Raised Bed and Container Gardening for Seniors

By Lynn Berry, Extension Master Gardener

Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (MGNV) is pairing with Arlington County’s Langston-Brown Community and Senior Center (LBCC) to assist seniors in planting and maintaining container gardens for vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The LBCC is located in north Arlington at 2121 N. Culpeper Street.

MGNV supplied the Senior Center with especially designed self-watering stacked buckets which the seniors decorated for use as their personal mini gardens. An unused sunny strip between a retaining wall and the LBCC is outfitted with waist-high raised beds to allow seniors easy access the plants.  

MG intern Kelly Rose in action.
Photo © 2019 Lynn Berry

EMG intern Kelly Rose was a major factor in the project’s success. She built indoor seed-sprouting stations for the seniors to start some plants during the winter and gave educational talks about gardening and plant care.

In addition, Kelly and other EMGs meet with the seniors weekly to check the plants, answer questions, and consult with the seniors about future garden plans and projects. For the rest of the week, the seniors care for the garden – watering, weeding, thinning, transplanting and staking the plants.

Even when there is no work to be done, many seniors come out to the garden area daily to check on the plants, compare the plants in their personal buckets with those of their friends, and enjoy the fresh air. Several seniors who have gardened for many years take the lead in maintaining the garden when an EMG is not there.

Two senior participants discuss the plants’ progress Photo © 2019 Lynn Berry

Two active senior gardeners discuss the plants’ progress.
Photo © 2019 Lynn Berry

Green beans at the Langston Brown Senior Center garden. Photo © 2019 Lynn Berry

Green beans at the Langston Brown Community Center garden.
Photo © 2019 Lynn Berry

A freshly prepared hot lunch is provided daily at LBCC to any 60+ independent senior who wishes to come for lunch. By early July, the talented on-site cook incorporated harvests of spinach, Swiss chard, green beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and basil into the daily lunches. Everyone is looking forward to additional harvesting as the garden hits its stride and more tomatoes, green beans, zucchinis, cucumbers, and herbs can be incorporated.

If you would like to see these seniors and EMGs in action, stop by LBCC on Wednesdays between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. You will be amazed at what can be grown in small containers by folks of all ages.

This entry was posted in Balcony/Container Gardening, MG in the Garden, Public Education and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.