Friday, May 15, 2009

Gardening for the Mobility Impaired

I never tell people when they need joint replacement, says my ortho doc.They'll tell me when it time because they can't stand the pain anymore.
Can you get me through one more summer?

So I'm scheduled to get two new knees right as Spring gardening gets underway, double bummer. Recover will be long and the rehab grueling, I'm told. And I'm definitely not going to get down on my knees to dig in the dirt this Spring--so no fresh tomatoes on my vines, no snappy homegrown peppers, no spicy salad greens from my little ol' pea patch, not this year--that's a thought more depressing than the surgery.

Then my wife Gayle had an idea. What if she unloaded the junk from some plastic storage shelving in the garage and set the shelves up on the back deck? We could buy some containers to put on top of the shelves and I'll be able to sit in a chair to tend my cukes at table level after the surgery. Because I'd been eying the magazine ads for the Grow Box from Garden Patch anyway, that's what we ordered.

The Grow Box has several advantages for the mobility impaired (or for those with limited space, like a balcony): these planters are large and deep; they are self watering, so I won't have to maneuver down the stairs to drag the hose up onto the deck to water them every day or so; and they have a plastic mulch cover that not only helps warm the soil but also limits the weeding I'll have to do. They're a bit pricey, but we ordered six.

Now I've got my kitchen garden at table height where I won't have to get down on my knees to plant and tend vegetables. And because the water reservoir is large, holding a couple of gallons, watering is infrequent and can wait until Gayle is home to help. I dropped some mosquito dunks (Bacillus thuringiensis) into each water tank to control the little pests. Now, between physical therapy sessions, I can tend my veggies without the risk of tearing stitches or of falling on stairs.

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