[gardeners] Gardening for those who allegedly can't

Margaret Lauterbach (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Fri, 27 Jul 2001 10:22:44 -0600

Some time ago a fellow posted a note on another list that ultimately 
improved the quality of my life by about 1000 percent.  I feel I should 
post this note so that it might improve someone else's life in the same way.

His post read "I'm an above-knee amputee, but I garden in raised beds from 
the seat of my mobility scooter. I plant, water, fertilize, weed and 
harvest, with a bucket between my feet for weeds or produce."

Some of you know that two years ago my right leg was amputated above the 
knee. "They do wonderful things with artificial limbs now" is not something 
you'll hear an above-knee amputee say.  I can walk, but only with the aid 
of crutches. Friends bought me a heavy-duty walker for Christmas the first 
one after my surgery. Yes, I could use that to walk to the garden, but our 
intervening lawn is quite rough, and by the time I got to the garden, I was 
pooped and had to go to the bathroom.  So it was turn around and struggle 
to get back inside.  I could do a little hoeing from the seat of the 
walker, but not much.

Most AK (above knee) amputees I know who garden do so by scooting on the 
ground. My veggie garden is 80 feet wide, and about 40 feet deep at one 
end, too large to scoot in.  Since DH had angioplasty last fall, I knew his 
health wasn't up to hauling many yards of earth to fill raised beds.  I 
wanted to continue to use my own garden soil, since I'd spent about 28 
years improving it.  We hired a fellow with a tractor to scrape out paths, 
putting dirt into ridges in the garden. Then we hired another fellow to 
build containment boxes.  Then it was so easy to rake soil down level in 
those boxes I did it myself on a couple of the beds.  I ended up with four 
4X17 foot raised beds (raised about 15 inches high). Then we bought a Pride 
mobility scooter (4-wheeled because of our rough terrain).  The seat 
swivels and locks at 45, 90 and 180 degrees.  The only thing that is a 
problem is my big feet (one prosthetic). But I can deal with that. I'm 
using a long-handled scraping hoe to get weeds when they're small, and a 
long-handled trowel.

Pulling weeds is fun, when you haven't been able to do it for over a 
year.  I continued to plant a few crops in the ground. Tomatoes, winter 
squash and pole beans are planted in the ground. The raised beds are just 
great. At the tractor magician's suggestion, we ordered 3/4 road mix (sand 
and gravel) for the paths.  Things like beans and squash are so much easier 
to pick from raised beds, even for DH, that we're both sorry we didn't do 
this a long time ago.

I'm not looking for sympathy. Many people lose limbs because of infections, 
cancer, car crashes or other traumas. I just had a blood clot.  Margaret L