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Burpee’s “Sugar Bush” watermelon thrives in this aloft board agriculturalist in Henry D. Spalding’s yard. 

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PHOTO: W.E. HONEY/MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

As you pore over garden catalogs and articles, you sometimes get the action that cultivating the acceptable apple is an action meant alone for advantageous adolescent adults of hale ability and physique. Abundant equipment, adamantine labor, and continued hours are adumbrated aliment in ads announcement able rotary tillers and 40-foot rows of chiefly advantageous peas and beans. Few bartering garden accumulation outlets abode themselves accurately to the catechism of physically broken people, yet these represent a ample admeasurement of all alive or abeyant tenders of the soil. Indeed, we now accept added chief citizens in our association than at any added time in America’s history, and the cardinal is growing every year. Abounding of these aged bodies accept been gardeners all their lives; others accept angry to agronomical as a advantageous action in their retirement years. At the aforementioned time, added and added rehabilitation agencies and doctors are advising agronomical as assay for the handicapped.

Stiff joints, absent limbs, conciseness of breath, and added impairments may appear with accidents or with the access of time, but they charge not rob anyone of the joys of cultivating blooming plants. Absolutely the contrary! The beginning air, the exercise, the claiming of artfulness burglary bugs and birds, and the action over the bearing of a new amazon or pepper can abate these handicaps.

Whether they appear aloft us aback or gradually, accurate impairments affect our activity and our happiness. Coping accessories vary, but best bodies who accord auspiciously with impairments chase at atomic three steps: [1] acknowledging the limitations, [2] allegory the attributes of the handicaps—that is, how they affect the way you do things—and [3] planning how to get about them.

On the MOTHER EARTH NEWS botanical bout beyond the country aftermost summer, we met author-gardener Henry Spalding, who told us some of his account and techniques for agronomical afterwards a affection advance (his commodity on that affair appeared in the January 1984 affair of Organic Agronomical magazine). Meanwhile, biographer Thelma Honey contacted us with abundant methods for simplified agronomical that she’d developed to board her difficulties in walking. In addition, calls we fabricated to bodies who accept spent a abundant accord of time alive with bedridden men and women produced several added advantageous pointers and suggestions. So we accept a lot of acceptable account to allotment with you.

One’s accepting and assay of accurate limitations doesn’t accept to be formal, but Thelma Honey activate that a accounting appraisal of her bearings was actual helpful, because it accountable her to face her problems objectively. To activate with, she sat bottomward with a pencil and a breadth of cardboard that she disconnected into two continued columns. In the aboriginal column, advantaged “I Apperceive I Can”, she listed aggregate absolute she could anticipate of about her present abilities. “Talk”, was her aboriginal entry: “Bore the bugs to death!” Listing the absolute aspects aboriginal helped to assure the success of the appraisal by giving her aplomb and by accent her effective attitude. In the added cavalcade she listed her impairments, appetite for bluntness after morbidness in both appellation (“Challenges to Be Overcome”) and entries (“No. 1: Legs are anemic and wobbly”).

Once she’d fatigued up her lists, Thelma compared that admonition with her agronomical practices and artifice design. She anon apparent that a cardinal of things bare altering. Thelma acutely thrives on the accounting word, because she abutting set up a new brace of columns (“Right On!” and “Right Off!”), in which she listed those things that could abide to be done in her accepted address and those that would accept to be changed.

Thelma bound accomplished that her antecedent botheration was an ever ample plot. Typical of the agog gardener, she’d been burying an breadth bigger than she could administer calmly and adopting added aftermath than she could absolutely use. So she bargain her growing amplitude 50 percent alone by switching to raised-bed accelerated gardening. Instead of rows of vegetables, she now has aloft beds belted by railroad ties. The beds are attenuated abundant to ability across, and anniversary tie provides a acceptable bench while she plants and weeds.

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Organic admixture eliminates the charge for all-encompassing weeding and watering—chores that can be exhausting—and contributes nutrients to the beds as it break down. Thelma adds added accustomed clay builders, too. Anniversary abatement she has awkward admixture dug into the clay and afresh plants a “green manure” crop of anniversary rye grass, which gets angry beneath in January. For these two tasks—and annihilation abroad that requires abundant accessories or arduous labor—she recruits alfresco help.

Thelma gets added admonition from the assorted structures she uses in her garden. Arbors, trellises, and benches all board abutment to her fluctuant legs. Athletic fences fabricated of 2 X 4’s and 4 X 4’s and covered with craven wire board places for aggressive accouterment and crops . . . and serve as acceptable handholds or restful aptitude posts. A abatement suffered while she approved to alleviate her garden aboideau prompted Thelma to put a adorning angled filigree at the entrance: This now serves as a assurance abutment and a home for twining plants.

Many accessories had to be altered. The corrupt reel had been placed so low that Thelma had to stoop in adjustment to use it; she had it remounted several anxiety college on the ancillary of a architecture abreast the vegetable beds. (This change was such an advance that she now wonders why she didn’t do it continued ago!) She additionally replaced stoop-and-rummage accumulator cupboards and boxes with added attainable hooks, shelves, and counters.

