Gardener's Grapevine 2013.01.16

Written by David Green.

As I’m writing this I am sitting in my husband’s hospital room at Toledo Hospital. He had a total hip replacement two weeks ago. I pick on him and tell him it’s so he doesn’t have to help me plant and weed the gardens this year. The truth of the matter is, he had an injury deep in his hip in college and it was repeatedly misdiagnosed. There comes a point with every injury when it has to be treated with the most extreme treatment to correct the issue.

As gardeners we utilize our bodies in many varying ways. Anybody who has ever put in a good hard day working in a garden hauling dirt, emptying wheelbarrows full of weeds, stooping, straightening  and crawling around on the ground is sure to know the end result on their body. Muscle aches and stiffness to the max, with an exhaustion that will make you want to sleep the sleep of the dead. True garden lovers will do what it takes to get where they want to be.

In most work settings now, ergonomics is a huge part of running any company. If the employees are not aware of their body mechanics there will be an increase in injuries and employee down time. Poor ergonomics can cause a lot of expense. The same can be said in all your home work, in and out of the garden.

When working close to the ground, you need to be aware of soreness. Instead of bending at the waist, bend your knees. Not only does it save your lower back, it works your gluteal muscles which are hard to stretch and work out. This way of bending will give gardeners that tight backside we all strive for and not make you have such a sore back that you can’t move without pain.

When emptying a wheelbarrow or wagon do not overfill it. Trying to lift all that weight can strain any number of joints and muscles. I use a wagon that has a dump feature on it and it also has a 400 pound load capacity. Well the wagon may be able to hold 400 pounds, but I can’t begin to lift that amount of weight. To dump it you must release a handle in the front of the wagon and lift it up. If I had 400 pounds in it where would that leave me? If you don’t have a dump feature, use a pitchfork and clean the debris out. 

Ergonomics goes for the small bones and muscles also. Do you weed by hand? What kind of stress does this put on the joints and muscles in your hands? Most all garden tools that are long-handled are available in handheld versions. Many have padded handles to further cut the stress to your hand muscles.

My good friend Sandy Cahill taught me a great way to cut down on stress to your knees when kneeling down to work on something. Take a bed pillow, wrap it in plastic and kneel on it, and no sore stressed knees.

As I watch my husband go through physical therapy learning to walk again, it reminds me that we need to take care of our bodies and decrease the stress when and where we can. Gardens can be well tended without injury and stress to the caretaker.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
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    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
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    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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