Gardening

Horticultural Therapy – How It Works

Posted by on Jun 4, 2017 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health | 18 comments

Horticultural Therapy – How It Works

This article – Horticultural Therapy – is a guest post by Stephen Pettengill, a Certified Horticultural Therapist. Let me give you a little bit of Stephen’s background in his own words: “Growing up in southern Oregon, with ‘the woods’ right outside my back door, I developed an affinity for nature and outdoor activity.  There were caves to explore, tree forts to play in, streams, rivers and other adventures. I felt at home in nature, and loved the physicality of working outside. This led to a lifelong study of horticulture and design. At an early stage in my career, I wanted to combine my interests in gardens with psychology; the adventure of the mind! I wanted to learn more about how best to create meaningful, even transformational interactions with the natural world, not just a pretty garden. I have an interdisciplinary degree (Business, Gerontology, and Environments) from Marylhurst University and at the age of 50 I completed an HT (Horticultural Therapy) program. Currently, I live in a community called Ananda, where I use my skills to help enhance the environment and organize community activities.” The Nature of Things Horticultural Therapy For Seniors – How It Works. ‘True sanity is rooted in the natural world’ Andy Fisher, from Radical Eco-Psychology. They say that gardeners live longer. True or not, gardeners are always looking ahead, adapting to changes and attuned to the slow rhythms of the natural world; things that bring quality of life. Academics are working to understand the impact of nature on the human psyche, with research growing showing the effectiveness of engaging with the natural world. Even small things make a difference – for instance: Fish tanks in doctors’ offices are known to calm patients. A study called ‘A Room with a View’ showed that prisoners who had windows in their cells had less anxiety and less violent behavior. Realtors know that a tree lined street has intrinsic value to a neighborhood. In 1984, Edward Wilson, a Harvard University conservationist, first coined the term Biophilia: ‘the urge to affiliate with other forms of life’. The theory that we have an innate need to connect with nature and other forms of life is shared by a growing number of professionals. Nature therapists say we have allowed ourselves to disconnect from our environment for a variety of reasons. This can lead to a host of physical, emotional, or mental issues. Social norms and lifestyles that are out of sync with laws of nature (sleep, food, sex, e.g.) come at a price to our health. Additionally, a culture of hyper-individualism can foster disengagement from our surroundings, including other people. Isolation and loneliness are common issues among senior populations yet we live in a society that needs engaged elders. On top of this we have an increasing technological society. A new challenge for humans is emerging that we barely understand (we often adopt new technologies before we know its full impact on us). With so many changes going on it’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose our center.  ‘Getting grounded’ in the natural world is a way to help us transition from adulthood to elder-hood and possibly help heal a lifetime of being out of balance. What is Horticultural Therapy? My passions are nature (includes food!) and psychology. Where these two intersect you can find several evolving fields of study and practice. Environmental Psychology, Eco-Therapy, and Horticultural Therapy (HT) are disciplines that use plants and natural environments to help people become grounded, or rooted, in nature. This practice of Horticultural Therapy has been around for centuries. Activities using plants can be adapted to...

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Gardening for Seniors – Adjusting to Limitations

Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs | 19 comments

Gardening for Seniors – Adjusting to Limitations

  Adapting to limitations has to be the gardening senior’s biggest annoyance in addition to being an ongoing challenge.  Just when you’ve adjusted to accommodate one problem another one pops up and you have to try something else again.  Seniors come with a bunch of different physical or mobility problems so for them to continue to garden safely means adjustments geared to each individual. I’ve had to adjust many times the older I get. I started with “in the field” gardens, moved on to raised beds set on the ground and next moved up to the current garden beds raised to table height.  My gardens have also become smaller each year. This year I won’t grow any vegetables as I did in the past but concentrate solely on my salad and herb gardens.    Garden size becomes another limitation.  Seniors often downsize and move into smaller townhouses, apartments or condos where they feel they no longer have the room to garden, so they quit. Gardening is such a healthy activity with both physical and psychological benefits that seniors should be encouraged to carry on. Putting one of the methods shown below in place allows the small size gardener to continue. When my parents moved from their country home to a city apartment you could tell where they lived from a mile away – mom’s balcony was a blaze of colour, flowers of every kind growing in pots and placed everywhere, even hanging from the balcony rail. The smaller area certainly didn’t stop her from enjoying her flowers. Gardening for Seniors – Adjustments: Most seniors find bending over difficult which makes the garden beds raised to table height ideal. The beds can be built any size, even as small as 1 or 2 feet wide by 3 or 4 feet long. For details about raised bed gardens, click here. The senior should be able to reach the centre of the garden without leaning on the soil to prevent compacting the soil. My gardens are 4 feet wide but that is because I can walk all around them and easily reach the centre from both sides. For anyone able to access only one side or for those less mobile, 2 or 3 feet wide will be the better choice. All walkways should be kept clear to prevent falls and to never obstruct safe movement, whether walking, using a walker or in a wheel chair.  Gardens should be placed in the most convenient locations – especially salad and herb gardens which should be close to the kitchen door for easy harvest. If space is limited any of the gardens shown in picture 2 are an attractive alternative. A previous post “vegetable gardens for small space gardeners” details how easy it is to adopt the alternative methods. When large patio pots are used they should first be placed on wheeled platforms. We seniors are a determined lot and if we don’t like where a planter is situated we’ll do what we can to move it. Having the wheeled platform will help avoid muscle strains, damaged backs or worse. A super idea is to wrap the handles of garden hand tools with bright coloured duct tape. This serves two purposes – it makes it easier to keep track of the tools and also provides a better grip for arthritic hands. Electric tools shouldn’t be used. Older hands can’t always be counted on to do what’s required and they may let go at the most critical times which could lead to serious injury. Instead use manual tools – not necessarily specific garden tools either. A couple of...

