Aging Successfully: Gardening systems for the non-gardener

  • Wednesday, June 24, 2020 1:30am
  • Opinion

By Crystal Linn

For the Sequim Gazette

First, congratulations to contest winners Bonnie Glendenning and John Troberg. Already people are asking for another contest, so keep reading.

What are your thoughts and attitudes towards gardening? Personally, I love gardening and it makes me sad how this enjoyable activity must go to the bottom of my priority list. Distant rumors of the coronavirus affecting food harvesting and production adds to my frustration of not growing my own food.

The wonderful news is while doing my research for this column I discovered two amazing methods for simplifying gardening. My new indoor gardens are sitting side-by-side in front of my south-facing windows and are thriving.

Like any gardening method these two systems can be as simple or as complex as one chooses. For myself and for this column I choose simplicity.

Edible houseplants

It is astonishing how many edible plants can be grown indoors in a container of soil, just like a houseplant. All that is needed is the correct amount of light, water and nutrients. The instructions for each plant are easy to obtain. Since this is a new endeavor I started small. My plants are thriving. The chives and strawberries grew new flowers within the first week.

Some foods which are easy to grow indoors are: bell peppers, carrots and ginger along with parsley rosemary and salad greens. All leafy herbs and some fruit trees grow well indoors.

Kratky hydroponics

In my opinion this “hands-off” system is phenomenal and will allow anyone of any age to successfully garden indoors or out. No pumps or other gadgets are required which means no electricity.

Elderly people with arthritis can do this. People with ‘black thumbs’ who normally kill plants can do this.

A person needs only five things to create this simple hydroponic system: water reservoirs, net pots or other containers to house the plants, some medium to support the plants, water and hydroponic nutrients. Depending on the chosen water reservoirs a covering may be required.

For my first attempts at this I decided to go cost-free and used items I already had on hand.

For the water reservoirs I used canning jars. For the net pots I used yogurt containers and cut holes in the bottoms. I used gravel for my support medium.

Any container can be used from recycled plastics to large totes with lids.

Once all of the materials are collected, place the seedlings or plants in the net pots and add the support medium. Then mix the nutrients in the water and fill the water reservoirs. The trick is to not fill the entire container with water. It is critical for the water to touch the roots and still leave air space between the plant container and water.

In the simplest terms, this is developing an air plant. If you are using canning jars or any light-absorbing containers for the water reservoir they must be covered with something to keep the light from developing algae in the water. I used black felt but newspaper or aluminum foil works fine.

Any plant that can be grown hydroponically can be grown this way, including squashes and melons.

Dr. Bernard Kratky is a researcher with the University of Hawaii. When he developed this system he called it a non-circulating method. As people learned about this method they began calling it the Kratky Method.

Contact the Master Gardeners of Clallam County or research online to learn more.

Share your easy gardening tips with us at information@crystallinn.com; we read and reply to every email.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family.

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