In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
October, 2007
Regional Report

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Use a combination of homemade compost and store-bought planting mix to fill large planters.

Alternative Ways of Gardening

People create all sorts of gardens for a variety of reasons. Some clever garden designs are inspired by physical limitations, others just seem like good ideas. I recently created a box garden that eliminates the need to dig in the ground and thus reduces the impact of gardening on my bones and joints. The garden box is 30-plus feet long and 3 feet high and wide. Built of 2x6s and attached to 4x4 posts set in concrete, its sides are lined with landscape cloth that extends a few inches into the bottom of the box. Sturdy, yes, and I'm glad, since it took a lot to fill it: my well-composted pile of shredded hackberry tree about the size of a child's swingset, two pickup loads of soil from the nursery, 10 large bags of ground pine bark mulch, and numerous odd pots of soil leftover from this and that.

Chain Gangs
If you're short on windowsill space, you can make your plants rise above furniture yet be convenient. Hanging baskets and multi-pot hangers can raise and lower on chains and ropes secured with hooks in the ceiling and anchored on the wall at whatever height is handy. You can make a system from hardware store components, or purchase a more decorative one. Just be sure your lift can support whatever containers you want to elevate. Watering can be a challenge, especially on porches and indoors, but an indoor hose will help keep things neat.

Necessary Adaptations
There are many ways to create gardens. A friend who lost her legs created sunken gardens to extend her natural reach a bit further. She tends them by sitting at ground level. Another friend has planter boxes made from recycled scaffolding with very strong pipe supports. The pipes encircle her courtyard and she can roll between the boxes to reach every inch of growing area. Other gardeners adapt tools as well as space to best uses. As one friend who lost the use of one arm once said, "I garden left-handed and left-handed only, but the plants don't seem to care."


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