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Add Beauty To Your Yard With Shade Loving Herbs

Posted by on May 14, 2017 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Herbs | 27 comments

Add Beauty To Your Yard With Shade Loving Herbs

In Ontario, where I live in garden zone 5, the gardening season kicks off on the Victoria Day weekend (this year May 20-22). At that time all the garden centres and nurseries will be offering huge deals on plants of all kinds, including vegetables and herbs. When I was asked to share this infographic  about shade loving herbs I was delighted to accept – it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m sure this information will help many decide which plants to choose during the sales, making this infographic not only informative and fun to read but even help the bottom line. Hard to beat that combination, enjoy………Lenie “In our infographic below, find out which herbs and plants will do best with limited sunlight, including roots like ginger and ginseng. Our guide has a comprehensive list of which herbs thrive in the shade, including their grow zones, size, planting characteristics, and uses. Herbs that make good cooking ingredients such as cilantro, dill, and rosemary tend to thrive in the shade, as well as herbs used to brew teas such as lemon balm and even catnip, which isn’t just for cats! We also have tips for making sure your shade-loving herbs flourish. Shady herbs tend to grow tall, so be sure to give them adequate growing space and support. Keep in mind that herbs that grow in the shade tend to prefer moist, humus-rich soil. Read the rest of our tips and then get ready to start planting!” Source:...

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Blending Edible Plants with Ornamentals

Posted by on Jun 12, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Herbs | 29 comments

Blending Edible Plants with Ornamentals

Designing a beautiful landscape can feel overwhelming to non-gardening experts. But designing a landscape that seamlessly integrates edible plants? That may seem unrealistic—but it’s not. Here’s a great place to start: Understanding the basics of line and form in your outdoor spaces. There are different types of lines—curves, straight, vertical, horizontal—as well as forms. Those work with structures and plants to create pleasing visuals. And while many people assume that most fruits and vegetables must be planted every year, there are edibles that grow multiple years in a row. That can help when designing a landscape that has consistency from year to year. Although many people plant edibles for the harvest, there are considerations of height, color, leaf structure, and more to consider, and how those can accent the plants you have already in the landscape. In addition, many edible have flowering times, which can be a great complement to other blooms in the yard. Whatever your approach to landscaping, this graphic can help you integrate more plants to harvest in your yard.   Source: Fix.com Blog When I was asked to publish this infographic on my post I was delighted to comply. It’s exactly the kind of information that’s great to share. Instead of adding it to the sidebar I decided that the infographic would be the post. Attractive, colourful and loaded with useful information to make blending edible plants and ornamentals easy. What’s more, we all know the cost of fruits and vegetables have gone way up and from all reports, will continue to increase. Isn’t this a beautiful way to control those costs? Talk to you again next week, Lenie If you liked this post, others will too. Please share. Save Save...

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Compost Tea – Perfect for Suburban Gardens

Posted by on May 15, 2016 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living | 25 comments

