Do you have family members or friends who want to garden but feel they cannot because of physical disabilities? Keep in mind that each persons disability is unique to them, and what works for some may not work for your friend or family member.
Gardening gives such pleasure and such visible or scented results its worth a try.
Raised beds are of great value to those who find stooping or bending painful or uncomfortable. You could use containers as small raised beds, or for a large garden, build raised beds.
If the garden area is accessible to motorized equipment, have a Bobcat or backhoe operator scrape your garden soil into ridges, then surround ridges with 2X8 fir or cedar, if possible. You can also use cinder blocks or stones to surround ridges, but keep in mind the width of the edging adds to the area youll need to reach into. You can also try using raised beds without edging. As long as no one walks on the bed or theres no deluge of water, the rounded edges should hold.
If you build raised beds of more than one course, Id advise using something like aluminum flashing inside the containment to block weeds intrusion through the crack between courses. My raised beds are four feet wide, but should be no wider than three and a half feet for easy reach.
Since my leg mobility is a problem, I use a Celebrity Victory brand of electric scooter for gardening. The footrest can hold a tubtrug of compost or spent plants bound for the compost or a large pot for harvesting greens, beans, broccoli, etc.
The presence of the tiller and tool basket restricts close access at the front of the scooter, but you can get closer to your beds by working from the back of the scooter.
Wear clothing that will not catch on the hand accelerator, for your scooter may take leave before youre ready, and you wont hang out in the open for long. Please dont ask me how I know.
A variety of extendable tools are available, including a trowel, three-pronged cultivator, leaf rake and regular rake. Their utility is questionable, since it doesnt take much weathering to freeze them in position, expandable or contractible no longer. My favorite weeders are a scraper with a handle about 16 inches long for seedling weeds, a cobra head weeder for grassy weeds, and a Japanese farmers knife (Hori-hori) for firmly rooted weeds close to hand.
Special tools and even lightweight hoses are available for folks who suffer from arthritis. Fiskars, for instance, has PowerGlide hand pruners, one handle of which rotates, and although this may require some getting used to, its very easy on hands.
These pruners have approval of the Arthritis Foundation. Some of my readers have tried them and enthusiastically endorse them for folks with arthritis.
Other tools easy for arthritic people to use include arm support for long tools, stand-up bulb planters, weeders, extra long loppers, padded kneelers with arm supports to assist you to your feet, special gloves for arthritic hands at www.bionicgloves.com, pipes through which you can drop seeds into place, and ergonomic assists. Some of these tools will help, but some will not because individuals needs differ.
If your friend or family members disability is reduced eyesight, plant special beds with plants of different textured leaves, scents, heights, etc. Pebbly vs. smooth leaves, large palmate leaves vs. grassy straps, for instance can inform a sight-impaired person what theyre dealing with. Mints have square stems, but most plants have round stems, for instance. It wont take long for him or her to recognize weeds such as sowthistle or mallow by feel.
Most folks with eyesight problems see dimly at least, but if not, different approaches to garden beds are helpful. For instance, a gravel approach to a handicapped persons bed is a recognizable access, if no other bed has such an approach. Thin-soled shoes help distinguish different paths to garden beds, too.
Folks with diminished sight can feel results of pest problems, from black vine weevil notches to slug damage and aphid honeydew.
If you live in an area with rattlesnakes, it would be a good idea to have a sighted person examine the garden bed prior to the person with compromised sights beginning to
The easiest gardening of all is Ruth Stouts part the mulch and plant system, explained in her book, How to Have a Green Thumb without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening or her No Work Gardening Book. They were published many years ago, so used copies should be inexpensive or available through public libraries.
Mulch hides pests such as voles and slugs, but its useful in barring weeds and retaining moisture in the soil.
Send garden questions to email@example.com or Gardening, Idaho Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.