Tag Archives: Gardening

Jan’s “Stand Uppity Garden” …(Part two)

A year ago I introduced you to my friend Jan who was in a severe auto accident back in the 70’s.  She was told that she would never walk again but she didn‘t accept that verdict. Now she needs a wheelchair on long ventures but for the rest of the time she stands and walks on her own two feet.


Her great love is gardening but bending over or sitting on the ground, or even on a low stool, is almost impossible for her so, with the help of some friends, she built her first “Stand Uppity Garden” in 2009.stand Uppity part 2

However they didn’t use treated wood as it would have affected the produce so it didn‘t stand the test of time.  She still loved the idea though and last year she mightily improved her idea of a standing high garden by using a 100 gallon Big Bag Bed from Smart Pots.

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Jan swears by Smart Pots because they come in a variety of sizes and can be used for any and all of the projects in her amazing garden.  The largest bag opens to a diameter of 4 feet and holds as much potting soil as a 4×4 garden.  It is extremely sturdy and she can make as many “uppity” gardens as she wants by just putting a Big Bag Bed on top of a sturdy base.

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And the smaller bags?  They come with the complete endorsement of the many cats who roam and relax in this outdoor paradise!

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Easy Watering

Taking care of a newborn has certainly sidelined many of my plans and ideas. I can’t believe it is already the middle of May and we haven’t yet planted our garden. Typically I have seedlings sprouting in March and April in preparation for planting day. This year, we will be relegated to buying plants at the local nursery.

Although I’m disappointed that we didn’t grow our plants from seed this year, I am still looking forward to planting and tending our little garden. It always astounds me how a small section of soil and produce so many vegetables. It is a lot of work, but I have come to believe that food grown in a home garden simply tastes better!

Gardening is not always easy, but I have a little helper to lighten the load. My son is almost 8, and he is eager to dig in the dirt and pull weeds. His favorite garden related chore, finding worms to help the soil, ranks among his favorite activities.  My responsibility is keeping the garden watered. (In full disclosure my son would love to have this job, but he cannot be trusted with the hose.)

Schlepping the heavy and dirty garden hose through the yard each day used to be a frustrating task. No matter how carefully I pulled, I always ended with dirt and mulch covering my legs and forearms. The traditional hose is heavy and often became entwined in my flowerbeds and around my shrubs. I have tripped more times than I would like to recall because the filthy hose became tangled around my prosthesis .

On a whim last summer I bought the expandable garden hose featured on television commercials. I was weary that a lightweight, Imageshrunken little tube would expand and transport the water across the yard to our little garden, but I decided to give it a try. Within seconds of turning on the faucet the hose began to expand and grow. I have to admit I’m not sure who was more excited, me or my 8 year old!

The expandable garden hose worked as promised, and continued to deliver throughout the summer. I never experienced a leak or break in the line. In addition to the novelty factor, the aggravation of contending with a dirty and unwieldy hose was completely eliminated.

I have been impressed with the expandable garden hose. This lightweight hose makes it easier, cleaner and safer for me to water our garden. This is just another product which has helped me to become an UNlimiter!

Never too early …

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… to get this handy tool out of the shed, or at least that’s what my  friend Bud says.  He is an avid gardener but he’s also 84 years old and to put it in his words, “this old body just doesn’t have the bending parts where it used to”.  That’s why he bought this Long Handle Weeder and Cultivator by Cobra Head a few years back and he says it’s one of the best purchases he’s ever made.

He lives in a nice two bedroom connected townhouse that overlooks a golf course (another thing that he is avid about) but it gives him a very small area for gardening.  As a matter of fact many of his neighbors just leave their spots grassed in … but not Bud.  He took it as a challenge and now they all reap the benefits.

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 In our area of North Carolina we seldom have freezing weather but the ground still gets hard and crusty.  Bud tells me that this tool is perfect for breaking through this.  He also loves the fact that this 62” tool does a great job of weeding and fits into tightly spaced areas.  He can dig deep and get those pesky (and unattractive) weeds out while not damaging his valuable plants and he doesn’t have to bend over to do it.

“…and one last thing”, laughs Bud.  “The blade is replaceable !   I’ve never had to do that but the option is always there if I run over the tool with my golf cart.   I’ve been known to do that, you know!”

Elevated Garden Bed- Truly UNlimiting!

Spring is almost here!  With only one more winter event forecast for the end of the weekend, I’m optimistic that the warmer temperatures will stop flirting and will finally stay in place. This winter has been nothing short of brutal, and I can’t wait to stop hibernating under my electric throws and again seek warmth from the sun.

With my thoughts focusing on warmer weather, I have begun one of my favorite Springtime endeavors- planning my garden. I am, by no means, an expert gardener. However, I do enjoy tinkering in the soil and watching my efforts grow into a variety of delicious vegetables. As an unanticipated bonus, I discovered that my son is far more willing to try new vegetables if he has had a hand in the growing process. For our family, gardening has allowed us to spend some quality time outdoors while expanding our palettes.

Because I have a little boy who is eager to help, I don’t have to deal with the discomfort of stooping and bending while tending the garden. He is at an age where he is happy to assume this responsibility! Unfortunately my Mom is not lucky enough to have eager young hands to help her, and after her knee replacements she almost abandoned her favorite Spring/Summer hobby altogether.

