Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints Blog

Kneelo Knee Pads

This is an image of a person wearing the Kneelo Knee Pads.Kneelo Knee Pads provide support and comfort for gardeners whether they are kneeling, standing, or walking. These knee pads are designed with two types of foam. Shock-absorbing foam to ease pressure, and ultra-memory foam for comfort. Kneelo Knee Pads are also made out of waterproof material so gardeners don’t have to be afraid to get them wet. The knee pads are adjustable and are available in a variety of colors including blue, green, red, and purple.

Contributor: Brittany Valdez, WVATS

Check out WVU Extension Service Garden Calendar!

This is an image of the cover of the 2017 Garden Calendar.Spring has officially arrived in West Virginia. This means that growing season is about to begin. However, plants differ in when they should be planted, the type of soil they need, how much water they need, and how much sunlight they need. To help with this, West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service has developed a calendar that provides daily tips for gardening.

The WVU Extension Service Garden Calendar is an annual publication. This year’s calendar focuses on herbs. The calendar also provides other helpful information, such as controlling pests and planting zones within the state.

To view the calendar, visit the WVU Extension Service website. If you have gardening questions or want more information, contact your county’s WVU Extension Service office.

Contributor: Brittany Valdez, WVATS

The Potting Cupboard

This is an image of a woman opening the Potting Cupboard.The Potting Cupboard is designed as an attractive storage space for garden tools. With the Potting Cupboard, gardeners can keep their tools nearby and reduce walking. The Potting Cupboard looks like a wooden birdhouse. The front doors open to store hand tools, gloves, twine, and other items commonly used in the garden. It can be mounted on the side of a house or placed on a metal stand.


Contributor: Brittany Valdez, WVATS

Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints: 2017 Project Awardees

Purple Flowers and Yellow Squash

Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints is happy to announce the project awardees for 2017:

  • Brooke County Museum (Brooke County) plans to develop raised garden beds and add seating for participants in their community gardening program. They hope to engage students from a primary school and a middle school across the street from their gardening project in Wellsburg, WV.
  • Cabin Creek Health Center, Inc. (Kanawha County) plans to add raised vegetable beds to the community garden. They hope to encourage intergenerational activity and enjoyment by placing the raised beds near their children’s playground. They plan to offer a springtime gardening workshop for their community.
  • Community Resources, Inc. (Wood County) plans to develop raised beds and create an accessible concrete sidewalk leading to their garden at Westbrook. They also plan to buy new assistive gardening tools for their clients in Parkersburg, WV to help them overcome barriers and enjoy accessible gardening.
  • Fayette Hills Unity Apartments, Inc. (Fayette County) plans to build two raised vegetable beds and a garden bench at Fayette Hills Unity Apartments. They also plan to add a wheelchair access ramp and bench between the garden beds. They want to help the residents with overall health and individual health problems — through summer activity, community involvement and healthy foods.
  • Friends of Deckers Creek (Monongalia County) plans to develop vertical gardens at the Outdoor Learning Park by the Deckers Creek Rail Trail. They hope to plant herbs and small vegetables so participants can take produce home. They also plan to add benches near the garden beds along the rail trail in Sabraton, WV.
  • Gateway Industries, Inc. (Greenbrier County) plans to construct a raised flowerbed near their client gazebo and walking trail. Their center and the town of Ronceverte, WV both endured major damage during the flood of 2016. They want to beautify their community with flowers.
  • Hardy County Health and Wellness Center (Hardy County) plans to develop raised beds and collaborate with a local greenhouse. They plan to offer a variety of horticulture programs to teach senior participants about gardening techniques at their center in Moorefield, WV.
  • Homestead Farm Center, Inc. (Taylor County) plans to construct raised garden beds at their center to create a community garden for Taylor and Marion counties. They also plan to add garden bench seating to make it easier for individuals to work and relax at their garden site in Grafton, WV.
  • Jefferson County Council on Aging (Jefferson County) plans to create a hay bale garden on a lot across from the senior center. They hope to work with a local scout troop on developing the garden. They want to plant herbs and vegetables so seniors have access to fresh local produce. They plan to put a rest bench at each end of the garden and use a rain barrel to help with watering.
  • Kanawha Valley Senior Services, Inc. (Kanawha County) plans to build raised vegetable and flower beds at their senior nutrition site in Charleston, WV. They plan to partner with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and share their harvest with participants who may not otherwise have access to fresh vegetables.
  • Lewis County Senior Center (Lewis County) plans to build accessible garden beds at their center. They want to buy a portable gardening stool, kneeling pad and ergonomic tools to make it easier for their participants to garden. They hope to grow fresh produce for a local food bank and for their participants in Jane Lew, WV.
  • Mineral County Family Resource Network (Mineral County) plans to build raised vegetable beds and start an intergenerational community garden program. They hope to bring a shared gardening experience to children from a nonprofit childcare center, participants in a foster grandparents program, people with disabilities and local seniors in Keyser, WV.
  • Putnam County Aging Program, Inc. (Putnam, WV) plans to establish perennial gardens to beautify their center. They hope to include vertical gardening on the side of the building, in tomato cages and on nearby fences. They plan to partner with Masters Gardeners from the WVU Putnam County Extension office and students from the Buffalo High School Agricultural Department.

