Don’t let space, knee problems ruin your gardening | NevadaAppeal.com

Don’t let space, knee problems ruin your gardening

JoAnne Skelly
For the Appeal

Are you tired of battling critters eating your vegetables or flowers? Is your back sore from bending over to garden? Are your knees uncooperative, making it difficult for you to squat while gardening? Or, do you have only limited space for a garden? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, gardening in containers may be the solution for you!

I will plant my vegetables in large containers this year, because last year rabbits and squirrels ate all the vegetables in my garden. Granted, just putting my vegetables in containers won’t eliminate all varmint damage. But, since I will be putting the containers in an area where my dog “patrols,” the animals will be less likely to get at the plants very often. In addition, I can put cylinders of screening around the plants. Then, the pests won’t be able to get at them from the top or by digging through the bottom!

Sometimes, our hearts want to garden, but our backs and knees resist with aches and pains. If you are unable to bend or squat to garden, bring the garden up to you. Using containers can reduce the physical strain of planting and maintaining vegetables or flowers. You can sit next to large containers to work on your plants. You can hang smaller containers at a height comfortable for you. Or, plant window or railing boxes for an easy reach. Wall-mounted baskets are another option.

If limited space is your gardening challenge, use containers and go vertical. Use trellises or cages. Or, make towers, teepees, or fences. Be creative. Tie up tomatoes, cucumbers, or beans. Pole beans actually do best when grown vertically. If it’s flowers you are after, train a clematis vine up a trellis and plant lovely bedding plants around its base to keep the soil cool. The possibilities are endless.

When choosing plants for containers, look for smaller varieties. After all, you are giving them limited space for their roots. If reaching above your head hurts, choose plants that don’t grow too tall. Check out the seed packets or seedling labels to find out plants’ mature heights. A 10-foot tall bean plant could be a problem!

Choose large pots with drainage holes. Use a good potting soil, not native soil. Water almost daily, because pots dry out quickly, especially clay pots. If you really want to go hi-tech, design a drip system for your containers. There are many kits available at the nurseries. Monthly fertilizing is recommended. Don’t let your body or space constraints dampen your gardening spirit. Try planting in pots!

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Meet me at the Carson City Community Garden, 1044 Beverly (east of the cemetery), 5:30-7 p.m., June 12, for a tour and talk about growing vegetables. There are a few garden plots remaining at the community garden. The fee is $10, and you must be a Carson City resident.

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For information on the community garden or gardening, contact me, 887-2252 or skellyj@unce.unr.edu, or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at http://www.unce.unr.edu. “Ask a Master Gardener” by e-mailing mastergardeners @unce.unr.edu.

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City / Storey County Extension Educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.