Thursday, April 7, 2011


When I got into my mid 40's my arms suddenly lacked length. I had to push reading materials farther and farther away from my eyes to be able to read the print. I held out till I was finally reduced to throwing things on the floor to be able to read them. Not cool with food packages. Yep, the eyes were going and glasses were called for. I adjusted.

Some time in my mid to late 50's, old buddy Arthur Ritis came to visit and never left. He was fondest of my hips but then when I tamed him with OTC Glucosamine, he moved into my back where those meds couldn't reach him. My ability to handle physical work for long periods like before, slipped each year but I refuse to yield. I adjusted.

So when my back said to leave the Garden Club and Master Gardeners, I said OK but I am not giving up with personal gardening. Up until this year, I could still do the chores of gardening with just frequent breaks and long soaks in a hot tub required. Now while I am still capable of the necessary chores, I just need to rest more often and I do pay a physical price for each weeded flower bed. I hurt and needed to adjust.

Each evening I would go to bed stiff and sore but would awaken in the morning out of pain, feeling fine and thinking once more, “Hay, I can do this” so I would repeat the process. If laziness is the mother of invention, pain is the daddy. This year I am trying something new. Eye level gardening. That was my adjustment.

Now I have all ready planted my two raised beds for my veggies. Just barely peaking from their soil are the tiny versions of carrots, onions, potatoes, and kale. The raised beds are relatively easy to work. Once planted, there is almost no weeding and very little tending outside of watering and harvesting. But then I thought, what if I didn't have to bend at all?

I have a wrap around porch on my house which is perfect for hanging baskets. Now I usually plant them in colorful annuals for eye appeal. As I was cleaning up the baskets for the new season, I thought, why not veggies? Ok corn is an obvious “can't do” but surely there are a lot of other plants that would work and with prices set to really escalate, more veggies seemed like a good idea.

I started with Romaine lettuce and onion sets at first plus some herbs. I planted way too early and this screwy Spring had me hopping to save the tender plants.

Every night I would move the baskets against the wall of the house, protected by the porch. It was only minor weight lifting and the plants thanked me by surviving. At that time, I had only 6 hanging baskets.

Now I am up to 12 baskets and have included Kale, Roma tomatoes, sugar snap peas and red lettuce. Each basket is an experiment but my Net searching has reinforced my theory.

Naturally this is not a gardening method for one who has a large family or who wants to can and preserve, but for one or two people who want fresh produce, it is perfect. No place for hanging baskets, why not just a container?

Pros—Complete ease of handling and harvesting. Rabbits can't nibble your new plantings and slugs seem to have a fear of heights. So far, I have yet to have an insect problem though I will admit it is early yet. These baskets can really be quite attractive. I can't wait for later in the season. Care is totally convenient as I just walk out the door to tend and harvest. They require very little space.

Cons---They are container plants however and need a bit more supervision regarding watering and fertilizer than in ground plants. They do dry out quickly.

Just some food for thought and maybe the table. Get those hands dirty folks. Prices are going up.


  1. Oh Patti, I love your posts. You write in such a delightful way.

    I laughed at the "Arthur Ritis" buddy... you are so creative!

    In my documentations at the nursing home I use the word "adjustment" and "coping" often. I can relate to the adjustments we have to go through as we age. I'm 46 but I start feeling episodes of pain, and fatigue that come along with the pre-menopause. My eye sight has changed dramatically, unless things are close to my nose I see them blurry, and I still refuse to wear glasses at all times, only for driving. Therefore, I have "adjusted" at seeing blurry faces all the time...silly, isn't it? LOL

    Your place is lovely. Gardening is food for the soul, isn't it?

    I want to recommend you a neat post: "Old women" at Deb's blog:

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :-))


  2. Tip of the day. I had hanging baskets at the cottage. I was only there on weekends, so watering became a challenge. My friend suggested lining the bottom of the planter with a baby's diaper. (Unused of course) It works, they hold the moisture very well.

