Do you find kneeling, crouching, and bending in the vegetable garden is getting harder as you get older? Well, you’re not alone! But, don’t despair there's an easy solution that will keep you plodding in your vegetable allotment until you’re pushing daisy’s yourself! It’s called Stand up Gardening.
That’s right all we have to do is stand there and garden. We can weed the patch, plant out seedlings, till the soil, fertilise the ground, water our little precious plants, and harvest our crops all from the standing position and believe me when I say it is good!
Personally, I wouldn’t call myself too old (but I’m getting there being in my mid-forties); however, I have several injuries (some very serious with parts of me missing from my military service) which makes getting down and up in the garden difficult. Unfortunately, I know that as I age my ailments are just going to get worse but I do still love being active especially in the garden and I can’t fathom giving it away so it was time for me to get smarter and make a plan now to help me garden into the future.
There’s lots of people who are the same or much worse than I when it comes to gardening with aliments. The fact is though, we’re all still better off staying active rather than becoming sedentary. Just because our body hurts when we do a little gardening is not a sign we should give it away. Activities like gardening keeps us fit and healthy but we needn’t cruel ourselves just to get the benefits.
There was a saying we had in the Army, “Why do it hard when you can do it easy?” Stand up gardening makes this healthy hobby safer and far less strenuous without making the whole process without effort because let’s face it we want some exercise!
So we know what stand up gardening is, but how do we get there? Actually, it’s very easy and it won’t cost a ton of money either; although, I have to be honest and say garden beds for stand up gardening does take a little extra effort to set up and the garden beds I recommend aren’t free but they are worth it.
Firstly, we need raised garden beds and I don’t mean knee high – I mean at least waist high about 80 cm or even up to 1 metre/yard high. This is a comfortable height for most people and is perfect for stand up gardening.
I like to use colorbond or galvanised steel raised garden beds because they are strong, look good, easy to build, last for decades, and come in various shapes or colours. Of course, you could build a raised garden bed at a similar height out of other materials such as wooden sleepers or brick etc; however, the sums don’t add up cost wise compared to the colorbond/galvanised beds.
Someone saw my raised galvanised beds on YouTube the other day and commented on them saying, “Oh, I love your huge pots,” but of course they were actually raised beds. I can see how people mistake my raised beds for large pots because they are essentially containers filled with dirt just like a pot (only much bigger).
I quite like the simple round beds about a metre or so wide because I find them perfect to stand up garden in and walk around them. It’s amazing just how many plants you can stuff in one of these cylindrical beds! You can even trellis plants up in the centre and let other plants tumble over the sides instead of staking to get even more surface area out of the bed.
Also, I have 3 oval shaped beds, which are quite long (3.5m x about 1.5m wide) these were my first raised colorbond beds I ever got and they actually take quite a bit of filling (see this article if you want to know more about how to fill a raised garden bed and what to fill it with) but as far as practicality goes these beds are superb.
Newly filled large oval raised garden beds (image above)
My 65 year old mother only recently got back into food gardening after seeing how easy it was to use these higher raised garden beds. She only needs one of the large oval beds to grow much of the greens she needs and it not only saves her back but it’s saving her money in groceries too!
The four cylindrical beds I have were purchased by chance several years after buying the large oval ones. I got them from my local garden supplies centre when they sold them off at half price (God knows why they couldn’t sell them) and now I love these smaller round colorbond beds even more than the larger ones. I’m definitely going to buy another 4 (possibly 6) smaller round raised garden beds to add to my vegetable garden and I’m even considering using some for hard to grow fruit trees like dwarf avocadoes.
Kale, spinach, with a capsicum in the centre of a waist high galvanised raised garden bed (image above)
Although these types of raised beds are essentially huge pots or containers, they tend to act just the same as a regular garden bed in the ground mainly because of the sheer volume of earth. What I mean is, large raised garden beds hold moisture well and don’t leach out nutrients like potted gardens. Watering is simple – you don’t get run off, and if you want a watering system just daisy chain several raised beds together with one length of ploy pipe and one or two risers or soakers per bed.
Nope, furrows or raised sleeper beds at knee height are a thing of the past for me and when my aging pine and hardwood beds finally succumb to white ants and wood rot I’m replacing them all with waist high colorbond steel or galvanised raised beds.
I highly recommend stand up raised garden beds for everyone who’s seriously into backyard food gardening because why do it hard when you can do it easy…
If you're looking to buy colorbond raised garden beds there's a huge range on eBay here.
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Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
Look, and see the Earth through her eyes…