As we move into the new year, I think of all the gardeners I've known of the times I myself have had, and it occurs to me: there is no "one image" of a gardener.
We are all types, if you will, all ages, both genders, different family situations, locales, pasts, presents, hopes and dreams. We are all education levels, including one gardener I knew who was going for her Bachelor's in her 80s, and have different motivations, such as the youngster whose mother was ill and who was starting a community garden in order to raise awareness.
"Challenges" often refers to age. I haven't found that at all, in the world of gardening. (And I'm no spring chicken myself, so I think I know whereof I speak in this regard.) It can be about the aging process, which comes with its own little eye-openers, no doubt. But people are individual, and as such, have individual issues that can impact how easily, painlessly and safely they move around.
Whatever challenges you in the garden, there's probably a fix - and if there isn't, master gardeners are coming up with one even as we speak. Everyone should be able to garden. Here's to pain-free, successful gardening in 2017....and here are some great ways to get in there, get gardening, and have fun.
Raised Bed Gardening
If bending is your issue (isn't it everybody's?), try raised bed gardening. Raised bed gardening also helps contain weed spread, so there's an added bonus there. Seeding drift is contained as well. Plus it all looks neat. What's not to love?
Ergonomic Gardening Tools
Invest in some great, easy-squeeze tools if you have issues with hand strength or hand and wrist pain, such as arthritis or carpal-tunnel syndrome. Make sure you purchase from a seller who offers a return policy in case the tools aren't a good fit for you and your needs.
A Garden Seat/Bench (With Wheels)
A rolling garden cart or seat allows you to scoot along your garden rows, saving your knees and legs. Make sure you read reviews before purchasing. Sturdiness is a must here in order to prevent spills.
If you have sensitive skin, and especially if you have had a health issue such as skin cancer, good UV protection is a must when outdoors in the garden. Get hats, gloves and tops that offer certified UV protection. Be sure to wear sunscreen on all exposed areas.
Knee Pads or a Kneeler
If you don't have trouble bending, but putting pressure on knees produces pain (and especially if your doctor has warned you to take extra protection when kneeling), get a great pair of knee pads and/or a supportive kneeler. Use CONSISTENTLY - knee pain is no joke.
Like raised bed gardening, vertical gardening will involve less bending and will help save your knees and back. Choose climbing plants - such as cucumbers, certain beans, and decorative flowering vines - and purchase a sturdy trellis and pots. Ask for help getting started if you have severe issues bending, as you will initially need to pot the seedlings or dig and plant.
Here's a great list of publications on gardening with various needs. Don't see your issue addressed here? Ask your doctor, or contact us and we'll research your issue and let you know!
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Do you remember the parts of the seed? How seeds are made? How to store seeds? How to plant and take care of seeds? If not, here is a little primer for you. That wonder is still there - plus more than you may have imagined.