  3. I think the hanging baskets is a great idea, and I look forward to a picture of them in all their glory! I'm nearsighted and take my glasses off to read things up close. I had to laugh at Doris' comment. I also read catbirdscout and enjoy her take on aging.

  4. I love my container easy...and this year i'm planting squash in baby wading pools...give it room to run....


  5. What a dear picture of your porch and hanging baskets. You are so clever. All my hanging baskets wither and die. Of course, DUMMY.... (talk'n to myself) you have to water them. This year I've started basil in the house. I say that as I look outside at the couple inches of snow we had last night. Have you ever wanted a little green house? i've mulled that idea around a little but that would most likely wither and die also. Water, water, water.
    Love and peace

  6. Me too, me too. We have a container garden even if I do have little hands (grands) to help with the weeding. I just hate having to fuss at them to get it done "my way". you know...all the weeds...silly old woman. So this way I can do it my way and still have veggies. It's an old broad win. Your porch is lovely. I love the idea of hanging you got me thinking. That could mean trouble. THE OLDE BAGG

  7. Sounds like a perfect solution to me. Very creative.

  8. Hi Patti, I'm well acquainted with ole Uncle Arthur myself. To the point where I wake up at night with pains in the hips, depending on which side I'm laying on. Ugh!! Mama's a grouchy lady when she doesn't get enough sleep!

    I'll be watching with interest to see how your container gardening goes. Looks like something I might want to try for a few herbs. I wanted to try raised garden beds this year. Our soil isn't the best for gardening and stays wet too long in the spring. By the time we get anything planted, if the deer don't eat it up, it's almost too late. We have success with a few tomatoes plants in a corner next to the house. I gotta have my tomatoes.

    Have a good week.

  9. I've had trouble with my back after weeding in the past year. I never thought of "no-bending" gardening. Of course, it's all a matter of adjusting. What a great idea!

  10. Perfect solution! I'm sure you'll invent an automated watering system one of these days. Those greens are worth the attention.

  11. I am planning to make some adjustments with my planting this year--bringing high water requirement plants closer to the water source. I had a little container garden while in Florida and it worked out quite well for fresh herbs and peppers. I brought home tomatoes wrapped in newspaper and they are ripening indoors now. It will be a full two months before I can safely plant anything outdoors here.

  12. Loved your post! We really do have to make adjustments with time and age. I imagined myself tap-dancing through retirement, but reality in the form of Arthur Ritis, who has taken a fancy to my feet, intervened. But container gardening is the best! And what a lovely garden you have.

  13. I could read your blog all day, but time does not permit. Also, your blogs are not that long, at least when you write about gardening. So you get Romaine and I get fungus. Sounds like Arkansas is a healthy place. Just don't hop in the sack with Arthur anymore. The wages of sin and all that. Dianne

  14. Have you considered straw bale gardening. I've used it for years now, and love it. My prior garden was mostly rock with a small amount of hard clay soil. Straw bale worked like a charm. Here is one of several sites that can get you started

  15. Very creative way to grow some veggies, Patti. Container gardening is pretty interesting. I've always admired people who could mix colorful veggies with some flowers too.

  16. Patti,
    I as well miss the gardening as intensely as I did it in Ohio...I blamed it on the heat and drought but perhaps it is becasue of Arthur Itis...he certainly isn't veyr freindly is he? I have it in my knees and back; UGH!!!
    Thanks for the laughs...I love the idea of hanging baskets for the bunnies and as we have it; deer!

  17. Patti, you are absolutely brilliant! Food to eat in hanging baskets. You just might win the green earth award. On another topic, I think longevity goes to she who can best adjust.

  18. What a great idea. I tried squash but the deer thought it was delicious.

  19. Hold my hand,
    Thanks so much Doris. That is funny. Sometimes I wish the people looking at me saw blurry faces.
    Thanks for the link. I checked it out and it was a really nice post.

