Nursing Home Raised Bed Advice Needed

hucklecatMarch 20, 2014

New member here!
I work for a nursing home and really want to get some gardening activities for our residents. Most are in wheelchairs and some have memory issues. We also do rehab for people that might have had strokes, amputations, etc so we have quite the diverse population!

Anyhow, I built this planter which is 8 x 3 but decided to make another that is only 28" deep so someone in a wheelchair can reach to the back of it. Made it about 24" high so our average wheelchair user can reach in fairly easily. The rear posts are higherfor hanging baskets that our people can do arrangements in.

Future plans are for 6 beds each 6 x 2 and a potting station for doing hanging baskets and decorative pots (which a wheelchair can go up under for ease of access).

Does anyone have pictures of their set up or ideas I can incorporate in future projects?

I really want the entire mix of our residents to get a bit of gardening therapy....Would like to end up with 157 square feet of space (one for each bed we have)

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Sounds and looks great. That's a wonderful project. We buildt similar beds at our local Nursing home and the residents use it a lot, especially those in wheel chairs. Quite often people from a local garden club help out. We had a local carpenter's group donate their time and the materials. There is also a local therapy group that has had some classes for us.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:54PM
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Making the bed walls higher is good but how about making the bed itself higher? On stilts or legs, so to speak. People would be able to reach to a certain higher level of the bed in that way.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:59PM
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I'm sympathetic to the challenges with mobility as I have a chronic illness with pain and fatigue complicated by a recent ankle fracture. Now my raised beds are more helpful than ever since I'm in a wheelchair for a season.

I've done plenty of gardening with children both at my home & when working with our camp's nature center, so hope these tips help you out.

1. Plan ahead to have supplies ready for them to do something hands-on for each gardening session. It's not fun for them to watch you do it without getting their own chance.

2. Involve them from planting to harvest.

3. Ask what they want to grow & eat.

4. Include your food service staff in on the process. Might be fun to have chef/cook out in the garden, too.

5. Get donations for weed free soil mix ingredients like square foot gardening method suggests (bagged compost, peat moss, vermiculite). Method doesn't use any fertilizer just the compost, so no fertilizer burning of crops. Keep gardens weed free by controlling nearby weeds in the ground & mulching (especially in the off season if you're not year round gardening)

6. Plant short rows.

7. Assign space to people or individual crops.

8. Create themed gardens such as: salad, pizza garden, tea garden, soup garden, butterfly, hummingbird, etc.

9. Use transplants or only easy seeding with seed tape for small seeds (homemade could be fun project) or just plant large seeded crops from seed.

10. Plant transplants of lettuce at the same time as planting seeds. Can also be done with cucumbers. Then they can compare which is growing faster & how the seedlings may catch up with the transplants.

11. Encourage participation by having names of jobs like planter, gentle rain maker, garden scouts to look for the sprouts or fruit, insect spy, weather watcher, etc. That way everyone has a job whether than can be hands on or not.

12. Make highly visible secure labels (also make a garden map to keep track & redirect if gardeners get off track)

13. Take photos of seedlings when sprouted for future label to include seedling & mature crop photo on tag.

14. Expect labels to move around & replace as needed.

15. Use harvest baskets (check for 2nd hand or dollar store plastic coated wire baskets) & scissors vs knives for harvesting. Rinse harvest in the basket while outside or plunge into a clean bucket of water. Swirl in a circle overhead by handle or shake to reduce water. Put in shade or cold water as soon as possible. Wash again inside according to food service procedures.

16. Make gentle rain makers: Use smallest bit to drill holes in lids of plastic water bottles up to a liter. Squeeze to make rain & won't wash away seedlings. Store in laundry baskets or milk crates out to the garden & so water warms up in the sun.

17. Create a watering schedule or system to help make sure it gets covered regularly from edge to edge. The SFG soil less mix prevents overwatering, but does need more watering in hot weather especially if a raised to wheelchair height container with less than 12" depth of soil.

18. Provide for seating, sun protection, have alternative activities for those that don't want to touch dirt (just want to watch or tell others what to do).

19. Gather community partners to help directly or with money or in-kind donations for: seating, water features to attract birds (pondless fountain, concrete not slippery ceramic or plastic birdbath).

20. Encourage youth organizations to get involved such as Campfire, 4-H, Scouting, Awana, local horticulture FFA or college programs.

21. Start small & build on this 1st year experience to make improvements for next year.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 10:52PM
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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

The only problem with using wood is, even if you treat it, it will only last a few years and will end up looking shabby and full of creepies and fungus. If you can afford it, it's well worth while getting a bricklayer to build it using bricks and mortar. Good luck. ian

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Bricklayer is much more better than the wooden one.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 4:54AM
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