IN THE YARD: Raised garden

Regular old, workaday cinder blocks have been used to create a nice garden at the Oak Park Plaza Senior Community, with the help of residents and the Southern University AgCenter.

The residents, seniors who enjoy independent living, built the raised garden with the blocks provided by the AgCenter.

The residents planted vegetable seeds in trays, and, once the seeds sprouted, the transplants were nurtured at the AgCenter. Then the Oak Park Plaza residents planted the young plants into their new garden, and it took off.

The apartment residents and staff taking care of the garden are seeing nice harvests of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and basil, all in a very manageable space.

According to Southern’s AgCenter, the cinder-block-garden project is part of a federally funded nutrition education program and is tied into the senior community’s weekly nutrition education classes.

THIRSTY PLANTS: If 10 days go by without rain, even well-established shrubs will need to be watered, according to one of my favorite gardening books, “Month-by-Month Gardening in Louisiana,” by LSU horticulturist Dan Gill.

I still refer to my copy of the book’s first printing, in 1999.

Azaleas are shallow-rooted and very vulnerable to drought, so keep them in mind as hot, dry days go by.

As far as annuals, new transplants will need to be watered more frequently, and those in containers may even need to be watered twice a day when there’s been no rain, Gill says.

Mulch in the vegetable garden and at least 1 inch of water each week there is suggested, when rain is scarce.

If you’re going on vacation and nobody’s available to water your houseplants while you’re gone, move plants away from sunny windows, thoroughly water the plants right before you leave and let some water stand in the saucers under the plant containers.

Small pots with plants can be enclosed in clear plastic bags to keep in moisture; just make sure the bagged, potted plants get light but no direct sun, Gill advises.

Ellyn Couvillion

Advocate staff writer