Grow your Own
I love my garden. Really I do. It provides me with a sense of calm, of achievement and joy, and hopefully in a couple of months, it will be providing my family and I with lots of delicious, nutrient rich fruit and veg.
How can you garden if you’re disabled? I hear you ask
Not easily, but there are ways around it.
I call it easy or passive gardening.
You see when I say I garden it is not like I mow the lawn or dig holes or lift up roots. Heavens no, sadly I cannot do any of that, I can’t even lift a big mug by myself most of the time. No my lovely husband has to do that (what makes this quite laughable is he doesn’t often).
I started my passive/easy gardening for the children. As we are home edding I wanted a way to teach the children (they are very young 2 & 5yrs 1 week) about lifecycles and responsibility. So the original idea was for it to be their garden.
So what do you need for passive gardening if it’s so simple?
Planters (I use empty wooden veg trays, donated (thanks freegle) plastic crates, an old butler sink, pots and grown bags)
Compost and potting compost
Seeds or growing seedlings from garden centre
No fear of getting filthy
Really that’s all you need. Simply put all you do is fill the planter with compost; make a hole with your hands or if that freaks you out, a small spade and place in your plant and push more compost around it. Then you just get a strong person to move the planter to an appropriate place and water it. To keep up with your gardens all you have to do is water (or if you’re disabled like me, get someone else to water) them and pull up any weeds who may get in and remove, or find an eco non-interactive way to remove slugs and snails (apparently according to a farmer I met the other day, WD40 around the lip/top of any container will work), etc.
Our mini gardens have been going for a month and a half now (since Easter week) and they are doing magnificently, and plants we thought we had massacred last year are growing back beautifully. This year, if all works well we will have:
Red Onions/White Onions
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Strawberries (grown in hanging baskets)
There may be more, I can’t remember. The great thing about gardening this way though is that you don’t need space and you don’t need health, merely the wish to do it. This really is a fantastic way to enjoy gardening even with little strength and movement, mobility issues are not a problem as you can sit and do them (as I did); yes your lugger of planters may have their work cut out but hey ho, them’s the breaks :)).
This now leads me to my political point.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Governments and charities adopt this way of thinking when it comes to helping the world’s poorest and setting foreign aid budgets. So why not adopt this at home?
What do you mean? I hear you ask. Well I, like everyone else have sat and watched the Government totally balls up welfare reform in this country. Using the script of “Labour ruined this country”, “austerity is a necessity”, etc etc etc and demonising of the poor, the needy and the disabled in the process.
While I don’t disagree with the sentiment that Labour did make a cock up last time, I also think it is totally wrong to put all the blame for the crisis we find ourselves in on one party: successive Governments in this country and abroad have adopted a type of free-market on speed approach to the worldwide economy which has landed up causing huge amounts of pain and suffering. Despite all the rhetoric though has anybody learned? The short answer is “No”.
With specific reference to the Tory policy of treating the poor and disabled as pariahs I get so angry as it is only a tiny fragment of people who abuse the system, the rest are decent people who have fallen on hard times, or have to live every day of their lives with pain, illness and disability. These are not people to demonise.
So what do we do? I hear you ask.
Well for a start the Government could actually do something truly radical. In the second world war we were bombarded with messages of digging for victory, we were told to produce our own food to provide for ourselves and free up ships for the war effort. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to adopt a similar position today? Instead of demonising the poor and not helping them, the Government could offer those on benefits incentives for growing their own; they could set up community gardens where people go to learn about food and grow their own (remember Cameron and Co, The Big Society). Surely this would create a sense of community and of responsibility?
Doing something such a this could help build communities, promote health and fitness, give people who would otherwise be reliant on help from foodbanks some control back. If people grew more than what they needed they could sell them on or start up a food swap. There are various co-operative groups around the country following a similar idea right now; I belong to one in Hampshire where there is a community garden (and although I cannot contribute to it due to health, I help out in other ways) and they actively encourage people to bring in food from their allotments, their gardens etc… and swap it. If you live in South Hants and you want to find out more then click here (I designed the new membership page).
If you’ve been inspired by this rant but you have even less space than I do, do not fear. There are numerous hanging planters which you can grow tomatoes and strawberries from upside down. Plus the idea of vertical gardening has been growing in popularity for a few years now (check out this BBC page for info about it ) and there are easy ways to get started too, check out this site for some cost effective ways to grow upwards. The Internet is awash with ideas, here’s a site on growing veg vertically or why not get some empty piping and give it a go yourself, layer them up and hang them from your fence!