Tips and techniques for the ‘Seasoned’ gardener: Part I
by Marilyn Odneal, Horticulture Adviser
Susanne Howard, horticulturist at the State Fruit Experiment Station, mentioned to me that, “My mind does not feel quite as old as my body sometimes does. I used to be able to pick strawberries all day without a second thought. Now, I feel the activity for days after the fact.” Both Susanne and I have recently realized that we are no longer “spring chickens” and we need to find some different ways of doing our garden chores.
Even if you are a spring chicken, people both young and old can benefit from using tools and techniques that make gardening easier and less time consuming. One company manufactures hand tools with curved green handles to make it easier for people with a weakened grip to use. The grip is designed to let the wrist and hand remain in a natural position while working. The company has also developed an “O” handle that makes longer tools easier to use. You can look at these tools at http://radiusgarden.com
Susanne uses a combination kneeler/garden seat that you must carry around. She notes that, “It is a bit inconvenient if you have to move around a lot, especially if you have other items to carry.” We have been looking at a strap-on stool to use for picking bush crops like blueberries and gooseberries as well as cane crops like raspberries and blackberries.”
The one-legged stool has a nylon belt that is tied around the waist and has straps extending from the belt to the seat of the stool that adjusts to your body. The seat is made of plastic and the single metal leg adjusts to three different heights for different tasks. There is a spring at the end of the metal rod so it will not sink in the ground. The strap-on stool was originally designed for milking cows and may be obtained from farm supply stores. It is also called a “bumblebee” stool since you walk around with a metal rod and spring attached to your behind, resembling a bee’s stinger. Go to the healthy farmer’s site at http://bse.wisc.edu/HFHP/tipsheets_html/stool.htm for more information (University of Wisconsin Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project, October 2001; Second Edition.).
Of course, raised beds make gardening easier and more accessible. In the next column, we will talk about different raised bed ideas. Keep in mind, you still have time to find some user-friendly garden devices as holiday gifts for yourself or your more “seasoned” gardening friends.
EASING THE BACK STRAIN OF GARDENING – Susanne Howard, the horticulturist at the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station of the Mountain Grove Campus who manages the educational gardens, likes to sit on the wooden frame set on concrete blocks surrounding the raised beds since it is more comfortable for weeding. She also uses a combination kneeler and garden seat to help with other garden activities.