Archive | June 2014

Horticultural Therapy and Therapeutic Gardens


Reprinted with Permission of the National Garden Board:

 

Therapeutic and Healing Gardens

We hear time and again how gardeners use their garden spaces to unwind from their day, get away from it all, relieve stress, etc. So it’s no surprise to us who already enjoy gardening that working either indoors or outdoors with plants is good for the body and soul. In fact, we just read this blog post by Jane Gates touting all the health benefits of home gardening. These days, there is more and more research showing how gardens and garden tasks can play an extremely important role in healthcare, treating ailments and afflictions, teaching or re-teaching physical activities and even providing occupational training for the future. This is known as Horticultural Therapy.

According to a more precise definition by the Chicago Botanic Garden, Horticultural Therapy is the professionally directed use of plant, garden and nature activities to achieve measurable physical and mental health outcomes. Gardens built to achieve those outcomes are often called therapeutic or health care gardens and are designed by horticulture/landscape professionals in conjunction with health care professionals.

There are numerous terminologies attached to this area of garden design and function so we will define a few of the different types of gardens that are similar to therapeutic gardens:

Healing gardens – A garden that supports generalized healing by helping patients who have had physical, mental, emotional or spiritual harm become healthful, well and whole.

Rehabilitation garden – A garden used as therapy to restore a patient’s mobility.

Enabling gardens – A garden used to teach and inspire accessible gardening by example.

Meditation/Contemplation garden – A garden space that encourages reflection for spiritual and mental healing.

The basic premise is the same, and that’s to use a garden (ornamental or edible; inside or outside; small or large) as a tool for physical and mental healing. Some garden tasks are perfect for someone with limited mobility and will possibly allow them to continue to live on their own and grow their own food. A beautiful garden setting with the right amount of sun exposure can aid healing in patients young and old. Simply having a garden on site of a hospital, rehab center or retirement home (to name a few) encourages getting outside and soaking up the sun. A teaching garden within a school will teach life and survival skills for children of all ages, abilities and economic backgrounds.

In some recent research on the topic, we’ve found multiple sources of useful information.

The American Society of Landscape Architects is an organization for professional landscape architects, the ones who design therapeutic gardens, and has this article on defining a Therapeutic Garden.

The Chicago Botanic Garden not only has an Enabling Garden on their grounds (read about it here) but also offers a Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program.

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network is an online community of people and companies interested in using horticulture as therapy.

For professionals, there is the American Horticulture Therapy Association that assists their members advance the practice of horticulture as therapy.

All gardeners should understand the many ways gardening is beneficial and encourage the establishment of therapeutic gardens in their own communities. National Garden Bureau is passionate about inspiring more people to garden and horticulture therapy just gives us one more great reason to promote gardening. The more we know, the more we can help!

National Garden Bureau’s Pinterest board on Special Needs Gardening has many links to other gardens using plants as therapy and inspiration!

Let’s Go Garden!

Growing Bull’s Eye Rose in a Large Container


“Is a Bull’s Eye Rose suitable for a large container?

Ron”

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Hi Ron,

Thank you for your question regarding the Bull’s Eye Rose.  Container gardening is a great method for growing roses, as it brings the beauty and fragrance of roses into outdoor living spaces and right up to eye level. Potted roses can be grown in any sunny location: on a deck, terrace, patio or roof garden. It is a good option for anyone with limited garden space, poor soil or drainage problems, or apartment-bound gardeners. Bull's Eye Rose

Unfortunately, Bull’s Eye Rose is not a good choice for growing in a container.  Roses that work well in containers need to be 4 feet tall or under, as the height of the pot plus the height of the rose should not exceed a gardener’s height because one still needs to be able to easily care for and spray the rose. Bull’s Eye comes in at around 4-5 feet. When you add that to the height of the pot that would be needed (around 30-36 in tall), you have a rose that would be about 7-8 feet tall. It’s just not a feasible plan.

