Edible gardens for older people

Gardening is a great hobby and your older relative doesn’t even need a garden to be able to do it

Creating an edible garden with fruit and vegetables
is very easy to do and your ageing parent can eat the fruits of their labour, which is great fun and very satisfying, in terms of both meals and a sense of accomplishment

Where can you place an edible garden?

Edible gardens can grow on window sills, or on balconies, as well as in an actual garden

If your parent has a window sill, buy a window box. The key things to bear in mind for a suitable window box are:

  • The box should be 15-20 cm deep to allow for the roots of any plant to grow
  • It must have drainage holes at the bottom
  • It is a good idea to put a drainage tray underneath the box

Window boxes come in metal,wood or plastic:

  • Metal is attractive, but can heat up too much and damage plant roots. If your parent does use metal, encourage them to line it with cardboard, which will help to insulate the roots
  • Wood absorbs water well, but can be heavy
  • Plastic is the least attractive, but is the most user-friendly material for a window box

Ensure window boxes are firmly attached and cannot fall and injure anyone underneath

If your parent has a balcony, they can grow a great deal more. Deeper pots will allow bigger lettuces and other plants to grow

Compost is key

Buying the best potting compost your ageing parent can afford will make the difference in terms of how well their plants will grow

Some better composts are also lighter, which is important, as the window boxes will only take so much weight

Window boxes should be filled until the compost is 2.5-5 cm below the lip of the box

Choosing the right seeds

This is the fun part. There are so many seed options around and browsing the garden centre is a great way to start and provides a reason for a regular excursion

Your parent does not need to buy expensive seeds. Some packets of lettuce could last them up to two years

Some varieties, such as Tan Tan and Little Gem, are developed specifically for window and patio use

Your parent could also plant rocket, cress and pea shoots

If your elderly parent has a balcony, they can get very adventurous, growing French beans, radishes, tomatoes, and spring onions

If there is room for a trellis, they can grow cucumbers

It is also possible to buy edible garden tables for your elderly relative if they have a balcony, or garden

Planting the seeds

The size of leaf will depend on the width the seeds are planted apart

For very small leaves, plant 1 cm apart; for slightly bigger leaves, plant 5-10 cm apart and for larger leaves, allow a gap of 25-35 cm

Once planted, make sure your parent waters them well to start and then at regular intervals

Be careful about the orientation of the plants. Lettuces need afternoon shade, or they will wilt

If the windowsill gets no sun, your parent could grow herbs, such as mint


Plants absorb water best if watered from the bottom

Put a box in the bath of water and when the surface is damp, the moisture has soaked through

If your parent waters from the top, they must keep going until all water starts to come through the drainage holes at the bottom

Gardening is a great gift

Starting your elderly parent off with a window box, or pots makes a great gift and gives them a hobby they can spend time on daily

Once the plants are grown, you can enjoy a healthy lunch together




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