The Bible tells us when God created Man, he placed him in a gardening paradise, the “Garden of Eden.” This garden was not only beautiful, it was good for food-homegrown, delicious, nutritious-organic food. Today the Garden of Eden is nowhere to be found; however, beautiful gardens are everywhere, and they produce food both good and tasty. Devising and maintaining a vegetable garden should not be considered out-of-reach for any segment of the human population, including those handicapped, elderly, or even poor.
Principle of Minimal Adjustment
Handicaps vary, and so do gardens. Many handicaps to not prevent gardening in the usual basic fashion. Even a person who spends most of his or her time in a wheelchair may be able to grow a standard style garden. If the chair can be placed at the edge of the garden plot, is it possible the disadvantaged gardener could sit on the soil and dig with a trowel or pronged gardening tool? The garden may not be huge and the work tedious, but success, and with it joy, awaits those willing to put forth the effort-weeds can be removed and the soil loosened and arable. However, some disabilities can prevent working hard ground. If it is not possible to have someone else work the soil first, or if the gardener desires to do everything by himself, a change in gardening technique is called for.
Special Gardening Implements
There are special garden implements the handicapped gardener can obtain. For instance, if the individual is an arthritis sufferer, certain types of motions may be very painful, while other types of motions may not be. There are standard gardening maneuvers that arthritics can still carry out by means of a modified tool. Thus there are special garden trowels, forks, and even hoes that can enable the sufferer to plant a lovely garden. For those for whom overall mobility is a problem, such as amputees, scooters are also available. Margaret Lauterbach frankly discusses her experience gardening as a handicapped gardener. She even alludes to “bionic gloves.”
When a Traditional Style Garden Won’t Suffice
Raised bed gardening affords the pleasures of gardening to those more handicapped in ways that prevent growing a traditional garden. Whether it is a lack of mobility of the body, or something painful such as arthritic hands, one needn’t abandon hope of having a garden. Raised bed gardens can be designed to provide seating comfort, and a growing medium that is light and friable can be introduced, eliminating heavy weed removal, or the need to loosen packed soil. The dimensions of the raised bed are not critical, but can be designed individually. Two primary factors to consider are comfort, and reach. Is the bed of the correct height and size?
If raised bed gardening won’t suffice, container gardening may be an option. Again for this variety of gardening, loosening the soil is not problematic, and foodstuffs can be grown that do not require digging to harvest, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, beets, strawberries, herbs, etc. In addition, whether one can afford a large garden or one limited to a single pot, all segments of society can utilize the technique of container gardening.
Lastly, a very interesting technique of gardening is also very up-to-date-hydroponics. Ever considered the possibility of growing a hydroponics garden? Well, now may be the time to do so. There are no weeds or digging for the hydroponics gardener, and the results can be very satisfying.
References and Resources:
Garden Grapevine – Handicapped Gardening
Urban Agriculture: A Guide to Container Gardens