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

Calculating Your Yield from A Packet of Dry Bean Seed


“i’ve planted some dry beans.  we have been storing some in our preparedness suppiles.  however, my garden is just an average size, and i question whether or not i have enough planted to make it worth while. how do you calculate your yield from a packet of seed?

lynn”

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Hi Lynn,

Thank you for the email regarding dry beans.  In general, a packet (1 or 2 ounces, depending on the variety) will plant about a 20 foot row.  From there, that gets a little bit more tricky, as each variety kind of has it’s own range for yields.  In general, pole beans will have more pods than bush beans because there is more biomass available for pods to grow on.  In terms of the soil you have, heavier soils with more clay will have a little bit less yield than a sandy soil because there is more of a risk of various bean diseases and root rots.
dry beans
In general, based on my own gardening experience, I yield about 1/2 to 3/4 of a brown paper shopping bag off of a packet of bush beans and about 3/4 to a full bag off of pole beans.  The lower end of the range is from when I was living in an area with very heavy, black clay soil, and the upper range from when I was living at our current home with sandy loam soil.  Once the beans are thrashed, I usually have about 1 to 1 1/2 plastic ice cream pails (5-quart type) from the bush and 1 1/3 to 2 full plastic ice cream pails from the pole beans.  Again, it varies depending on the variety, with the larger beans producing more pails of beans.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have particular varieties that you are interested in, let me know.  I keep garden journals off of my gardening yields for fun and can easily look up particular varieties to see how they perform.  Also, if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

Tassel Color on Corn


“I planted one pack of Blue Dent corn early this summer and it has grown great thus far. One plant has a blue tassel and blue shucks on the ear. the rest of the plants have white tassels and look like normal sweet corn. Does it dry to blue or is something wrong with the plants?

Thanks,

Michael”

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Hi Michael,

Thank you for the email regarding your Blue Dent Corn.  First of all, it sounds like your corn is doing good, so don’t worry.

blue dent cornBlue Dent Corn is usually white with a hint of blue/purple tint to the white.  By this, I don’t mean that the color is blue or purple, but that the white has that hint to it.  Once the kernels mature and start to dry, you will see the blue/purple color enhance in the kernels.  The reason why this occurs is because the sugars that are in the kernel when it is young are white.  There is a little bit of starch in the kernels too, so that is why it has a blue/purple hue too.  As the kernel matures, the sugars are converted to starch, so the blue/purple color becomes more visible.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

 

Unsized Seed, Checking Hot Peppers, Grafted Tomatoes, and Pellet Ingredients: Obscure Gardening Info


“Hello Mertie,

I like your writing style and your dry humor. You seem to know a lot about seeds and plants, so I have a few questions for you.

1. What is unsized seeds? I’ve seen this in carrots, cole crops, and lettuce.

2. What is checking on a pepper?

3. Are grafted tomato plants worth the extra money and fuss?

4. What is the pellet on a seed made from? Is it safe for my organic garden?

Thank you for all your great articles,

Joe”

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Hi Joe,

Thanks for your questions and kind comments.  As for your questions:

1.  Unsized seed means that the seed has not been graded to a certain size. You often will see this with corn and other crops that are planted with equipment. When machinery was first brought about, your planter had a plate on it that required a certain size of seed. If your seed was to large, it would not go through the plate and would jam things up. If it was too small, the seed went through the plate too quickly and the seed spacing would be off.  For the smaller seeds like carrots, cole crops, and lettuce, it just means that some of the seed will be larger than others.  It doesn’t meant that some of the seeds (larger) will be better than others (smaller), so there are no worries with buying unsized seed.

Planting Plates

2. Checking on a pepper is often seen on the –good– varieties of hot jalapeno peppers.  Checking can also be refered to as corking or cracking on peppers by gardeners, but the seed industry calls it checking and will often put the term in seed/plant descriptions.

