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Help - Question about Hanging Vegtable Gardens for Seniors

Hi Everyone,

I am writing this on behalf of my mom who is in her mid 60's and is having trouble physically cultivating her garden. If you don't want to read a little background please skip down to the last two paragraphs.

My parents live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and currently have a 20' x 40' vegetable garden. For the last couple of years I've been hearing my mom complain that the garden is just getting to be too much for her physically. Getting on her hands and knees almost daily and tending to the plants and the weeds is just getting to be to much. She complains her back and knees hurt and that at the end of the day she is just too exhausted. My dad doesn't help much either except to till the ground a couple times a year.

My mom REALLY enjoys gardening and has been for most of her life. It is a chance for her to get out of the house and stay active with something she loves to do. They also enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables she harvests each year. She usually grows strawberries, blueberries, and grapes, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, watermelon, bell peppers, peas, beans, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli. I'm sure I missed a few.

Anyway, I was talking to her today and she said that she doesn't think she will plant a garden this year because she can't keep up with all the work. I could see the disappointment in the face because I know how much she enjoys it. My mom really needs to get out and if she doesn't have a garden she'll just sit in the house all day.

I was thinking about setting her up with a hanging garden. Supports made out of 4"x4"s for the hanging fruits and vegetables. She could then reduce the footprint of her garden and still grow those few vegetables on the ground that wouldn't I think do well in a hanging pot like watermelon, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.

Thing is my mom doesn't like to try anything new. So I have to convince her that the hanging garden will keep her off the hands and knees for the most part, that weeds will be minimized and that she will produce an abundance of fruits and vegetables. If this fails... There won't be a next season unfortunately :cry:

Now Ive seen conventional hanging pots and the bucket style pots where the fruit or vegetable comes out the side or bottom. What is best? Yields the most harvest? Easiest to maintain? What specific type of fruit or vegetable (like type of tomato plant) is best suited for this type of growing?

I need to act on this soon as the growing season is about to begin.

Thanks a bunch,

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Personally, I would prefer two or three nice raised beds, no more than 3 feet wide, that were built high enough to allow me to sit comfortably on the edge of the frame as I weeded and tended the plants. JMO.

Not having anyone to build the beds for me, however, I choose to simply garden in containers. It has worked well for me for quite a few years now. If my back is bothering me, I can sit on a stool while I tend the plants. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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I've had knee problems (and hip problems) since a car accident in '95 (and a bicycle accident in '84). One major assist I gave myself was purchasing a plastic seat for a 5-gallon bucket. It converts the bucket into a seat! So I can carry tools, whatever, to the garden (all of 30 feet from the back door), take them out, and sit on the bucket.

I don't have to kneel, squat, or any of those impossible "knee" positions. I just sit and lean over to do my weeding, planting, etc. Yes, I get up and move it when I've done all I can from a certain location, but it's better than the big NOTHING I got accomplished for several years, when I didn't even have this much....

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Or you can do highly raised garden beds, which would be like a deep tray on legs, which you can build to whatever height you want -- standing height or sitting height.

Here's a couple samples, but it wouldn't be hard to design your own out of whatever materials you can come by. Just remember it has to have drainage and if you are building out of wood, you will need to line or seal it to protect it from the moisture or it will rot out quickly.
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you can buy variants of cynthia's idea. I have one about like this:

[url=]rolling garden cart seat[/url]

It is handy to be able to sit and work and it holds your supplies/tools at the same time.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: Facebook page I manage for them: Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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I have bad knees and I am about your Mom's age. I use knee pads and that helps. I have seen a variety of items that allow one to sit and garden. I have one that I can kneel or sit on by turning it upside down - one is for kneeling and one for sitting. In either position, it is easier to get up and that is often the difficulty with "bad" knees. One problem with some of the seats is that it can add stress to the back so you would definitely want her to try one before you buy it. My husband helps me a lot and that might be helpful to your mother - having an extra pair of hands and stronger knees and back.

Maybe the best approach is to ask her what you could do to make it easier for her.

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When you get old it is hard on the back to bend over if you make raised beds they need to be 3 ft high so she does not have to bend over.

I crawl around in my garden on my hands and knees like a little child and set on my butt in the dirt. Sometimes I take a lawn chain in my garden to set on.

Probably all you really need to do is till and plant the garden for her and she will do the rest.

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