Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mobility-accesible gardening

A few weeks ago my friend Tara put out a call for some gardening help. I had some spare plants, a free afternoon and a desire to get to know Tara better. She organized two work nights, and I offered to meet her on the second night.


Tara largely, but not exclusively, relies on a wheelchair to get around. A mobility-accessible plot was available in the community garden along the Madison bike path at the corner of the Capitol City Trail and Ohio Street. Mobility-accessibly plots are raised beds (really raised, like 3 feet or so) and have easy wheelchair access on all four sides.


The Capitol City Trail is not just a bike path, but home to a string of community garden plots along an abandoned rail corridor.













I arrived before Tara and found this raised mobility-accessible bed. But it looked nothing like what Tara described. This was tidy, weed free and planted. I continued to explore the garden.
I found a second raised bed that looked (mostly) accessible. It was obvious work had been done around the plot  -- thick grass  stems belied the size of what had been growing there. A few big weeds had been removed from the bed, but otherwise, the plot needed some serious weeding. Not sure if this was Tara's plot, I decided to jump in. Literally, I broke my own rule to "never step in the bed" and climbed into pull weeds.
Within 30 minutes, I removed all but a sprig of catnip and a clump of chives. I made a large but tidy pile of catnip in case Tara had cats (turned out she does!), and I made another pile of lambs quarters for Jay and I to eat.
Tara arrived, and we decided that the much-neglected bed needed to be filled in, both to make it easier to get at the soil and to amend what was in the bed. I drove to the local hardware store and bought 30 bags of composted manure and one bale of peat moss. A neighboring gardener lent us a small rototiller to mix the manure and peat moss in with the existing soil, and we soon had a fluffy mix to plant in.



We planted my six tomato and five peppers, and then I got out my seed packets. We planted peas, lettuce and cilantro. We had so much fun together we decided to go to the very nearby Harmony Bar for walnut burgers and hot chips. What a great way to spend an afternoon and evening with a friend!