How does your modified garden grow?

July 4, 2010 at 9:28 am 3 comments

As Bill and I plucked the first cherry tomato from our garden I was inspired to write this post.  Every year we plant a vegetable garden.  Typically, it is filled with a variety of tomatoes and peppers; habanero, jalapeno and chili peppers along with some herbs.  Although, it is due to the many hungry rabbits in our backyard, combined with Bill needing access to the garden from a wheelchair, that we require a few modifications.

We have quite the proliferation of rabbits in our backyard, which would require any in-ground garden to have some kind of fencing to keep the animals out.  This typical garden setup not only poses many accessibility issues, it requires the gardener to do quite a bit of bending to tend to the plants.  Currently, we are gardening out of large pots, where the top of the pot is 2 feet off the ground.  This has eliminated the concern of the rabbits and places the growing vegetables at a height Bill can access from a manual or power wheelchair.

This setup works well for us, but still requires Bill to take a front or side approach to the potted vegetables to access them.  The ideal setup would be to use raised planters with easily worked soil.  These planters provide the same benefit as the pots with raising the height of the vegetables to an easy to reach height for all gardeners, but gives the added benefit of allowing a wheelchair user to roll under the planter for increased ease of access.  The raised planters would also provide knee space for a gardener that chooses to sit on a gardening bench while tending to the plants instead of standing.

We also use a gardening cart.  Bill has a place for a hitch on the back of his power wheelchair (yes, a hitch!) and is able to put the handle of the cart around the hitch and pull the cart to the desired destination.  The cart holds all of the needed gardening supplies and allows Bill ease of access and use as the items are also raised off the ground.  A cart is of benefit to any gardener, as it allows for ease of transport of the gardening tools and other necessities, while also placing these items at a height that decreases the need for bending. Being able to transport all your needed items one time, versus making multiple trips also maximizes your energy conservation.

Depending on the needs of the user, there are a plethora of products that allow for increased independence and overall ease of performing gardening.  Here are a few more to go with the items mentioned above:

  • Long handled tools to maximize reach and decrease bending
  • Ergonomic tools to help relieve stress on joints
  • Adapted garden spray will easily attach to a wheelchair and has multiple adjustments for increased ease of use
  • Garden bench/seat: many different kinds on the market now, some with wheels to help navigate the garden while seated and some with compartments to carry tools and other gardening essentials.

Along with these modifications, it is also important to make sure to work for short periods of time and take breaks.  This will help to conserve energy and maintain a safe working pace while working in the outside heat.  This is especially important for gardeners with difficulty regulating their internal temperature.

All gardeners should take precaution regarding sun exposure, but gardeners with impaired sensation should make sure to take a few extra precautions.  Proper clothing and protection for the hands and feet is necessary for all gardeners, but is imperative for gardeners with decreased tactile sensation as it decreases the chance of unknowingly causing cuts and bruises. Proper skin inspection should be done once the activity is completed.

Happy gardening!

What adapted gardening products do you use/like?

Fruits of our labor....lots of hot peppers!

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Entry filed under: Assistive Technology, Recreation. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Your Garden  |  July 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    How does your modified garden grow?…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    Reply
    • 2. empowerability  |  July 4, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      Thank you for the trackback! I am glad you enjoyed the post. Happy gardening!

      Reply
  • 3. Abbie Sladick (Stylish Safety)  |  July 15, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks for once again giving us a new way to think about everyday activities.

    Hanging gardens are an accessible way to grow tomatoes and strawberries. They are grown upside down and can be hung at any height. (Great way to keep critters out too!)

    Happy gardening!!!!!

    Reply

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