by Ned Stoller Ned Stoller

Spring is here! (Or at least the official date, it snowed yesterday       here.) The birds have arrived and are chirping. If you are from Michigan as I am, then the arrival of the common Grackle is a great sign. (Robins frequently winter over here, so don’t really count as a spring bird.) Maple syrup season is in full swing and it is time to start planting in the house. The mailbox is beginning to be stuffed with a myriad of seed and nursery catalogs. 

We start with tomatoes and peppers, usually around 80 to 100 or so – tomato sauce is one of our staples (we usually put up around 140 – 160 quarts) that is essential to keep four growing kids fed! One year we lost count planting and ended up with somewhere around 300+ plants – I’ll never forget the kids parading about the front yard with a sign trying to raise money. (We did sell all of the tomatoes and were able to send some money to Compassion International for the Haitian hurricane victims)

It won’t be too long before we can get out and start putting in the early crops like onions – once enough of the snow melts, the ground dries out some, and I can get the tiller out. At least it is a better winter than last year – we did have snow.

Gardening can be one of the most relaxing, enjoyable, rewarding endeavors there is – regardless of your “limitations.” There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly tilled soil. I can often envision what the garden will look like come July when some vegetables start to produce. Hands down our favorite is fresh tomatoes. One of my daughters is a diehard tomato sandwich lover and can’t wait til they are ready to harvest. 

There are many ways to enjoy gardening regardless of any disability or injury you might have. There are also lots of ways to keep gardening with an infirmity. Check out  for some great blogs about gardening while disabled and some pretty great pictures as well! The author is a wheelchair user and can share some great Wheelchair Garden Toolinsights for gardening with wheels. 

Easi gripFor many of us, gardening can be a struggle and a challenge, and may not seem worth the extra effort. However, remember what the end product will be like! Many is the time when I have had to really struggle to get something done in the garden (like tilling or planting) but it has always been worth it. Being able to enjoy fresh, homegrown produce is very satisfying, as is the sight of flowers blooming. Do whatever you can to keep that feeling alive. 

Here’s a couple of ideas to make that job easier.

These easi grip garden tools make it much easier to grasp and hold and take strain off of your hands, wrists and back. For wheelchair users, these wheelchair garden tools can make it much easier without long handled tools which can be cumbersome.
Rolling work seatUse a rolling garden seat while working out there. The seat will raise or lower, and the front wheels can turn to move easier.
Don’t have a tractor with a three point hitch and PTO driven cultivator? The tow behind tiller can take care of the job for you. The ATV cultivator and ATV garden planter are also great options. 


Here are a few other ideas you might like:

1.  Self coiling garden hose to avoid handling heavy hoses. 

2.  Automatic garden hose reels 

3.  Elevated garden beds for wheelchair or seated gardeners.  Make sure they are the right height and width for your comfort.  (check this out for some great tipson gardening this way.) 

4.  Placing hanging pots on a pulley to enable raising and lowering the pot. 

5.  Vertical wall planters. (here are some ideas from Chicago Botanic Gardens) 

6.  Use pavers for garden paths for easier movement. 

7.  Use sprayer wands to reach those out-of-reach plants without blasting them. 

8.  If you are just getting started DON’T overdo the number of plants you are planting, or you could get discouraged! 

If you have any insights to share about gardening while disabled or injured, please let us know.

One of our missions at DWT is to enable folks to continue to enjoy life to its fullest, and in my book that includes gardening! Happy planting!