    Darn, I have them all filled now but when I change crops I will try that. Great idea.

    Thanks, it has been a fun experiment. I'm farsighted so I am just the opposite.

    Blue Ridge Boomer,
    Now that is a novel idea and a good idea for the sprawly type of plants. Thanks.

    Yep, they do get cranky with out water.
    I have a storm shelter I have thought of putting grow lights in but so far haven't. Someday.

    Linda in NM
    I know. They try but bless their hearts, little ones often leave the roots or just don't get all of it.Glad containers work for you.

    Thanks. So far so good. We will see how time treats the project.

    I knew a "farmers daughter" would be one to try gardening. I use raised beds for we grow an excellent crop of rocks here.
    Uncle Arthur needs to get a job and move out.

    Thanks. So far it has been a blessing to my back. Hope it works for you.

    Ha, you aren't too far off base. That may be in the future when it is time to adjust again.

    That's right, you have such a tiny growning period in Vermont. A green house would be great in that climate.

    Dr. Kathy,
    Thank you. I know what you mean, Arthur takes no prisoners. He forces us to be flexible in other ways.

    So far I have learned to live with Arthur. Will try to keep him out of bed.

    Thanks for the link. That is a very unique method. Not too sure I can find straw but I will try.

    I have thought of planting a few marigolds in with the veggies as they repel insects. Good idea.

    I do remember those mild summers in Ohio. Arkansas is brutally hot in the summer and I really have to water. I might pass on veggies to watch deer.

    Thanks, I accept the award and want to thank---ha ha. Not sure adjusting will make me live longer but think I will be less frustrated however long I do.

  20. Patti so strange I come over here at this moment and find this article when at this very moment Gretchen is planting a container garden. I wanted to help her do it today when I got home from work but instead I ended up in the emergency room and have been in bed all day except now to check my emails and I thought I wanted to see what you were doing before I lay down again.
    I have to tell gretchen about this she may have questions for you. lol
    Enjoy your garden and be careful with your back and hands
    Love ya

  21. Wonderful idea, Patti.... I love seeing your home (at least part of it)... Neat to have a wrap around porch..... Love it!!!

    Your phlox are gorgeous... Ours are just started to bloom a little.

    I hope you enjoy your fresh veggies this summer... I think that is a fabulous idea.

  22. That is a very clever idea. I can see the pros and cons, but I think the pros win. I am also wondering how I'll do with the bending in the garden this year.

  23. I am really impressed with your gardening, especially since I'm cursed with a brown thumb. You've really got a huge beautiful yard. My neighbor tried hanging baskets here in Hawaii, but somehow they didn't do too well. Must be the heat over here.

    I'm having to do a lot of adjusting as I get older too. It sometimes surprises and annoys me when I can't do things like I used to without hurting myself. Sheesh!

  24. Patti, I love coming here! Of course, I've gotta put my glasses on! And, boy, did I enjoy those pics of your yard/garden. Just gorgeous! Love that sloaping green and the beds. Your container garden is a great idea. Hey, why not send this post to AARP's mag? Lots of folks would feel uplifted by your can-do attitude!

  25. Clever! They get enough sun that way?

    I worked in the yard yesterday and am feeling the pain today... not to mention the allergy irritation.

    Trying to remember who one is supposed to call if Arthur Ritis is a problem... Dr. Jack Daniels? I'm not a fan of his. Maybe Harvey Wallbanger could help.

  26. This would work well for me too, I think with all the wild critters around here. I just don't know when in the world to plant. We had light snow last night and a very cold day yesterday. Last year it snowed last on 5/23. Go figure. Love the way you write.--Inger

  27. I have experimented quite a bit with "Earth Boxes" lately. They can be set up on a bench which makes them easier to tend and the yield is fantastic!

    So far, I've only done greens, but this year I might try and grow some cucumbers....

