Wintertime poses a hard climate to stay active and have fun in, especially for seniors. Because seniors are stuck indoors because of the cold for a month at a time, their mental and physical health can often decline. So what's a senior to do?
A senior-friendly activity we recommend is gardening – yes even in the winter. December 5th marks World Soil Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about soil quality. One of the most vital parts of our ecosystem, soil affects everything from water and food to climate change.
So what do you do if your climate isn’t mild and there’s snow on the ground (Hey, we can’t all retire to Florida!)? Well, start an indoor garden! There're many benefits to gardening in general, but especially indoor gardening like increasing oxygen production, lowering Alzheimer’s risk and demolishing depression. Sign us up! Gardening is a family-friendly activity and can encourage intergenerational quality time between seniors and children.
Here at Oaks Senior Living, we LOVE to garden! During the summer months, you'll often find many of our residents in the courtyards tending to tomato plants, lettuce, and other delicious veggies. It's also not uncommon to see plants throughout our residents' apartments.
So how can you get the same benefits at home? Let's look at how to start your garden:
Decide what to plant.
Before you run off to the store and buy your supplies, consider what you want to grow. How much light does your house get? Ivy, pothos, ferns and peace lilies are all good low light plants. Next, consider what space you have to start a garden. Do you have room for a large plant, multiples or would a window box work better? Once you've decided what you can accommodate, decide if you would like something pretty to look at or something to eat! Seniors can significantly benefit from fresh vegetables and fruit. Lemons, carrots, micro greens, tomatoes, and herbs can all grow indoors. Finally, if you have pets be sure to pick NON-poisonous plants.
Pick out your container.
What you plant will dictate what kind of container you should purchase. Different types of plants require different kinds of planters. Once you've decided on what container you need to buy, check out retailers such as Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart and Amazon to find the right fit. Planters range in price from a few dollars to well over one hundred. Luckily, since we are planting indoors, lightweight and inexpensive options such as plastic or wood will be sufficient. When in doubt – get bigger and wider than you think you need so your plant has room to grow.
While buying your planter, also pick up the rest of your supplies you need. You will need: seedlings (or seeds), soil, watering can and your planter. Optional items include gloves, hand trowel, and clippers. You're almost ready to start planting!
Time to get your hands dirty!
It's the moment of truth, time for some actions! If you can bend down safely, consider setting up on the floor with lots of space. If not, clear off your counter or dining room table. No matter your location, be sure to put down newspaper or sheets to minimize the mess. Now go to town! Start with a little dirt in the bottom of your container and then place your plants in. Add soil around your plants (or cover your seeds), make sure the start of your plant's roots are about an inch to two inches below the lip of your pot. Give your new plant a little water and set them near a window.
Decide a maintenance plan.
Your new plants should have come with a tag that describes care needs. If you are concerned about remembering when to water them, consider marking a calendar as a reminder. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy your hard work!
Gardeners will tell you that the hobby is known to be meditative and something they look forward to doing on a regular basis. Start small and don't be surprised if your apartment starts looking like a beautiful garden soon.