It’s everywhere in the news—baby-boomers are aging. And coincidentally, there’s an increase in products that help aging bodies cope with gardening tasks. There are the scooters, like the “Deluxe Tractor Scoot,” which enables gardeners to work from a seated position, and “Gardener’s Kneelers,” which flips over to become a bench– both offered by Gardener’s Supply. These make gardening possible with considerably less bending– for simple knee issues there are knee pads and kneeling cushions to provide insulation from the hard ground.
The Arthritis Foundation has awarded products, ranging from home furnishings to cleaning products their “Ease of Use” commendation. These include several garden tools, including Fiskars’ Anvil Pruners and Flexon Guard-N-Grip Hose Connector. Most “Ease of Use” products require considerably less physical effort to use than their standard counterparts, and are tested by a panel of eight judges chosen for their medium to severe arthritis.
Small adjustments, and simple tools enable continued participation in activities we love. Larger adjustments can make even greater contributions; consider how sensible an option greenhouse gardening becomes when you are facing limited range of motion and less flexible joints. Here’s a way to plant while sitting or standing on a comfortable, level, man-made surface; greenhouses can even be made wheelchair accessible. Among the many reasons for erecting a greenhouse, planning for the future may be a particularly compelling one. Not only does the greenhouse extend the gardening season—it extends the period of one’s life when gardening remains possible. Having a sheltered space for puttering during the winter months encourages physical activity at a time of year when such opportunities are rare. Just having plants located at waist height (on benches) can be helpful as we age. And by equipping your greenhouse with thick rubber mats for standing and comfortable stools for sitting at the benches, you’ll probably make it that much likelier that gardening remains comfortable and fully accessible for many years to come.
Another good way to increase access to gardening outdoors is planting in containers. Thanks to concepts like “self-watering” containers, and the availability of containers constructed of lightweight materials, especially in combination with recent seed introductions (including many vegetables) bred for container culture– planting, maintaining and even– in the case of vegetables—harvesting, is possible for those with limited mobility.
No gardener wants to contemplate a time when gardening might be difficult. But measures like these don’t constitute surrender to the ravages of time. Simply think of them as preventative care!