By Angela

2008 Container Garden

During my second year of container gardening, I decided to expand my interests. I grew many of the plants by seed, first setting up florescent grow lights on an old bookshelf to start plants early. While that was interesting, I don’t think I will do that again. The seeds I planted directly outside in the containers at the appropriate time grew much quicker and were healthier.

Another change was that I added a lot of herbs to my container gardens – parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chamomile, basil, dill.

I also wanted to experiment with growing vegetables in containers. A couple of empty bushel baskets were the inspiration behind trying to grow potatoes; I heard of this technique years ago and decided the time what right for planting spuds. I had a little difficulty finding seed potatoes for sale initially. One woman told me she saw some being sold at a Kroger’s grocery store. When I went to Kroger’s and asked someone about whether they sold seed potatoes, one employee said, “Did you check over there where the flower seeds are?” She definitely didn’t know anything about planting potatoes!

Because of my limited ability to drive and shop all over for seed potatoes, I turned to the internet to find seed potatoes as well as directions for how to plant them in bushel baskets. Here I learned more than I ever knew – I discovered that there are purple and blue potatoes whose flesh and skin are these colors! I ordered some of purple potatoes, French fingerlings, Pontiac reds and russet potatoes. I also learned a new word which I had fun with as I told friends that I was “chitting red and blue tubers in my pans for the past few days until my eyes popped out” and asked them if they knew what I was doing. (Answer: I put my red and blue seed potatoes in pans in a warm environment with light to cause the eyes to sprout which would cause faster growth and more tubers.)

Upside-down tomatoes were another project I decided to take on. I definitely received a tough cognitive workout as I tried to problem-solve how to grow a grape tomato plant in a 5-gallon paint bucket with a 3” hole cut out of the bottom.

I also created a bean tower with the help of a neighbor and her two sons who were boy scouts. After we hammered (4) 7 foot long metal poles into the ground, her sons lashed connecting poles at the top and bottom and also tied string from top to bottom so the pole beans plant would have something to direct their growth. I learned about a saying that the boy scouts have when it comes to the art of tying knots: “If your lash is trash, then your frappe is crap.” Yeah, some more cognitive therapy learning new terms: “lash” and “frappe.”

With such grand goals, I had to make 2 separate areas – one for my flowers and herbs and the other for my vegetables. This turned out to be good exercise for me. Because of my problem with my vertebrobasilar artery, I have very few exercises I can do without causing my symptoms to become aggravated which quickly goes from increased tremors to possible collapse. The other problem with many of the exercises I tried was that just a few minutes of exercising would be so wearing, that I was able to accomplish little else.

The container gardens provided exercises of stretching and reaching, walking, stooping and bending over, where I am moving my body to maintain and increase range of motion, and actually accomplish something at the same time. My OT and PT helped me figure out where to strategically place chairs around the yard so that I could sit and rest if I became too dizzy or tired.

Here are some pictures of my container gardening endeavors for 2008 as well as some of the fruits of my labor.

© Angela Cramer, 2008

Tags: TBI, traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury, post concussion syndrome, therapeutic activities, therapeutic hobbies, hobbies for the handicapped, backyard nature, container gardening, growing vegetables in containers, upside-down tomatoes


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