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Handicap Garden

 
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I was wondering what sort of gear was available for people with movement handicaps - I can't kneel or get back up, can't bend down for long, don't have a lot of strength.  I was looking into somehow raising a metal watering trough  about 1-2 feet off the ground to take care of my bending problems.  What should I have it raised onto, cinder blocks, bricks, something else?  With the winds we have, do I have to anchor it down?  If I do, with what?  Is there something better to use?  I've been told that I only need to put a foot of soil at the top, but should I put wood in the bottom or stone or something else in the bottom to bring the soil up to the top.  Are there special handicap tools I can use and where would I find them?  Any other advice?
 
Posts: 6
Location: east Kentucky; foothills, bottomland; zone 6b
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I would love some advice like this as well!  My body can almost kinda sorta do everything it used to, but slower and with much less strength.  Any good tools or even better/easier ways to use regular tools.
Are you using the trough for planting into?  I don't have specific advice there, but from using wooden raised beds- I personally like having the soil a bit lower than the edge of the bed.  Seems to dry out slower with that tiny bit of extra shade.
 
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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I've definitely been working on higher raised beds as I go as I plan for my future.

One thing I've tried 2 versions of are raised beds about two feet high, but with very solid walls that are wide enough I can sit on at an angle and reach into the bed. It does involve twisting my back a little, but so long as I only do a little weeding, then move and change to the opposite side angle, I've found it helps.

I've tried one version of a ARK bed (African Raised Keyhole) that is a full 30 inches tall. Standing is no problem for me, so that bed is awesome! Again the edge is wide enough I can support myself with one arm if I need to reach with the other.

The issues with both of these approaches is that it's a fair bit of work to build them and you'll still only have a relatively small planting area. It's worth it for things you *really* want to grow for yourself and have quick access to fresh, but it would be a lot of work to scale it up to a significant chunk of your diet. That's one reason I've started now and am experimenting with different versions.

The big issue with raised beds is keeping moisture in them, so I admit, I recommend deep soil and I use lots of punky wood at the bottom - the same idea as Hugelkulture uses - just a much smaller scale. The ARK bed uses a compost cylinder to help with watering, but I don't think it would be any where near enough in my climate if the soil in that bed wasn't supported on big rounds of wood.
 
Anna Merkwelt
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Location: east Kentucky; foothills, bottomland; zone 6b
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I'll second the benefit of having a sturdy wall!!
My husband built the beds I use.  He had planned on adding stump chair/benches here and there... but he made the walls so wide that I started sitting on them before he finished.  The width of the sides probably also insulates the soil from drying.

True the space is much smaller than I had before, and it may not ever feed us the way my old gardens did; but it's worth it to me for the therapy aspect.
 
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I have the same problem and have a solution, and it's cheap. I have collected a variety of old, non working dishwashers, refrigerators, such. Take the door off and drill holes in the back of it. Lay it on it's back and fill with dirt  (preferably from a local stock yard or someone's corral ).  Cover with a layer of cardboard and cut holes in the cardboard to plant in. The cardboard eliminates weeds and holds in moisture. It will break down and make more dirt. Just add fertilizer and new cardboard next year and keep going.  This is not really my original idea. I adapted it from a book by Ruth Stout called No work gardening. A wonderful book full of teriffic information. Written about 1950. I got my copy from Alibris.com. with shipping I paid about 6 dollars. You can also paint the outside of your new container garden to make it look more attractive. Hope this helps
 
Jay Angler
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Saralee Couchoud wrote:

I have collected a variety of old, non working dishwashers, refrigerators, such. Take the door off and drill holes in the back of it. Lay it on it's back and fill with dirt  (preferably from a local stock yard or someone's corral ).

Depending on the exact size, I could see that working for some places, although more and more plastic is involved nowadays than in 1950. I would actually drill the drainage holes in the sides an inch or so up from the bottom so you end up with a bit of a water reservoir down there. I've done that with half-barrels that I use because I only had 1 sunny spot which was a warm enough for plants like tomatoes at one time. Luckily, I've now got two sunny areas, so my main crop tomatoes have moved elsewhere, but I still use the barrels because they're handier to the house for quick bits of lettuce or for "grazing" mini-tomatoes while I'm on my way to see the chickens!
 
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I use hand pruning tools a lot.  Clipping roses, gathering vegetables, etc.

I find a garden spade very handy.  I keep one stuck in the garden bed so I can tell if I need to water.  

For weeding, I like a hand rake with a claw.

I like to use a "stationary sprinkler."  It stays hooked up to a short garden hose so that I do not need to move it around the garden.  The sprinkler head and short hose live in the garden bed and on the days that I water, all I need to do is attach the water hose to the sprinkler hose.  No need to drag that heavy water hose around.

Another trick that I use is to do things that can be done in a short period of time so that I don't get tired. It is like I take a lot of breaks between jobs.

Also, I set up a watering schedule.  I water on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday for the vegetable garden.  The off days, I water the flower garden.
 
pollinator
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Location: North Carolina zone 7
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I am appreciative of this thread. I built a raised bed out of scrap wood and stripped screws but I know not everyone can do that.
Since I’ve been hoarding before hoarding was cool I have several old wheelbarrows. The tires are flat or slightly rusted out. Maybe both. There was something about them that someone thought they should be discarded. I drilled a couple drainage holes and filled with unsifted compost. That helped the drainage. Unless you have a very old one they have plenty of root space so you have more possibilities.
 
master gardener
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Location: southern Illinois.
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I visited a VA that used raised
 
John F Dean
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Let's try this again.   That ran away from me. I visited a VA that effectively used raised beds at wheel chair height.   Of course, there was a firm surface between the  beds.
 
Susan Hunters
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Sorry, I don't know how to respond to each of your comments so here goes:

Anna - Thanks for the lip/shade advice.  I'll definitely drop the soil a bit.  Any kind of tool help would be nice for me also.  With the metal water trough, I won't be able to have a thick side since it will be elevated off the side; but am hoping leaning over it won't be a problem.

Jay - Thanks for the other ideas but I don't have the strength or skill to build something down low.  I do like your idea of putting wood in the trough to increase the moisture.  The barrels sound like a good idea too, but I don't have anyone who can cut them in half.

Saralee - Thanks for the cardboard idea, never thought of that decomposing for better soil.  I'll check into the old appliances around here; not sure if the city will allow them, but checking into it.  Like the book idea and I'll check that out too.

Anne - Thanks for the tool info.  Could you expand on how you use the spade for seeing if you need to water.  Breaks will be a must for me also.  I loved the watering schedule - how long do you water your veggie beds?

Scott - Thanks for a new container possibility.  I agree, root space is important so I'll add a bit more to the troughs.

John - Thanks for giving me another place to look into.  I never thought about getting ideas from the VA.
 
Scott Stiller
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You’re the best Susan! Thanks for listening to me. I’ll be tossing more ideas your way when they come to up.
 
Anne Miller
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Susan Hunters said  Could you expand on how you use the spade for seeing if you need to water.  Breaks will be a must for me also.  I loved the watering schedule - how long do you water your veggie beds?



I keep the spade stuck in the garden bed.  When I go out to water the garden, I pull the spade out then just dig down about 3 inches.  When I feel the dirt, I can tell if it is damp or dry.  Mine is usually dry.

I usually water on low enough to keep the water inside the garden bed for 15 minutes.  How long might depend on the climate, water evaporation, etc?
 
John F Dean
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Giving this a few hours of thought, contact www.carf.org.  The Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities should be able to refer you to resources in your area.  
 
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