SIGNS OF SPRING
The midpoint of winter is marked by one of our favorite animal friends – the groundhog. This hibernating creature has been immortalized in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day.” In the movie, Bill Murray relives Groundhog Day over and over, for approximately 42 days (it is actually only 36 days by some estimates). Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog and real star of the movie, predicts whether we will have six more weeks (42 days) of winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, then we will have an early spring. And most everyone hopes for an early spring
So, can we consider ground hogs to be a good predictor of spring? Maybe they are just a folkloric part of nature. However, we are looking for those signs in nature to tell us when spring will be here. (It officially arrives on March 20th in 2012). These various signs help us feel better that spring is around the corner. There are other predictors, as well. Have you seen any of the early flowering bulbs begin to emerge? Forsythia starts to flower heralding the advent of the season. I just saw a crocus blooming in my yard. What nature related indicators can you identify?Read more
Sunflowers – an essential part of every therapeutic garden
Hopefully spring will not be that far off. Thoughts are already turning to the garden and what to plant this year. I’m thinking that this may truly be the year of the sunflower. Reading about all of their virtues – it’s surprising that we do not plant more of them in our gardens.
The sunflower flower is native to the Americas, along with blueberries, squash and pecans. Sunflowers are a source of food, such as seeds for snacking, grinding the seed for flour or using the oil for cooking. They can be used as dye for coloring clothes a purple color. Sunflowers are also be used medicinally to cure snakebites. Even the stalks can be used as a building material.
Best of all – sunflowers just make you feel better. Looking at their happy yellow color can brighten any mood. They remind us of the sun with their bright yellow petals. They are cheery and make great gifts. Sunflowers come in a range of colors from yellow to sunset red. Elf is a great dwarf variety to grow with kids. Look for ones, such as especially good for snacking. Be sure to add them to your list of ‘must have plants’ for the 2012 garden.Read more
Community Gardens for the Entire Community
Why not take the idea of community gardens and apply it to the entire community? The town of Todmorden in the UK has created a program where gardens have been started throughout the town and are being used to feed the entire town. The concept is ‘brilliant’.
Think about having garden in everyone’s yard. You can grow things that you like and share extra produce with others. What if you had chickens and could trade the eggs with your neighbor for fresh rosemary, tomatoes or potatoes?
Maybe the elders in the community who have had experience tending gardens and growing vegetables and herbs could use their experience to teach others. Retirement communities could even become classrooms for teaching. And, in turn, school yards become laboratories for learning. Think about all of the partnerships and collaborations that will develop. Parks, fire stations, libraries, churches and other properties should be considered.
I know in my small hamlet of Medford, we have started a garden at our church to feed the needy. All of the produce raised is donated to two homeless centers. The vegetables were raised, in partnership with the Middle School students. We have just expanded the garden to include garden plots for other gardeners to help grow vegetables.Read more
Vitamin D & Exposure to Sunlight for Elders
It is important to remember that Vitamin D deficiency is under treated for elders. Many older adults spend more time indoors and have inadequate intake of Vitamin D. While Vitamin D supplements are part of the solution; most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when ultra violet rays from sunshine meet the skin and trigger Vitamin D synthesis. Elders complaining of unexplained pain, injuries from falls, gait disorders may all be a result of a lack of Vitamin D.
We need to create more opportunities for elders to spend time outdoors. Therapeutic Gardens, walking paths, nature trails, community vegetable gardens, bird watching walks, and other outdoor activities and programs will encourage elders to venture outdoors. Spending time in sunlight is vital to their health and well-being. Including benches and areas for socializing encourage people to spend more time outside. It also helps to include activities that elders would find in their neighborhoods such as putting greens, bocce and croquet courts. Settings also include continuing care communities, assisted living communities and Alzheimer’s residences.
The season of the year, the time of day, smog, and skin melatonin are among the factors affect Vitamin D synthesis. Cloud cover can reduce the suns potential energy by 50%. Shade reduces Vitamin D intake by 60%. Even though we may enjoy sitting next to a sunny window, the sun’s radiation does not penetrate glass. It is estimated that between 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week is helpful for Vitamin D production. Sunlight is best absorbed when the face, arms and legs are exposed without sunscreen. We need to create stimulating outdoor gardens and environments that encourage elders to spend more time outdoors!Read more
Top 10 Gifts for Gardeners – and people who just like being outside:
1. Maine Weather Stick is a natural barometer that helps tell if it is going to rain or will be sunny – Kinsman Company http://www.kinsmanwholesale.com/ ($6.95)
2.Paper Pot Maker tool to roll old newspapers into seed pots (#38-636) – Gardener’s Supply www.Gardeners.com ($19.95)
3. Subscription to a garden magazine, i.e. Garden Gate, Organic Gardening, Garden Design, Urban Farm and many others
4.Digging tools – high end gardening shovels, rakes, hand tools, children’s tools and many other garden implements www.sneeboerUSA.com
5.Chirp! USA features bird songs from across the continental US – This App for your phone can be found at www.spinysoft.co.uk ($2.99)
6.Heirloom tomato, melons, pumpkins, carrots and other vegetable seeds, that offer better taste, quality and nutritional value, www.rareseeds.com
7. The Raised Garden Kit make it easier to grow fresh vegetables and herbs in small spaces and comes in varying sizes, www.xcoutregalia.com ($95.00)
8. The Mobile Edible Walls vertical planters are a great way to grow fresh vegetables in a small spaces, www.agreenroof.com
9. Membership to an arboretum for garden visits throughout the year that will be an inspiration for all gardeners (and friends of gardeners)
10. Schedule a Garden Consultation for the new year to learn how to update and increase activities within the garden, www.designforgenerations.comRead more