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Q&A: Ageless Gardens – Embracing Adaptive Gardening

With gardening being such a physical activity, it’s easy to understand how those who have a physical disability – or body parts that don’t cooperate like they used to – could be intimidated by the act of putting plants into the ground. Fortunately, innovative tools and solutions have been created for those who need help working in the garden.

On the season one finale of “Ageless Gardens” (Monday, March 12 at 9pm ET/6pm PT), meet a gardener who uses raised garden beds so she can continue her hobby after hip surgery, as well as disabled gardeners who use a variety of adaptive tools. Elsewhere, a woodworker builds tools for impaired gardeners, while a retiree downsizes her garden after her husband moves into a care home.

To get you ready for the Adaptive Gardening chapter of “Ageless Gardens,” Charlie Dobbin, host of ZoomerRadio’s Garden Show (Saturdays at 9am ET/6am PT), talks about adaptive gardening tools, as well as the future of such gardens.

Q: What is the best adaptive gardening tool/method that you have seen thus far? And, what makes it so great?

Charlie: “Any tool that provides comfort, strength and good value is cool by me! Many adaptive tools can be used by anyone. One of my favourite (and best-looking) tools is the Ergonomic 4-Piece Garden Tool Set made by Radius. Comfortable to use, unbreakable, and you’ll never lose them in the garden or composter since they come in super bright colours.”

Q: What is your perfect vision of an ideal adaptive garden?

Charlie: “An ideal adaptive garden is one that is accessible for everyone. All sizes, and shapes of people need to get into the dirt! No question bending down to ground level gets tougher as we age, therefore the best garden should be raised to a comfortable height. But not so high that the kids can’t help out too. Of course, it goes without saying the best gardens have excellent soil. A sandy loam with 10-20% organic matter is perfect. And most plants thrive best with at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight. For the gardener who needs a break from the sun, we’ll need some comfortable seating nearby, in the shade. We’ll also need a water source close by, and hopefully a fully accessible washroom too. We learn as we go to garden smarter – not harder.”

Q: Where do you see the future of adaptive gardening going?

Charlie: “Who knew there’s an organization called The Disabled Independent Gardeners Association operating in Vancouver, B.C.? It’s volunteer driven, and very inclusive. I imagine in the future we’ll see more community-based groups supporting gardening for everyone. As our population ages, there is more and more emphasis on living well, healthy lifestyles, and keeping ourselves happy. There is no better ‘happy place’ for everyone than in a garden!”

-Adam Grant

For more with Charlie, you can listen to her latest episode of “The Garden Show,” right here!