Jalapenos naturally produce checks/corks/cracks in their skin. The characteristic checking which may appear undesirable (to gardening novices) when harvesting is nothing more than the fruit working towards maturity. When choosing jalapenos to harvest, note that the more mature fruits will have some checks around the stems. These checks should not be a cause for alarm as they are part of the fruit’s natural maturing process and any jalapenos with checking remain safe to eat, as the browned tissue of the fruit are not perforations but discolored, dried cells on the skin of the fruit.Jalapeno

Checking in the jalapeno skin can also be used to judge the heat of the fruit. Each jalapeno becomes hotter the longer it is allowed to mature. When the fruit is fully ripe, it is the hottest that the variety can produce. So, the more mature the jalapeno is, the more checks it has and the hotter the pepper will be. Chefs sometimes use the checking to determine which peppers have the greatest chance to be hot.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that all jalapenos have checks. New hybrids that are being out on the market are being created to “look pretty” for the uninformed gardener.  Gardeners that don’t know much want a perfect green fruit, but then don’t understand why it is not hot. Well… they kind of go hand in hand…  =)

 

3.  Grafted tomatoes. Ha! To be honest, for most home gardeners, I don’t recommend them unless you have done your research and know that you really need them in your garden.Grafted Tomatoes

Grafted tomatoes (along with peppers, eggplants, and melons) started in the hydroponic industry to a.) reduce the amount of soil borne diseases, b.) reduce the need for crop rotation, and c.) increase the health and production of heirloom varieties. Soil borne diseases run rampant in hydroponic setups. And I am sure you are wondering why, as there is no soil. Well, 99.9% of soil borne diseases are caused by the presence of water at the wrong times.  Think of things like tomato blights: having wet leaves at night causes the blight, not the soil that it comes from.  Having a super-soil-borne-disease-resistant root stock allows for lower incidence of disease and less spraying.  This ties directly into crop rotation, as having issues with a disease in a particular hydroponic greenhouse results in the crop causing the issues to be moved to successive greenhouses (or other sections of the same greenhouse) over the next few years. If you are a smaller operation, you have to have numerous other crops (at least 3) to cycle with the disease causing crop so the same crop won’t be in the same place for at least 3 years.  Most often commercial growers graft the heirloom varieties to make them more tolerant of ‘unusual’ conditions. Most heirlooms were developed in someone’s backyard, where they were used to a nice breeze, good sun, and the occasional rain shower. Putting an heirloom into a hydroponic greenhouse is a shell shock to the plant. There are numerous ways for it to become diseased and the environment is starkly different than what it was originally adapted to.  Grafting an heirloom scion onto a disease resistant rootstock allows the plant to be less susceptable to disease and have a growth habit similar to a hybrid tomato. Also, heirlooms are said (by the industry) to produce less fruits per plant compared to hybrids (guess they never looked at the ones in my garden). Grafting increases the amount of fruits produced.  The extra cost of the graft is covered by the premium price that heirloom produce brings in.

So how does that translate to a home gardener?  If you have had problems with soil borne diseases in the past in your garden and it is not large enough to have a 4 year crop rotation or you grow only a couple plants, you may want to consider grafted vegetables. They are more expensive ($8-9 or more per plant), so you need to balance the cost with your gain. However, if you are someone that can rotate your crops, do not have severe disease issues, or you grow more than 2-3 tomato/pepper/etc. plants, I don’t recommend it. It’s just not worth it.  I don’t grow them in my garden and would never.

Also, from my experience, many home gardeners have had issues initially with the graft drying out if the plant is not kept well watered. With non-tomato grafted plants, the plant is completely dead.  With tomatoes, the scion of the plant dies and the rootstock may begin to grow.  If you are not keeping a close eye on your plants, you likely won’t notice it until your plant produces fruits and the fruit is not the variety you bought.

4.  Seed pellets are made of clay with a colorant painted on the outside. They are generally considered safe for home organic gardens. If you are an organic farmer, they are allowed only if the company you are purchasing the seed from does not offer the seed raw (unpelleted).Seed Pellets

I hope this information helps you out. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!