Monday, September 27, 2010

Gardening For People With Disabilities

Gardening For People With Disabilities

Older people often forfeit the joy of gardening due to age or physical disabilities, when they could continue this healthy, rewarding hobby throughout their lives. Many Americans, when they reach retirement age or suffer a serious physical disability, give up one of the most satisfying and healthful hobbies ever known; that of gardening. In most cases, a very simple adjustment would allow these people to continue to indulge in a hobby that has brought them great joy over the years.

A recent bout of severe arthritis in my lower back threatened to halt my gardening this year. Like a grounded teenager, I moped about, cursing my fate and wishing for what I could not have. Then, one day, a thought hit me. My arms still worked. Why couldn't I sit down to garden?

I lost no time in dispatching my husband to the nearest lumber and hardware supply store to purchase what would be needed to build me a raised garden; one where I could sit on a chair and garden to my heart's content. All it took was:
  1. One 4'x8' sheet of treated plywood.
  2. Three 8-foot pieces of 2"x8" treated lumber.
  3. Two 8-foot pieces of 4"x8" treated lumber
  4. A few nails, a hammer, and a drill.
  5. A cubic yard of garden loam & a shovel.
  6. A willing husband and a couple hours of his time.
In what seemed no time at all, my husband called me out to see my new garden plot. He had cut one of the 2x8 boards into two 4-foot lengths, and nailed them to the two 8-foot pieces to make a 4x8 foot rectangle of treated lumber. He then nailed the 4x8 piece of plywood to the bottom of the rectangle.

Next, he bored a number of small holes in the piece of plywood to insure adequate drainage for my garden and cut each of the 8-foot treated poles into four 24 inch lengths. These, eight "legs," he attached to the bottom of the garden box, three on each long side and the other two somewhere in the middle to hold the weight of the dirt that would be in the box. At this point, he turned it over and we gazed upon something that looked a bit like an eight-legged child's sandbox sitting 24 inches off the ground.

While I watched, my husband shoveled the garden loam from his pickup into a wheelbarrow over and over again to fill the frame nearly to the top. At last, my garden was ready. That was about two months ago.

Without having to bend over once, I now have a thriving, if somewhat tiny, garden of cucumbers, radishes, a couple of tomato plants, some squash, and 3 cheery petunias. I'll admit, it's a bit crowded, and not the garden I would have preferred, but it's the next best thing.

If I am still incapacitated next year, hubby has promised a second, and maybe even a third box. Even if I am well, I think I will keep a few raised garden boxes around. They sure do save on that common gardener's complaint, "Oh, my achin' back!"

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