    Adjusting along with you,


  28. Those hanging veggie baskets are a clever idea! If one did not have a porch, I think that a stout wire line run between two trees or poles might be able to support some baskets. Hmmmm. You're giving me ideas, Patti.

  29. Islandwonder,
    Gosh, I'd plant squash if it would attract deer. They don't seem to want to jump my fence.

    Dang girl, what is with the emergency room? Hope it wasn't that violent prisioner episode. I'll be checking on you.

    Thanks and I do love creeping phlox. It is the perfect ground cover. Evergreen, tight and beautiful in spring. I'd plant my whole yard in it if I could.

    Retired English Teacher,
    Thanks. This totally eliminates bending but it is a bit limiting.

    Totally know what you mean. I used to have hanging baskets in Florida but you really have to be diligent with water. The baby diaper idea of Muffy's was a good one.

    Thanks so much. I do like it when things green up. I'll check out AARP, thanks.

    That was my biggest concern. All the baskets get at least 1/2 a day sunshine and two sides get all day sun. It is a matter of finding what suits each plant.

    Canyon girl,
    Thanks Inger. It would keep it out of the way of the pesky nibblers though a deer could probably reach it.

    Rocky Mountain Woman.
    Good to know about the earth boxes. I have been wondering about them and am please to hear they work well.

    I have entertained the thought of buying a used childs swing set to use to hang more baskets. Painted nicely it could be attractive.
    When full and wet, the baskets are quite heavy.

  30. Patti, Your veggie hanging baskets are ingenious. Take more photos as they grow, please. I also like your pink phlox. Mine will bloom in June when the snow finally melts. Will you start tomatoes soon? I love tomatoes but our growing season is just too short.

  31. I love that you are so adaptable. I'm going to remember your veggie baskets and copy them.

    Bless you!

  32. We built raised beds two years ago for when our backs would bother us "sometime in the future."

    Now I'm very grateful for those raised beds. The future was close by after all.

    However, it's still too early to plant here in the PNW. So much rain, the poor seeds would get washed away.

  33. We bought a couple of tomato plants in pots this year instead of planting in the ground. We've done that before and with care they do well. An added bonus is that we can take them with us to the mission when we go there to work for 2 months! blessings, marlene

  34. Well you know that good nutritious home grown food may help all that ails . LOL
    Wish I had your motivation!

  35. My raised beds with block are great for not bending over. Have you seen those tomatoes that grow upside down in some type of baskets. Prices are really going up. Maybe more community gardens will springl up.

  36. Oh I don't see a weed in your beautiful garden beds there, you are doing a great job.

  37. R.E. adjusting. In a few months I'll be in The New Seventy. And they say these are the GOLDEN YEARS? Probably for the Corporations who manufacture and sell pain pills. :(

  38. Hi Patti,

    You are so SMART! I've planted some herbs in containers, but didn't think about hanging baskets. They look pretty too.

    This year we are planning on a raised bed garden in the back yard and on getting some chickens for eggs. You are so right about prices going up.

    Thanks for your visit, and for telling me about problems with commenting. I made some adjustments; I noticed that when I was viewing through IE it was hard for me to comment too. Thanks for your perseverance.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Kathy M.

  39. Lovely garden, Patti!
    I loved your take on "adjustments"! I certainly relate to the eyesight of a 40 something year old! :D

  40. your house and garden are sooooo pretty
    I think I'll do a bit of raised gardening this spring

  41. Like your garden post so much. I grow tomatoes in the hanging baskets, with little success as it is so hot and dry where I live. They do not like the Chlorine in our water. I also have Mr A., so could no longer bend over. My next door neighbor owns a plumbing company. He gave me old bathtubs and I grow spinach and leaf lettuce in them. Works fine for me and everyone sees the "fancy tubs" and has to comment. Good conversation starter for sure.

  42. Barb,
    Thanks. If it works, it will be an easy way to garden. I will take pictures as they progress.
    My tomatoes are all ready in and about 5 inches high. So sad about your short growing season.

