Last week I underwent hip surgery to correct issues that started last fall when I slipped on ice and fell in my yard while out feeding the animals.
I ended up with a hip impingement and labrum tears that resulted in my bone being shaved and the tears being cleaned up and mended. My orthopedic surgeon is considering that my surgery was a success and that now I am on the road to recovery. Which turns out to be an anticipated long road.
With spring here and happening, I’m having a hard time imagining that there is high probability that I won’t be able to plant my typical garden this year.
My typical garden these past few years consisted of a few thousand heirloom tomato plants, multiple varieties of peppers, kale, melons, squash and an array of nearly every other edible that you can grow in our area. So it only makes sense that I would, if anything, need to drastically downsize my efforts in order to heal.
My limitations currently are many which include not bearing more than 20 pounds on my operated leg. How you figure out how much weight is 20 pounds is still beyond me and I’m trying my best not to damage anything that my doctor corrected.
I am estimated at at least three months before I can lift anything with actual weight and near four months before I can squat near the ground to pull weeds. There are many ways to look at this growing season and see that it can easily be disastrous. But then I try my best to look at the bright side of things and try to figure out a way around every obstacle.
I have had ample time to Google and look on Pinterest to gather plenty of ideas on how to garden without having my physical therapist getting angry with me.
One example is how to plant your tomato transplants using a length of pvc pipe. First you choose one with a diameter large enough to accommodate your transplants for when you slide them to the hole in the ground through the inside of the pipe. But before you start sliding your plants through, you need to dig a hole. To do this you will need to stab the pipe into the ground, and use it to scoop out the soil to the proper planting depth. Then go ahead and slide your plant into the hole. From there you can use your foot to help push the soil up over the roots and to help anchor it in.
This is something that I think I will be able to do even while being on crutches and wearing my hip brace.
Another great idea was one I picked up from my friend Teresa Lutton of Michigan City’s Country Flavor Farm. I was talking about how I didn’t plant my potatoes this year how I had planned, because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to hoe them the way I would feel the need to do. Which, post-op, I realize that is a reality.
Teresa shared the way she plants her potatoes, which is by using large shrub/tree pots and placing a bit of soil on the bottom. She then plants her potatoes on top and layers composted leaves, material from the spring cleaning of her pond and organic potting soil. She fills this mix to almost the top of her container, eliminating the need to hill her potatoes at all. When she’s ready to harvest, all she has to do is dump over the planted container.
There are so many folks that I have met over the years that have both physical and mental limitations that make gardening more of a challenge. However, they don’t seem to let that stop them from growing everything under the sun. They learn to adapt, which is something that I have witnessed for years through nature in watching plants but not so much realizing that it happens with people as well.
Granted this growing season will be more of a learning experience for me than in past years, but I will do my best to embrace it all while trying to find tips on how I can better help others once I am recovered and able to do so.
I’m slated for a six month recovery, so I will surely share with you any tips that I discover while wishing you all a great gardening year. It looks like I will be frequenting more of the area farmers markets this year as a customer instead of working them as a vendor, which sounds like it could be a fun experience as well.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at email@example.com.