Clarke, D., Lindsay, A., Mazzullo, N., Montana, C., O'Callaghan, A. 2020, Healthy LIVING While Aging! (2020/10), Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 10

Easy Gardening for Autumn

Lower temperatures make autumn a terrific time for gardening and spending time outside, while our plants continue to grow merrily. Growing plants should be a leisure activity and with a little help, it can be, despite having issues related to our aging.

Before starting any physical activity, gardening in particular, loosen up your joints and do some mild stretches.

“Ergonomic” tools and tips are designed to make gardening less difficult, limit repetitive stress on our joints and help minimize some of the aches and pains we might feel. Wear gloves, especially since hands often get blisters when gripping or sliding on the handles of tools such as hand gardening tools, shovels, and rakes. Applying a coat of liquid rubber to handles can keep hands from slipping. Attach extension handles to gardening tools since longer handles minimize stressful arm, shoulder, or back movements. Try to keep your wrist straight, fingers slightly curled and relaxed, not bent or twisted to minimize wrist pain when holding tools.

Gardening can also entail bending and lifting. Always be sure to lift, bend and move correctly.

Instead of a big garden, consider using a couple of large pots, perfect size for a patio garden. Filled with a good potting soil, they can produce spring through fall. If you can protect them from the colder temperatures as the weather changes, they will often continue producing during the winter!

Should you have enough room, try using raised beds, no more than four feet wide and ten feet long. The soil can be as deep as you want, but rarely needs to be more than two feet. Filled with well-amended soil or mix, raised beds can be as productive as a small farm. Be sure to use your ergonomic tools to help you do the lifting, moving, and cultivating work.
If you have an even larger garden area, use it. The options of what you can grow is only limited by your imagination.

Gardening offers so many possibilities to seniors. Whether you use small pots, large pots, raised beds, or large garden areas, growing the right plant in the right space, using the right tools, we can all enjoy our fall gardens! happy gardening in the months ahead.

By Angela O’Callaghan, PhD

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Healthy Aging

The Healthy Aging initiative offers physical activity and nutrition education, and health promotion to seniors throughout Nevada. With funding from the Nevada Division of Health and Human Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), Healthy Aging programming provides skills that support making healthy eating choices and encourage an active lifestyle.


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