Raised Garden Boxes:
There were many boxes of flowers around Craig Hospital where I did my rehabilitation and I was surprised when I found out they were maintained by the patients. As part of their recreation program there was a course in horticulture. The boxes were made out of cement and were formed by a large square which sat on the ground. When I returned home my nieces and nephews, who knew how much I enjoyed gardening, had built four garden boxes out of hardwood lumber. The boxes maintain the same size from the ground to where the flowers or vegetables were planted. It quickly became evident to me that working these boxes from the side caused a lot of neck discomfort.
My son and I decided to design new boxes, built from pressure treated wood, that were open on two sides so I could drive my wheelchair underneath them and work straight on. The new ones were much better but they still presented some unique problems because of the construction. The 2” by 8” which made up the planting area did not allow for the soil to be deep enough. In the first year, most of the vegetables planted did not grow very well. The following year, as you can see from the picture on the right, we added about 3 inches to the height of the planting area. This allowed adding another 250 pounds of soil to the bed. Also, in an effort to cut down on moisture evaporation we added Hydro-Sorb to the soil. Hydro-Sorb retains water and releases it a little at a time. These two changes made the boxes much more successful. We did not find it necessary to increase the depth of the flower boxes. Prior to placing the boxes, the area under the boxes must be prepared. This is not necessary if they will be placed on cement or any other solid surface. If placed on the ground you must assure good drainage.
I now have 6 boxes, four I plant with vegetables and the other two with annual flowers. I enjoy working these boxes very much. I use adaptive garden tools which can be bought online. Each spring I must work up the soil, which gives me a good gauge of my strength and range of motion. During the growing season I pick the wilted flower heads off the plants (called deadheading) which is great exercise for my fingers. The vegetables must be weeded and thinned. If the weather is not cooperating the plants must be watered. The vegetable boxes provide us with salt potatoes, broccoli, onions, baby carrots, beets, beans and garlic. Gardening is good for many different reasons.