July 24, 2017

Wheelchair Gardening

wheelchair gardening

Gardening Tip – For the week 17th Oct. – 23rd Oct.

Disabled?  This should not mean you have to stop gardening!

Gardening is not a hobby that we wish to relinquish just because we are becoming older. However, the unavoidable arthritis and  rheumatism catch up with us as the birthday candles increase on the birthday cake. Our  knees begin to crumble when lifting the spade and our creaking backs keep reminding us of our age. We begin to think of ways of how to make the digging easier, and the spade-fulls lighter. We look for gimmicks like longer handled spades and no need to bend forks. Check out the website www.backsavergardentools.co.uk, that have a whole range of products, specially designed for this purpose. But we can manage if we try that little bit harder, it just takes a bit longer and the shovel loads have to be a bit smaller! The people who really have my sympathy, are the gardeners that have become confined to a wheelchair, they have gardened all their life and now they can no longer bend down and touch the soil and get that real feel of gardening.

This has all changed in an allotment in Greater Manchester…

wheelchair gardening

A gentleman had dreamed all his life of how he could help this section of our community and after many years his dream came true, as the plaque in the picture reads.  After spending a vast amount of his own money and  partially sponsored by various charities, he built this novel greenhouse with full wheelchair access. The innovative beds have just a depth of 26cm of soil and are in a wooden box with a plastic bottom with drainage holes. The whole bed is on stilts which allows a wheelchair to fit underneath it. In this way wheelchair users can sit with their legs under the bed and still feel the soil, weed the soil and plant the soil! Following the success of the greenhouse for indoor crops the same design was extended to an area outside the greenhouse for crops that will easily grow outside.

chili plants in wheelchair beds
chili plants in wheelchair beds

The indoor crops include chilli  peppers tomatoes and new potatoes, while the outdoor beds have beetroot, chard, potatoes and many more outdoor vegetables. Being above the ground and sheltered, the crops do not suffer from soil borne pests and diseases. The only slight drawback is that the beds need to be annually topped up with good quality compost.

outdoor wheelchair beds
outdoor wheelchair beds

Catalogues sell raised beds on stilts (for a lot of money), but the ones I have seen are not designed to allow wheelchair access underneath them.

If you have a spouse or friend who is not mobile and loves to grow things, why not copy this design in a corner of your allotment and bring the smiles back to their faces!

It is easy to copy, just remember to use treated wood and make sure there is enough room for the wheelchair to fit underneath as each chair is a different size.

 

Have an enjoyable gardening week and make sure others can have one too!

Boris .

About The Author

Profile photo of Boris Legarni

Boris inherited his green fingers from his mother, who was still planting potatoes and rhubarb in the sixties as she was afraid that they would once again be rationed. As a teenager he used to plant radishes in the corner of the school garden and sell them during break time for sixpence, to give his classmates a healthy crunchy snack. He and his wife both have had an allotment for years, but there is no competition – he does the planting and she does the harvesting and cooking. With a passion for growing anything edible, Boris has planted dozens of named fruit trees in his orchard. Nevertheless he is an avid flower arranger, and assists local communities and charities with his flower arrangements. Boris tells us that after so many years on the allotment he has made all the mistakes possible, and he will share with you his practice to make yours perfect!

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