When gardening with disabilities, there are a few things that are essential and a long list of things that are really helpful. As many of you readers now know, I'm living post stroke. In other words, I'm partially paralyzed on my dominant right side.
You won't find me on my knees or squatting to plant vegetables unless I've fallen and can't get up. I will lean over or use my thigh muscles and knees to crouch down or lean closer to the ground, but not so much to lose my balance. In doing this I always have a sturdy hoe or rake to steady myself.
|$65 on amazon plus shipping|
You won't find me making things easier on myself by using a standard wheel barrow either. I don't have two working hands to operate one. Instead, I have an alternative. It's new for me, because I got jealous of Mel having all the fun. It's also an easier way to bring groceries up to the house. Notice this has two wheels for better balance. In a pinch, it can steady me if I lose my balance. If my load is heavy enough, it can also help me get on my feet again. Now, I'm not expecting most disabled folks to do this. I'm just too independent and impatient to wait on someone else to do it for me.
Some disabled folks, even me at times, use elevated raised beds as the way to garden. I tend to plant low growing things likeherbs, salad goods, carrots, and strawberries in them. It's just easier to care, weed, and harvest from them. But honestly, I can't see doing all my vegetables in one. There just isn't enough space in them to produce what we need in a year. This year, I've planted strawberries in a elevated raised bed made from pallets. I've also made my potato boxes out of them. Nothing beats free. If it can be done cheaper, I'm all for it. Unlike the elevated raised bed pictured on the left that will set you back $100+.
Notice the straw in between the slats. It's old composting straw and chicken dropping from the hen house. There is also a three-foot layer of this at the bottom as a compost pile. Only the top foot and a half is a mature compost and soil. As the bottom layer composts the level of the top layer will drop. Then next year, I'll grow sweet or regular potatoes in it. I'll mound it up as they grow. Pretty nifty, huh? Waste not; want not. The pallets themselves are screwed together with long screws. and baling wire on one end. In case we want to move it.
Now about shovels and hoes. First of all, I'm short (5 ft nothing) and I'm one handed doing most of this. The regular length of the handles on these items are too long for me to work effectively and efficiently. The same thing goes
for leaf rakes, brooms, and mops. I could buy those terrific, adaptive gardening tools (an expensive option), but I'm cheap. I just chop a couple feet off the handles of regular tools. I bought an old, camp shovel from the second hand store. I think I paid $5 for it with its canvas cover to boot. It just needed some TLC and WD-40. It works perfectly for those times I want to move more soil than my little hand trowel. It's also handy for other times too. The handle takes the awkwardness out of digging with my nondominant hand and gives me better control.
I've given up on peat pots for starting seeds this year and seed starting trays. This year, I'm trying something new. I built a soil block maker. For years, I've sworn by my biodegradable toilet and paper towel core pots as a way to start seeds, but I saw this idea on YouTube where they used PVC pipe to make them. But I thought of a better way and cheaper. Each month I refill my prescription of Lovaza for my cholesterol. It comes in either the big manufacture package as shown or, I imagine, the largest prescription bottle made. Since my pharmacist doesn't cap my prescription in child proof caps, my request. I always used to hand my childproof lidded caps to my grandchildren to open. The inner lid fits snugly into the inside of the bottle. I was saving my prescription bottles for MAP International, who recycles these bottles to third world countries, I simply cut the narrowed end off with an Xacto knife and drilled a hole in the other end for a long bolt. Now making a hundred or so soil blocks would be tedious beyond belief, I made four of them and held them together with duct tape. To press all four bolts down at the same time, I simply attached all four bolts through a piece of 1x4. Voila! I can make four blocks at a time. They are 2 1/2" around by 2" high. Much bigger than the cell seed starting trays shown above. So now I can make four at a time in one go. It also stands up better with four.
|I'm not the first one to make this|
Where there is a will and a little bit of creativity; there is a way. So disabled folks out there...what are you waiting on? Well that's it for this week. As always...
Y'all have a blessed day!