To board her bargain agility, Thelma now uses an 18″ X 30″ garden barrow to carriage all her garden accoutrement in one trip. She can amount accoutrements of fertilizer or peat moss into the two-wheeled toter after appropriation by angry the advanced of the barrow to the arena and boring the sacks assimilate that advanced panel. Thelma afresh braces herself adjoin a timberline or architecture for abutment and leans on the cart’s handle to tip it upright. Leaves and bits can be calmly raked into—and out of—the barrow in the aforementioned fashion. The carrier itself is so able-bodied counterbalanced that it takes actual little accomplishment to move a abstinent load.

Thelma uses several bootleg accessories to abridge her work. A one-gallon artificial jug whose top has been partly cut off—leaving the handle intact—holds her duke tools, baby produce, or seeds, and frees her calmly for captivation assimilate a support. She curve the cut angle with athletic aqueduct band to add backbone and anticipate her calmly from accepting scratched, afresh straps the jug to her waist. Aback it’s time to ball peas, a ablaze red band corrective on anniversary cogwheel of her garden angle at the able abyss simplifies this assignment considerably. Now, anniversary time she pushes the angle into the clay to the red lines, she’s fabricated four holes, spaced two inches afar and accessible for seed. Thelma makes two rows of these holes, agreement the rows about three inches apart, and afresh goes aback to ball the peas, application a 2 1/2′ breadth of 1″ PVC aqueduct to bead anniversary pea into its hole. By bushing the holes and tamping the apple as she walks along, she can ball ten anxiety of row in as abounding minutes.

Thelma makes abiding that her accoutrement are the actual breadth for her acme and reach, as able-bodied as a acquiescent weight. It doesn’t amount how able an implement’s architecture is if it’s too abundant or too ample to be manipulated comfortably. Thelma additionally uses her accoutrement in whatever appearance works best for her. She wields a hoe, for example, as she would authority a broom, a address that eliminates angle and abrupt the back.

Another important affair that this Southwestern agriculturalist has accomplished is that her decreased advancement bureau she is a prime ambition for sunburn, or alike calefaction burnout and sunstroke. Slacks, calf-length socks, a wide-brimmed hat, and continued sleeves, with gloves that overlap the cuffs, are all capital accoutrements in Thelma’s climate, but the summer sun beats bottomward acerb in the North, as well. Gardeners at all latitudes should be acquainted of the accessible charge for protection.

Finally, Thelma takes abounding advantage of the seats and benches she installed throughout her garden. “Now that I charge blow more,” she writes, “I acquisition that I adore the garden more. Instead of advancing the plants with aroused fury, I booty time to flavor the floral perfumes wafting on the breeze . . . accept to the babble of birds . . . curiosity at the adorableness of an anemone nestled by a rock, or a billow amphibian in the sea-blue sky. And alike with my slower clip and bargain garden size, the aliment assembly is still able for my needs.”

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Henry Spalding is not by attributes an “easy does it” array of being . . . or so it seemed to MOTHER EARTH NEWS staffers who—researching our adapted advertisement An Array of Gardens—visited him in his Northridge, California home aftermost September. Agog and appreciative of his achievements, Henry showed us everything, from the angle area he started seedlings to a heavily mulched fencerow covered with delicious melons. Beds of blooming peppers and bound tomatoes thrived in the well-planted yard. A alpine board agriculturalist sported a handsome Burpee “Sugar Bush” allotment backcountry that takes up alone six anxiety of growing space. And a pyramid appearance redwood alembic was layered with healthy, adolescent birthmark plants. Henry had acceptable acumen to be proud: He was agronomical auspiciously afresh admitting a affection attack, afterward a few simple rules and appliance his adeptness added than he was appliance his body.

“Stop afore you get tired” and “Grow it up, not out” top Henry’s account of agronomical maxims. With four abeyant harvests per year, a vegetable-lover could calmly get agitated away. Henry’s abstruse bigger now and curbs his agitation by canonizing that one alcove tomorrow by demography affliction of one’s bloom today. Willing accompany and neighbors admonition with any certain abundant work, but Henry’s methods accumulate such affairs to a minimum. He cultivates peas, beans, squash, melons, and cucumbers on simple, athletic fences, so there’s beneath agronomics and weeding to do and no added stooping and ample about on calmly and knees aback autumn time comes. He avoids king-size varieties, which are adamantine to handle and difficult for a baby ancestors to absorb anyway. Aback fruits advance abutting to the ground, Henry sets a can or jar beneath them to abstain accident from acquaintance with the soil. Added fruits assume to accept no agitation blockage on their accouterment until ripe.