    Have fun with them Jenny and experiment. Thanks.

    Linda Myers,
    Isn't it strange how quickly "sometime in the futrue" gets here. Good premptive thinking.

    Now I hadn't thought about them being portable. Good idea.

    Not only good for us but they taste so much better that store quality.

    All ready in the 70's here and you are right. There is a lot of profit in us geezers.

    Oregon gifts,
    There is a lot of satisfaction growing your own dinner. I'd do chickens but I have a neighbor who does so I am loaded with eggs.

    Lynda G.
    I had an eye doctor who said he could tell a person's age by their eyesight. In the 40's we lose the ability to focus. Welcome to the start of the decline:))

    Thanks so much. I hope you do, prices in the stores are supposed to get ridiculous.

    Sarah or Semmy,
    Thank you so much for stopping by. Welcome to TNS. I have clorine also but I fill large barrels with city water, let it "air out" and the majority of the clorine leaves, then I hand water the baskets. Love the bath tub idea. A claw foot would look cool.

  43. Linda Starr,
    I think you went two blocks high which is what I should have done. I only went one block with a kneel board.
    Thanks but that is only one bed I have cleaned so far. Many miles to go before I sleep.

  44. Dearest Patti,
    THAT explains EVERYTHING! LOL LOL LOL! There goes my focus! HAHA!

  45. I tried a tomato in a hanging pot last year. I didn't water it often enough, so it didn't produce. I do plant in garden squares and find there are fewer weeds.

  46. You are a master adjuster! I love your can-do, will-do attitude. Can't do it this way? Try another way. Good for you! Love your post.

    When you visited my blog you asked about Special Agent McGee...NCIS is my daughter's favorite show, so her Dachshund is named after, naturally, her favorite character! And it suits the little guy. :)

  47. Can't wait for followup reports and photos on hanging basket veggie gardening. I think Arthur Ritis is calling for gardening adjustment for me this year, too. You post supplies much needed encouragement for for adjusting and adapting!

  48. I am not a gardener, but enjoyed reading your article and the comments. Love the idea of lining the container first with a diaper.

    Arthur Ritis and his cousin Ms. RA have a cozy home with me, their don't seem to want to go away. You are so right, adjusting is the #1 rule as we change life styles.

  49. Lynda G,
    Ah, and that is just the first to go:))

    Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    They do dry out quickly and are also really subject to temperature changes. I'm hoping with monitoring, it will work.

    What a cool name for a dog since I really like his character also. Sometimes I just want to punch Tony.
    Thanks. It never hurts to always have a plan B.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I am kind of anxious to see what happens also and will post it.
    Old Arthur and his traveling companion Ms. RA sure make themselves unwelcome guests in a lot of homes. Hopefully someday they will be as obscure as leprosy.

  50. Miss Dazey,
    Oops, part of your reply went to linda, sorry.
    Old Arthur and his traveling companion Ms. RA sure make themselves unwelcome guests in a lot of homes. Hopefully someday they will be as obscure as leprosy.

  51. You're one smart cookie. Sounds like a good way to save the back. I wrote another comment, but when I said post, it disappeared.

  52. Patty,
    Don't you hate when that happens. Thanks for the redo.

  53. That was sooo smart of you Patti...And even though they may take more care and need to be "tended" more often---You solved a problem with such a great solution!

    Arthur has been staying with me, too---for many years! He gets around, doesn't he? I wish he would leave, but I can see he has no intention of doing that. When Arthur finds a GOOD Home, he takes up permenant residence, it seems...!

    Great Post, my dear.

  54. OOLOH,
    Oh not you too. Arthur is just a freeloading bum isn't he. We sure have to work our lives around him.

  55. Great idea- if my back isn't complaining, then my knees are, so anything that doesn't involve bending & kneeling sounds wonderful to me!

  56. Southwest Arkie,
    Give it a shot. I am just loving the ease of these baskets.