Growing up, my mom always had the greenest thumb in the neighborhood. She was constantly out in our yard, puttering with one thing or another. I swear, that woman could have stuck any old stick in the ground, and it would grow for her! I don’t think I inherited her innate ability to nurture something from nothing, but I always had at least a few plants around the house, and with the help of my husband, managed to keep the lawn of whatever house we rented looking neat. I had never really considered full-blown gardening, though.
I’m young, but due to some early injuries, my back could never handle all the bending over and lifting required to keep a garden healthy and productive. When I bought my first house, however, the previous owner had installed raised beds, encircled by landscaping timbers, in both the front and back yards. This changed my view forever! Suddenly I was able to sit on the edge of the raised bed and weed, seed & feed to my heart’s content. Planting seeds and thinning seedlings became more joy than torture, and I could finally begin to understand the delight my mom had always taken in her yard and garden.
However, when we moved a bit farther north, the house we purchased didn’t have any raised beds. That first year, I tried to live with the little garden plot the previous owners had used, but it was just too painful, and I never really got started. All I managed was a few tomatoes and peppers and a handful of onions, and I was despairing of ever being able to garden again. So I was faced with a choice; either create raised beds, or find alternative ways to make gardening pleasurable again.
I took some time over the following winter and looked into the cost of raised beds, and also thought about the size restrictions. The beds in my old yard were all roughly 4′x4′, which kept them manageable from the edges, but they were admittedly inefficient in a number of ways. And I had always had to have my husband lug my big old tiller up onto the beds for me when it came time to turn the soil under. The cost was also rather prohibitive, but most importantly, it would have meant an amazing amount of shoveling and other backbreaking bending and lifting which I would likely have had to hire done (hubby’s handy, but he’s usually pooped by the time he gets off work, and I probably give him more than enough honey-dos on the weekends).
So, while I had really liked my raised beds, I figured there had to be ways to do my gardening without having to go to all the trouble of outfitting huge plots with tiny raised beds. I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me before, but I’m actually *not* the only person with back injuries who likes gardening! In fact, there’s an entire industry built around making things easier to reach and grab, both for folks who don’t like bending over (for whom the Earthway Garden Seeder is perfect), and for those who don’t like to climb ladders (I couldn’t have fruit trees if it weren’t for my fruit pickers). Granted, a lot of those tools are geared toward people twice my age, but I’m just thankful they exist.