Kneeling and squatting with knee replacements is both painful and difficult. Her back is not nearly as spry as it was in her youth, so bending at her waist to tend a traditional garden was not an option. Unwilling to allow her to give up, I searched for an alternative to the traditional raised garden.

I purchased this elevated garden bed for Mother’s Day a few years ago, and it has been a game changer. Because the garden is on Imagelegs, she can plant, tend and harvest her produce without bending, kneeling or stooping. She could even tend the garden from the comfort of her wheelchair!

The large bed offers the depth she needs to grow all the vegetables she desires. She was even able to grow a small patch of carrots! Because the entire garden is on a tall platform, weeds are virtually non-existent and her dogs don’t dig up her harvest prematurely.

The elevated garden box is easy to assemble, and required no tools. Although neither of us are mechanically inclined, my husband and I had it assembled in less than an hour. We filled it with potting soil (which in truth was probably the most difficult task) and she was ready to start planting. Set-up could not have been easier, and the end result was surprisingly sturdy and durable.

My Mom accepted that she had to give up a beloved activity because of mobility issues. This elevated garden is more proof that anything can be accomplished with a combination of desire and adaptations. It turns out that it is possible to enjoy the benefits of tending a garden without bending, and without pain. For my Mom, the elevated garden bed has been UNlimiting!

A gardeners reference library:

This little shed addition is not just a place where my son keeps his gardening utensils…it‘s his reference library too.

When he showed it to me I thought immediately of passing this idea along to all of you out there whose memory is not what it used to be.  I’ve discovered that most of us can use a little help in that area.

Gardening has become an avocation for my son.  He is constantly experimenting and adding new flora and it seems that every time I visit he’s changed a location or added something new. Since so many of the plants are ones that he may never have heard of before, or might be a new variety of an old familiar one it could be hard to keep up with it all … but not since he’s implemented
this great way to keep it all straight.

He calls it his gardening reference library …  a compilation of all the seed packets and product tags of the items he’s bought over the years and he‘s posted them on the inside of the shed door.

Isn’t that clever and it’s an idea that could be adapted to so many other areas, not just gardening.  For instance, I’m using the inside of a cabinet door in my kitchen to post the birth dates of all my friends.  They are amazed when they get a card from me and I cross my fingers behind my back and tell them that having a good memory is a gift that I was born with!!

Let us hear about your clever ideas … I’ll bet there are lots of them.

An Inspired Idea Unites a Community!

A few blog entries back I introduced you to my friend Jan and her “stand-uppity” garden.  Continuing in that vein I want you to meet my nephew Chris who has an amazing garden story too.  He made the unorthodox decision to plant a garden in FRONT of his house and had no idea how this would change his life.

He chose the location because it received the best light but as he mapped out and planted his garden he realized that he was being closely watched. People that had never spoken before stopped and expressed their interest. Young parents brought their children to peek in the greenhouse and to ask Chris what he was planting and when it would be ready to be picked.

He believes that he’s met at least 30 or more people who live within 4 blocks … all of them “neighbors” that he would never have known otherwise.  In Chris’ words: “It has turned out that the production of food has taken a back seat to all the other things this garden has done: community building, bringing neighbors together, a teaching tool etc. I still get a lot of food for myself, neighbors & the food bank, but it’s almost incidental.”

I couldn’t help but think how this idea could be adapted to so many of you seniors out there with “green thumbs”. I know that front yard gardens might not be practical or even allowed in some places, but how about putting a wheelbarrow or a small table out there filled with vegetables or flowers from your garden and a sign encouraging neighbors to help themselves!

It’s people that have the guts to do something unorthodox like this that break down barriers and forge friendships. If you have any examples along these lines please share them with us.

Jan’s “STAND UPPITY GARDEN”

I have a friend who was in a severe auto accident back in the 70’s. She suffered a fractured pelvis and the nerves that went to her left leg were severed.  The doctors told her she would never walk again but she refused to accept that verdict.

She did have the use of her right leg and that made all the difference.  So, very slowly she persevered and, although she still keeps her wheelchair for long ventures, she manages to accomplish more in a day than most of us do in a week!

Gardening is one of her great loves but she has a very hard time bending over and sitting on the ground or even on a low stool is almost impossible for her.  This makes it very difficult to handle the hard work that goes into a successful garden. Did this stop Jan? Of course not … and I want to share with you how she’s overcome these problems.

It’s her “STAND UPPITY GARDEN” (as she calls it) …a wonderful elevated creation that you see here in the making…

She fashions a table by using cement blocks as legs, topped with a sturdy board. Then she adds the huge bag. It’s by Smart Pots and is called a 100 gallon Big Bag Bed.  I had never heard of Smart Pots but Jan told me that using their containers has made it so easy for her.

When opened the bag has a diameter of 4 feet and holds as much potting soil as a 4×4 garden. It is extremely sturdy and is perfect for her project. They also carry other sizes ranging from 5 to 100 gallons and she uses those too.

What a wonderful concept and a perfect answer to her dilemma. Here we see the beginning of this year’s yield …

I love the way that Jan tackles whatever comes her way. She truly is an example of that old adage … “where there’s a will there’s a way.”

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