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Lifestyles over 50

Get the Dirt on Gardening in the Lehigh Valley

Apr 18, 2023 11:37AM ● By Alan Allegra
Ah, spring! When a young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of love. And when an older man’s car turns quickly into the garden center parking lot before the mulch is all gone!

Springtime is time for gardening. Those flowers won’t come up by themselves (If they do, we call them “weeds”!). According to surveys, 55% of North American households engage in gardening activities, spending an average of $503 a year on gardening goods. The result, depending on the type of garden, can be a savings on produce, a stunning display of natural beauty, and the joy of working with Creation and even friends and family. Children and grandchildren can share in the joy of digging in the soil and endlessly repeating the kiddies’ chorus, “Is it up yet?”

Gardening isn’t just for the well-acred homeowner and the gentleman farmer; many apartment dwellers and even senior village and nursing home residents have access to community garden plots, onsite beds, and even window boxes. A garden does not have to be big; a couple flowers or a few tomato plants qualify if they bring you pleasure.

A properly-planned garden is not only a delight to our eyes and, perhaps, our taste buds—it can also provide a paradise for pollinators and painted ladies (that is a common type of butterfly!). Bees, birds, butterflies, and bugs each have their favorite blooms, and a well-planned garden can provide a friendly habitat for these visitors.

Now that you are excited about starting a garden, you need to decide the purpose and location of your new hobby. Remember, any plot of land, from a 2’ flowerbox to a 6’ window or deck box to an acre of land, can be your garden. You can do some research with places like the PennState Extension (, 1-877-345-0691) and Lehigh Valley Alive ( to get help with every aspect of gardening and to find local garden clubs. Of course, an Internet search for gardening information will open up a garden of sources to get you started and keep you moving. If you don’t have Internet access—well, that’s what kids are for!

There are some interesting benefits to gardening, be your choice flowers, fruits, vegetables, or any combination. An excuse to get dirty is a big draw for children (as well as the opportunity to help Mom, Dad, or Grandma and Grandpa), but did you know that kids who plant their own veggies are more inclined to eat them? They might even try something they formerly shied away from.

Gardening is fun for all ages. Not to ruin the glow, but gardening also counts as good exercise! If you are limited to a windowbox or similar venue that doesn’t require a lot of moving, lifting, or digging, you are still getting the benefits of happiness-hormone joy, stress-reducing mindful activity, and personal accomplishment. If your gardening experience includes carrying bags of mulch, digging, weeding, pruning, and other activities, you are burning up to 300 calories or more, as well as stretching and exercising the major muscle groups (and you may feel it until you get used to it!). Of course, the amount of calories burned depends on the activity, length of time, and your body mass.

Container gardening, such as using planters and windowboxes, may limit your space but doesn’t necessarily limit your pleasure and plant choices. This option is all-around easier to tend than in-ground gardens and more resistant to weeds and pests. Containers let you grow flowers, fruits, herbs, and blooms without leaving your home. You can place them wherever you like, and many garden centers and home supply stores even sell kits for building portable containers for your yard or community growing space. Websites, TV shows, and online videos are great resources for finding more tips than you can shake a shovel at. This HGTV site has beautiful photos of container ideas:

Who says seniors have to sit around and grow old? If you are able, get up and grow succulents and sweet-scented summer blooms! Think about those bees, butterflies, and birds that are looking for a nice restaurant! If you are limited in your mobility or have other health concerns, perhaps a friend, neighbor, or family member can set up shop in your building or elsewhere and bring you photos of the growing plants and then present you with a harvest of fruit and flowers!