In the winter, it is easy for everyone, seniors included, to get a bit depressed. Often called “the winter blues,” seasonal depression is a very real thing. One of the best ways for an older adult to combat these blues is by engaging in fun activities—indoors or out. Gardening is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and beat the winter blues. In fact, taking up an active hobby like gardening, for as little as 2 ½ hours a week, can go a long way to minimize stress, improve blood pressure, reduce your risk for diabetes and many other illnesses too. However, gardening in winter isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Here are six ways that you can choose to grow something beautiful in winter or all year round!
1. Grow Bulbs.
Many flowers that grow from bulbs (like daffodils and amaryllis) can grow just as fine indoors as they do outdoors. The key is to choose a healthy bulb and to make sure you follow the growing directions to a T. If you can find a spot where the plant will get plenty of sun and chill the bulb ahead of time (to “trick” the plant into thinking it is sprouting after a winter in the soil), you are more likely have better luck. In some cases, you may be able to rotate your plants and keep a stock growing year round.
2. Plant in Unexpected Spaces.
Put a pot of catnip in your laundry room, plant some garlic in a window box, choose some winter flowers for the front porch — there are always plenty of unique places that you can plant a flower, vegetable, herb or something else green. When you do this, you have the joy of gardening, without all of the work and stress.
3. Create a Container Garden.
Nearly anything that can grow in a full size garden can grow in a container — if the container is shaped and sized correctly. Choosing a container garden can even make it possible to grow fresh winter produce right in your own home.
4. Prepare for Spring.
Even if you don’t get anything going in a big way during the winter, it’s possible to enjoy gardening as you prepare for a spring full of blossoms and greenery outdoors. Start sprouting your seeds or begin preparing your plots on those warm winter afternoons we seem to be having lately. Doing this makes gardening one of the best year-round senior activities because there is no spring rush!
5. Garden with Others.
Maybe winter isn’t the right time to grow a personal garden, but it can be a great time to help out others. It’s the perfect time to start planning for a community garden where the whole neighborhood can grow vegetables and share in the harvest.
6. Plant a Tree.
Unlike other types of planting, planting a tree is something you can do nearly year round. Choose a warm day and dig a small hole. Then, all you need to do is make sure the tree lives through the coldest months—a hardy species will have no problems. While you may not have quite as much “hands on” work with a tree, you have the joy of knowing you are leaving something behind that future generations will enjoy. That is a major benefit that cannot be measured, and it is a sure way to beat the winter blahs!
The holiday season can be a stressful for anyone, but they can be a particularly difficult time for older adults. If you’ve found that it’s getting harder to deal with seasonal depression, maybe it is time to look into how you can turn a hobby into a little bit of therapy.