By Frank H. Essig, Jr.
Just because we get old, sick, disabled or otherwise handicapped is no reason to stop growing our favorite flowers, Chrysanthemums. We may not grow as many as we would like to, or grow them the way we used to but with a little ingenuity and common sense we can still grow them, have a lot of fun and a large measure of accomplishment and satisfaction and possibly end up with many ribbons and trophies in the process.
How is this done? Spend time thinking; which things are the hardest for you to do and then think of ways that the hard tasks can be eliminated or broken down into easier tasks.
I have been raising prize winning Mums for five years and here are some of the things I have done to make it easier for me to enjoy my hobby. I can't stand so all of my gardening is done from a wheel chair which I can move so it is adjacent to my Mum bed.
I find it necessary to grow my Mums in pots which I can put on a bench to be safely worked on in comfort. While on the bench I can tie up and stake the plants, extra shoots can be removed. I can disbud the plants when they are on the bench, sprayed to prevents insects and checked over all while I an in a comfortable, safe position.
The bed where the potted plants are kept is immediately adjacent to a driveway, this means it is much easier to move about in the wheelchair and tend to the plants. It would be much more difficult if the bed was adjacent to a grassed area, particularly after rain had fallen.
Formerly when I grew my Mums in a bed I used a typical large garden type sprayer and rarely mixed different chemicals. Now I use a rather small lightweight sprayer. I discovered that insecticides and fungicides manufactured by the same company were generally made of the same compounds and usually could be safely mixed together for one step application. Sometimes I mix in liquid fertilizer with the insecticide and fungicide.
I make it a practice to use Osmocote on all my Mums and additionally feed them every ten days with a liquid fertilizer. Shading used to be a real chore utilizing heavy shade cloth, I now use black plastic. Black plastic is easier to use, it is lighter and can be pulled over my frame by my wife in the evening and pulled back in the morning.
When I remove side shoots I use a dental tool, probably familiar to all, called a "pick". For me the pick is much easier to use than my fingers or a knife and it causes far less damage.
To make watering easier I had a water faucet installed adjacent to my Mum bed. Carrying tools to and from the garden is difficult for me so I use a small plastic pail which I also use to place the discarded leaves, shoots and other garden debris. I use pre cut "Twist-Ems" for tying my plants.
In addition to the above there are several very basic rules I must follow in order to take the optimum advantage of the limited strength I have. However, these rules should really be followed in order for any grower to show the best results for the effort expended.
Footnote: Frank recently won the best bloom at the National show with Bola de Oro. His ambition for next year is put up a basket of 15 blooms of Bola de Oro. If he is able to do it he will have an outstanding entry. FM.
Reprinted with kind permission from Frank Essig. Thanks also to Frank Mastromano for doing the hard work in compiling the text with which to build this page.
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Last updated on 26 December, 2001