When I worked in a long-term nursing facility, many accommodations were made to meet the resident’s wants and needs. The facility was located in a rural community so we had many retired farmers and farmer’s wives. Farmers never fully retire. They have dug in the dirt and made plants grow all their lives and cannot truly stop, so to meet the resident farmers continuing need to grow plants, the facility provided them with a gardening area. The men and some women would grow the vegetables and then prepare and cook them in a small residential kitchen. We had some residents in wheelchairs, so they were provided with wheelchair accessible plant tables.
One winter at the planning meeting of the residential garden committee, it was decided that the group would grow their own plants, from seeds, and sell the plants in order to give the profits to a local charity. Everyone thought this an excellent idea and then discussed how to go about doing this while maintaining their normal vegetable garden. With the help of a local nursery and a few volunteers we had came up with a plan.

The owners of the nursery would provide us with space to house our seedlings until they could be moved outdoors if we would purchase the seeds, soil and seed flats from them. We took several residents to the nursery and planted all the seeds. The nursery workers tended them until they could be moved back to the residential facility. We still had to think of a way to keep and care for them once they were delivered.

Our maintenance man came up with an idea he thought would work. With the help of a few of the retired farmers, they built tables similar to the ones the residents were already using, including those in wheelchairs. They used two and one by fours, but instead of using plywood for the bottom of the tables, they used one-half inch square steel mesh wire. They nailed the steel mesh wire to the bottom of each table. To help hold the wire in place, they braced it up with one by one-wood strips, two feet apart on the bottom.

The steel wire mesh, along with the braces, was strong enough to hold the seedlings, and allow water to drain when watering the plants. To keep the seedlings protected from wind and early frost, heavy wire was cut, and bowed over the top of the tables every two feet and nailed in place. Heavy plastic sheeting was then placed over the wire to act as a mini greenhouse. Plastic ties were used to hold the plastic in place.

All the residents were able to take care of the seedlings and the plant sale was a success, enabling them to give a sizable donation to charity.