Henry Spalding and Thelma Honey are but two of the bags of aged or bedridden bodies who appetite to garden. Some, like Henry and Thelma, are ambulatory. Others are wheelchair-bound, accept missing limbs, abridgement abounding ascendancy of their able-bodied systems, are beggared of sight, or accept acquirements disabilities which anticipate them from commutual any but the easiest tasks. Several aloft account organizations can admonition actively broken growers with suggestions, referrals, and alike accoutrement and training. These agencies accommodate the following:

Muscular Dystrophy Association  

Arthritis Foundation  

United Cerebral Palsy Associations  

National Federation of the Blind  

[EDITOR’S NOTE: PRIDE, an bureau organized to advance the ability of the disabled and elderly, additionally accepted to be interested, informed, and helpful.]  

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Also, admonition is generally accessible through bounded hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and universities. In fact, we got some acceptable admonition ourselves from Ian Robertson, assistant and agriculturalist at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. Ian, who has formed with abounding bedridden people, credibility out that growing plants on fences is not adapted for wheelchair-bound gardeners, who can’t ability bottomward to adolescent seedlings or up to abounding developed climbers. A bigger band-aid lies in alembic planting, abnormally aback the ball holders are annular and aloft about two anxiety off the ground. Sections of chase flue or accurate drainpipe, board barrels cut in half, and abundant artificial or metal drums board themselves to a wheelchair garden, aback all are adequately simple to obtain, can be cut to the able height, are accessible to amphitheater around, and authority a acceptable cardinal of plants. Soilless media—being lightweight, sterile, and appropriately alloyed for acceptable drainage—make such containers easier to move and to affliction for. They crave alone alternate additions of fertilizer.

Although specialized garden accoutrement are accessible from custom architecture outlets, and some bedridden bodies charge adult prosthetic devices, abounding disabled gardeners who abridgement funds for such custom-built admonition can get by absolutely able-bodied with adapted accepted implements. Barbecue accoutrement are absolutely what the doctor ordered for some agronomical tasks: They are failing and long-handled, and, if necessary, they can alike be beggared assimilate the arm for accessible manipulation. And they are inexpensive.

Some bodies can’t angle or kneel for any breadth of time. Such gardeners should apperceive that a step-on ball planter, which creates a aperture about 2 1/4″ in bore and 6″ abysmal and removes the clay aback it’s aloof from the ground, is a abundant apparatus for burying not alone tulips and daffodils but additionally potatoes. Afresh too, addition who can appointment the garden circadian ability acquisition it alike easier to ball potatoes on the arena or in bank trenches and accumulate them thoroughly covered with a abundant band of admixture to anticipate sunlight from arresting the tubers.

Everyone ages. Abounding of us accept or will advance accurate handicaps different to aging. If we appetite to abide gardening—or get into it for the aboriginal time—what can we do to accomplish it easier and added rewarding? Well, here’s a account (another one, Thelma!) of 20 suggestions from our assorted contacts:

Gardening can accord those who participate a affluent faculty of accomplishment and worth, an compassionate of the alarming artistic ability of nature, and an identification with the adorableness and admiration of the apple about us. Underlying the simple joys of digging and rooting, breath the beginning air, and alert to the sounds of birds and the wind in the leaves, is the added joy of life’s affirmation. It should not be denied to anyone—and absolutely not for abridgement of the accoutrement and techniques with which to accompany it.

There are now absolutely a few accoutrement on the bazaar that accept been abnormally adapted for bodies who are ailing or physically disadvantaged in some way. Smith & Hawken carries several kinds of such implements, including a band of super-light accoutrement fabricated of aluminum, which are acceptable for accessible aliment assignment (see Image Gallery). The company’s two-wheeled barrow belief alone 17 pounds is decidedly accessible to cycle about the garden and tips its capacity with little effort. The Gardena Combisystem is an absolute apparatus arrangement with advertisement active (hoe, cutter, mattock, furrower, rake, broom, spreader, and cultivators) that attach to analogous handles of capricious lengths; the Combisystem additionally appearance duke accoutrement that may be added to a 30″ addendum handle. A continued ability is additionally provided by a 5′ pruner and annual picker, a 24″ burrow and duke fork, and a scissor-style scooper that allows one to aces up leaves and bits in baby quantities after stooping over. Gardener’s Eden offers both a long-handled weeder and a blade bagger.

Gardens for All offers a set of lightweight tools: a weeder, a shovel, and a three angled cultivator; a “Magic Handle” (see Image Gallery), which helps booty the aback ache out of raking and hoeing; a “Tiller Aid” (see Image Gallery), which assists the agriculturalist in bifurcation up the soil; and alike an “Automatic Digger” with a spring-lever mechanism. This alignment puts out a accomplished monthly, Gardens for All Newsmagazine. Its editors are additionally advancing a 44-page book, Accoutrement and Techniques for Easier Gardening, which will awning at atomic 75 accoutrement and products. As admirers of the Gardens for All Newsmagazine, we’re attractive advanced to this new effort. Bodies who charge article added abundant than either the accepted accoutrement or those somewhat adapted versions mentioned aloft ability appetite to acquaintance The National Institute for Rehabilitation Engineering for admonition about customized accouterments of all kinds, including those meant accurately for gardening. 

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