This year we are focusing on building up new sections of the garden area. We laid wood chips in a thick layer. Then, we laid down cardboard. On top of it all, we placed straw bales. Hopefully in a season or two, we'll have a foot or more new, rich, composted soil over the hard, compacted red clay and granite rocks in which to grow vegetables in.
Straw bale gardening is another adaptive gardening technique. But for us, I'm not talking a dozen straw bales. I got fifty of them. As I said, our garden needs to provide a year's worth of vegetables for us. Each row around the perimeter of the garden took 10 bales a side in a trapezoid shape. This is all new ground for the garden. It was previously a rough driveway of sorts. Now, with the new driving areas graveled in, we've got a definite borders to the garden besides just a fence.
While planting or transplanting these bales, would be a classic adaptive or handicapable garden, the interior of the garden is the standard row planting. Unlike the previous year where I misplanted some crops in low raised beds that should have been elevated, this year I'm actually mapping it out before I plant. I know what I need to plant where.
I'm also not listening to Mel this year. Her idea of walkways between rows and mine are feet apart . Her ideal walkway between tomato plants is 2' when actually with the sprawling growth, tomatoes really need 4' between rows. I just really have difficulty managing to weed and harvest in that narrow of a row spacing. My toy box won't fit between the rows once the plants reach full maturity. We are still growing potatoes in tires. Old tires are easy to manage. It's upcycling although there is some concern about toxicity of old tires. We roughly get 50 lbs of potatoes a year and that is just about right for the two of us to consume. I just throw another tire on the stack and compost as it rows. I usually stop mounding tires and compost when I get five tires stacked. That's roughly 5lbs of potatoes for each tire. We usually do two tire towers for 50 lbs. To harvest, it's simply removing the tires one by one and pulling the potatoes out. The soil can be mixed with new compost and it's recharged for the next plants.
If you are only raising two or three tomato plants a raised bed is dine, but this year we'll be plant a minimum of 25 plants between Roma paste tomatoes and Cherokee blacks. The same goes for other vegetables too. For seedling planting or seeds, I carry two sticks. One is 6" long and one is 3' long. Can you guess why? The 6" stick is for elevated raised bed planting. Out beds are only 3 1/2' wide. It's an easy reach to the center of the beds. The 3' stick is for ground level planting. It's also a substitute cane if I need it. I use a lot of different things in the garden that can substitute for my cane; a rake or hoe works wonderfully. I can get pretty creative when it comes to my mobility issues and doing what I want/need to do.
I say that living post stroke has been an adventure. In a way it has been a great blessing. A blessing?! I hear y'all now wondering how anyone would consider surviving a stroke is a blessing. "Jo, you've stepped off the ledge and are free falling into the crazy zone!" My response is still, it's a blessing. Hear me out.
- I have met many wonderful and supportive people since my stroke. Ones I may not have met otherwise.
- In spite of all that I lost in abilities, I've found new and creative avenues to enjoy that I may not have tried if it weren't for my strokes.
- I'm thinking more outside the box to achieve what I want out of life. Admittedly, I've always thought outside the box, but now it's extreme and I love it.
- Through the frustrations in attempting to live my life post stroke, I've developed a more patient attitude. See, God, it's working.
- Through my pain, I have a deeper compassion and empathy for others than I had before. I can relate more on a one by one basis.
- Through my limited ability, doors or windows open that were closed shut before.
Sure, adaptive gardening techniques are for small time gardeners. But sometimes, the end results can be greater than you first thought. I'm still trying to get back to the production levels here as I had on my old property. It will happen. It just takes time. I'm patient. Hear that God! I'm being patient.
Nothing is impossible.