2017 marks 10 years of growing together with Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints. We look forward to working together this season. Enjoy the gardens!

Contributor: Carmen Fullmer for WVATS, WV AgrAbility and Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints


Ergonomic Gardening Ratchet Pruners

Gardening with Florian Ergo Ratchet PrunersErgonomic gardening ratchet pruners can make is easier for gardeners to prune and harvest plants. The pruning tool that has a ratchet mechanism that allows cutting in stages and offers more leverage when cutting.

When we say “ergonomic”, what does that mean? According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

“Ergonomics is the scientific study of people at work. The goal of ergonomics is to reduce stress and eliminate injuries and disorders associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks.”

Ergonomic gardening ratchet pruners are designed to help reduce stress and eliminate injuries while pruning and gardening. An ergonomic handle allows you to work with your hand in a more comfortable position to help lessen strain.

There are many ergonomic ratchet pruners on the market. Here are two examples:

Tierra-Derco Ratchet Pruner

Tierra-Derco Ratchet Pruner

The Tierra-Derco Ratchet Pruner was designed to make gardening easier for people with arthritis. This hand tool has an ergonomic design and soft thermoplastic handle for easier gripping. The tool is made of aluminum alloy, and has a steel blade.
For more information, visit Tierra Garden  or call (800) 992-1220. The Tierra-Derco Ratchet Pruner is also available on Amazon.

Florian Ergonomic Ratchet Pruner

Florian Ratchet Pruner

The Florian Ratchet Pruner has an ergonomic grip design and handle made of fiberglass-reinforced nylon. The tool is made for use by children or adults, and people with arthritis or carpal tunnel issues.  It has a lightweight, slightly narrower design so it is more comfortable for smaller hands. The Teflon coated spring steel blade cuts plants up to a ¾ inch in width. The Florian Ratchet Pruner comes in a black fabric holster. To learn more, visit Florian Pruners or call 707-259-1507.

A variety of accessible gardening tools, like the Florian Ratchet Pruner, are available for loan or demonstration in the WVATS Loan Library. To learn more, contact WVATS at 800-841-8436.

Contributor: Carmen Fullmer, WVATS, WV AgrAbility, Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints.

CORE Grass and Gravel Grids

Core Grass Grid

CORE Grids offer an alternative way to make an accessible grass or gravel pathway to your garden beds.  The product has a honeycomb design. Using the grass grid offers a more natural appearance of grass paving while providing turf stabilization, sustainable drainage, erosion control and grass protection.

Core Grids can be installed for use in parking lots, access roads, driveways and pathways for bicycle, wheelchair and pedestrian traffic. Installing the gravel or grass grids may also be a more affordable method than pouring concrete or installing block pavers.

To learn more, visit CORE Driveway or call 855.777.2673. The item is also available on Amazon.

Contributor: Carmen Fullmer, WVATS, WV AgrAbility; Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints.

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Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus  (Schlumbergera Orssichiana with pink flowers)

(Schlumbergera Orssichiana with pink flowers)

The Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) is a tropical flowering plant native to South America. The Schlumbergera plant has a variety of species, and it is available with flowers in different colors, e.g., pink, red, orange, cream and purple.

