buy. Choose from an array of garden-related wares. Vendors' merchandise will include garden flags, flower bulbs, plants, ornamental trees, gardening tools, antique wheelbarrows, gardening books, flower pots, vases, water containers and much more.

Tips and Techniques for Seniors and the Disabled

Tipsand Techniques for Seniors and the Disabled
Joann Woy. 1997; 214 pp. $16.95 ($20.95 postpaid). Stackpole Books, 5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17o55, Soo/732-3669, fax 717-7960412, sales@stackpolebooks.com, www.stackpolebooks.com.
When I was recovering from a back injury, this book would have been a godsend. In fact, some of the specifics would be useful in avoiding the sore muscles and strains that accompany gardeningin general. Accessible Gardeningprovides great ideas for those who want to garden from wheelchairs, who use walkers, have trouble bending, or have reduced wrist or leg strength. To say the least, this is a very useful book with helpful sections on how to modify tools, surface paths for safety and beauty, raise plant beds to reduce stooping, and create accessible garden and garden path layouts. Many of the suggestions make gardens more intimate for any user.