Compost Tea  – Perfect for Suburban Gardens

Compost tea is an inexpensive, easy-to-make, fast-working plant food that results in nutrient rich soil and strong, healthy plants. Every book or article written about organic gardening includes the need for adding compost to the soil. Easy enough to understand why since compost truly is a marvelous soil amendment – it improves nutrient retention of the soil while adding many beneficial organisms making for a more productive garden. However, most municipalities have bylaws that prohibit homeowners from having compost piles in suburban areas which makes compost tea such a great alternative.  A compost pile isn’t required. With compost tea only one or two purchased bags of top quality compost will do. Add non-chlorinated water (rain water is free and perfect for this) and the right size pail and you’re set to go. Before getting to the Compost Tea recipe, there are a few things to know: Compost Tea does not keep – when it’s ready you need to use all of it so make it in batches small enough to meet your immediate needs. There’s no sense wasting any. The finished tea should not bubble or have a foul odour. That may mean it could be anaerobic and not much good can survive in that. If it has become anaerobic, throw it out and try again. Make a test batch. A large coffee can or similar size container is ideal. Fill the can 1/3 full of compost, then fill the container with non-chlorinated water. Stir well with a stick, really move all the ingredients around. The stirring is extremely important as it aerates the tea and adds oxygen. Stir well several times a day for a week. After 5 days to a week strain through a cheesecloth or strainer, rake the solids into the garden and pour a cup of the tea around each of the plants you want to feed. To Make the Compost Tea: Work only with clean materials. You can use any size container depending on the size of your garden although a five gallon pail or garbage bucket is used most often. As in the test batch, fill the container 1/3 full with compost, then fill the pail/bucket with non-chlorinated water. Stir well. Place in a handy location so you don’t forget about it. The compost will settle on the bottom of the pail so stir 3 or 4 times the first day, making sure to move all the compost around, it needs to be well-mixed, then stir several times a day for the next week. Check often. After 5 days to a week, strain the tea. The easiest way is to line a cheap colander with cheese cloth and just empty the tea into a very clean pail or bucket. Dump and rake the solids into the garden. Use all of the tea to feed your plants, about 1 cup per plant. Strain some of the compost tea into a spray bottle, add 1/2 teaspoon of dish detergent and spray on plant leaves to deter foliar disease. Feed your plants and leaves every couple of weeks all summer long. This can also be used once a month on houseplants. Note:  You can increase the nutrient value of the tea even more by adding powdered seaweed or worm castings to the finished tea. Start a new batch brewing a week before you need more or better yet, split the garden up, feed half one week and the second half the second week and keep a continuous batch of compost tea brewing. Both the finished compost tea and the discarded solids will add valuable nutrients to your...

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The Cook’s Herb Garden

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Bookshare, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Herbs | 28 comments

The Cook’s Herb Garden

The Cook’s Herb Garden is another DK book that I’m delighted to share with you. Now is the perfect time to prepare the summer’s herb garden and this book is filled with step-by-step pictorial instructions for choosing, growing, harvesting, storing and using herbs. Herbs are probably the easiest plants to grow since they really don’t like a lot of fussing. Most grow best in a 50-50 well-draining mix of sand and soil, require regular watering and an occasional feed of liquid fertilizer in summer. That’s it, couldn’t be easier. Images below from: The Cook’s Herb Garden – copyright 2016 Dorling Kindersley Inc – used with permission and with thanks.  The Cook’s Herb Garden – Everyday Essentials: While basic growing, harvesting and cooking instructions are attached to each herb listed in the comprehensive herb catalogue, everyone of those topics is described in greater detail further on in the book.  One of the things I really like about the section on using herbs is the recipe section. There are some super recipes that I haven’t heard of before but can’t wait to try: Cream of Herb Soup; Watercress Butter; Chimichurri (Argentinian Meat Sauce); Black Currant Cordial; Mixed Herb Pesto, shown below; plus many more. Suggestions for using the Everyday Essential Herbs shown in planter: Cilantro: Use fresh, chopped leaves in salads, with coconut, citrus, avocado, fish and meat. The dried seeds are spicy, sweet and mildly orange-flavored – use them in Indian and Asian dishes. Thyme: Add to any savory dish or use to flavor poultry, pork, and fish dishes; add to stuffings and vegetables. Flat-Leaf Parsley: Both the stems and leaves can be added to a multitude of savory dishes; from omelets to stews to baked fish. Sage: Chop very fine and use in small amounts. Add toward the end of cooking to risotto and pork, veal and venison dishes; pick a stem for bouquet garni; use dried leaves for stuffing, poultry, fish, potatoes and carrots; use flowers to make summer teas. Purple Basil: Basil is best known for use with tomatoes. Basil’s flavor intensifies when cooked. For a more subtle taste use it raw or add it at the end of cooking. For more ways to use basil check out Basil does it all Oregano: Oregano’s pungent, spicy flavor gives a unique lift to Mediterranean ingredients and dishes – pizza, pasta, fish, meat beans, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Mixed Herb Pesto recipe, from The Cook’s Herb Garden, uses basil, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, and garlic – all herbs that you can easily grow yourself. Toss the pesto with pasta, stir it into rice or use as salad dressing (whisk 1Tbsp. balsamic vinegar or lemon juice into 3-4 Tbsp. pesto.) Serves 2 Prep 15 MINS Cook 20 MINS 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped basil 2 tsp. coarsely chopped oregano 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley 2 garlic cloves Coarse sea salt 1 ¾ oz (50g) Parmesan cheese, grated 3-3 ½ oz (90-100ml) fruity olive oil Freshly ground black pepper 10 oz (300g) dried pasta 1 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional) Put the herbs in a large mortar, reserving 1 Tbsp. to finish. Smash the garlic with the flat of a knife, peel and add to the mortar. Sprinkle in a little salt. Pound down onto the mixture until it is mushy. Add the Parmesan a little at a time and beat vigorously to blend. Slowly beat in the olive oil until you have a thick coarse paste, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. of the cooking...

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