To care for your Christmas cactus, consider these tips:

  • Water your Christmas Cactus thoroughly, and provide good drainage.
  • Be careful not to over-water the plant, to prevent the roots from rotting.
  • When the top inch of soil feels dry, it’s time to water again.
  • The Christmas Cactus likes a somewhat humid environment. To help, you can set its pot on a tray of moist pebbles, or you can set a bowl of water nearby.
  • Place the plant in a bright location (out of direct sunlight so the leaves do not burn).
  • When in bloom, the plant enjoys regular room temperature.
  • When the plant is done flowering, it prefers to rest in a slightly cooler temperature (about 50 degrees). Water sparingly during this period.
  • When a Christmas Cactus finds the right environment and care, it may flower more than once during the year.

For more tips and information, visit:

Care of Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus Care

Contributor: Carmen Fullmer, WVATS, WV AgrAbility; Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints.

Celebrating the Season with the Poinsettia

Red Poinsettia

The poinsettia, with its red and green leaves (or bracts), is often associated in the United States with Christmas and the holiday season. This flowering plant, whose scientific name is Euphorbia Pulcherrima, originated in Mexico. It is often grown in the hot, dry climate there as a perennial shrub or tree. In Mexico, the poinsettia is known as la Flor de Nochebuena, which means the flower of good night or the Christmas Eve Flower. You can read about traditional Mexican folklore about how a little girl transformed a roadside weed into the Christmas Eve Flower with the legend of Pepita and la Flor de Nochebuena.

In the 1800’s, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, saw the plant on a visit to that country. Poinsett was a botanist, and in 1825, he sent samples to his South Carolina home. They flourished in his greenhouse, where he soon began sharing cuttings with others. December 12th was declared as National Poinsettia Day in honor of Mr. Poinsett.

In the early 1900’s, Paul Ecke Sr. developed a poinsettia that could be grown as an indoor potted plant. He began selling them at roadside stands in California. His son, Paul Ecke Jr., made further advances in producing the plant, selling its cuttings, and marketing it by donating displays to television shows like the Tonight Show, the Dinah Shore Show and the Bob Hope Christmas Special. Today, the Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, CA, grows over 75% of poinsettias sold in the United States and about 50% sold world-wide.

When you bring a poinsettia home for the holidays, place it near a sunny window. Water this tropical plant regularly and evenly. Let it drain out of the bottom of the pot, and do not let it sit in water. There are now over 100 varieties of the poinsettia, available in different colors like pink, burgundy, orange and white.

Contributor: Carmen Fullmer, WVATS, WV AgrAbility; Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints.


Paul Ecke Jr. Made Poinsettia U.S. Top-Selling Potted Plant

Pepita and la Flor de Nochebuena

Poinsettia: Christmas Flower

Poinsettia: Mexican Christmas Flower

Recipe: Spinach Pastry Diamonds

Spinach Leaves


  • 10 ounces of chopped spinach (if frozen, thaw and squeeze dry)
  • 1 (17.3 ounce) package of puff pastry sheets
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375°. Makes 35 pastries.


  1. Thaw pastry sheets at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and cook until tender. Add spinach.
  3. Mix soup, 3 eggs, cheese and nutmeg.
  4. Stir in spinach mixture.
  5. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Roll into 13×9 inch rectangle. Place pastry in 13×9 inch baking dish.
  6. Spread spinach mixture on pastry.
  7. Roll remaining pastry sheet to 13×9 inch rectangle. Place on spinach mixture. Tuck in edges.
  8. Mix remaining egg and water. Brush pastry with egg mixture.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes or until pastry is puffed and browned. Cool in pan on wire rack.
  10. Cut in a diamond pattern.


~ Adapted from

Contributor: Carmen Fullmer, WVATS, WV AgrAbility; Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints.

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Radius Pro Tool Ergonomic Garden Set

The Radius Pro Tool Ergonomic Set comes with five ergonomic long handled tools for a broad spectrum of gardening needs. The set includes a shovel, digging fork, transplanter, weeder and edger.

Radius Pro Long Handled Tools Garden Set

Radius Pro Long Handled Tools Garden Set

Each item has a stainless steel tool head and fiberglass shaft. The digging tools have flat ledges on the tool head to help with leverage when you step down it. Each tool has an “O” shaped handle that is easier to grip from a variety of angles. The handle is covered with a thermoplastic grip for better shock absorption and longer tool lifespan. For more information, visit Radius Garden or call 734-222-8044. Tools are also sold separately by Radius Garden and other sources, e.g., Walmart and Amazon.

Contributor: Carmen Fullmer, WVATS; AgrAbility; Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints.