I created a new raised garden bed in my yard early last spring. It was a lot of work, but once done was a source of pride throughout the year.
This year, I’ll need to add more soil to my raised bed, but without much extra work it should be a productive gardening year. Now that it’s February, the time has come to plan my 2022 garden. I thought about planting a “Salsa Garden,” as homemade salsa is great to enjoy with so many summer dishes. My 2022 garden will include Roma tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro, basil, oregano, and parsley, as well as some flowers to enjoy.
As I get older, I’ve learned to appreciate the “tug” each year to plan a new garden and have realized benefits, such as de-stressing and connecting with nature. Gardening is great exercise, and it’s fun to create new gardens each year as well as enjoy and share produce and flowers with family and friends. I’ve also been a community gardener over the years, which has added an aspect of belonging and increased socialization, especially appreciated during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. At my Church community garden there are also several waist-high raised beds for growing herbs and produce, making gardening more accessible for those with decreased mobility.
I’ve been gardening since I was a child with my mom, who taught us all she knew, including the “how to’s” of canning and freezing foods after harvest. Mom died last November at the age of 91 years. During her life she loved to garden, albeit in differing ways as she aged. She grew up working on the family farm in Pennsylvania. As a younger adult she hired a local farmer to “till” our garden each year, and later in life she planned and created flower beds in her various homes. The last several years of her life she enjoyed the outside garden at her independent living community in New Jersey, always asked about my gardens and appreciated the pictures I emailed, as well as continued to nurture many plants in her apartment.
Mom had photos and collages hanging in her place of her many gardens in bloom from over the years. She pointed things out about these pictures when I visited and told stories when we spoke by phone about how much she had enjoyed creating those gardens. It was a bittersweet journey of remembrance looking over all those pictures of flowers she had loved when my siblings and I closed her apartment last December.
There are numerous ways, as described above, to participate in gardening as we age and reap it’s benefits, even if one is unable to create and grow a large garden outdoors. I will forever be grateful to mom for encouraging us to garden and tend plants, first with her and later on our own, no matter where we hung our hats.
How will you realize the wonderful benefits of gardening this year? Please find us on Facebook and let us know!
Elaine Wilson, LCSW, CCM
Special Projects Coordinator at CAB