Contributor Kate Chamberlin – The Skateboard Gardener

A person who loves to garden rarely does so to burn calories.  Gardening has been viewed as a leisure activity, soothing to the spirit, a satisfying blend of nature and nurture. 

Experts are agreeing that gardening is, in fact, a healthy exercise, even if it isn’t the heart-thumping aerobic variety.  Gardens may look plush or serene, but gardening can include low-level but beneficial physical activities: stretching, bending, lifting, pulling and carrying.  For many people, the simple, down-to-earth physical demands of gardening provide a relief from stressful routines of home or workplace.  And the joy of gardening serves as a mood-booster, enhancing emotional health and feelings of well-being. 

Some tips for gardeners:

Always wear a hat, gloves and sunscreen when working outside.  Wear comfortable non-binding clothing.

Drink plenty of water – plants aren’t the only ones who can suffer from dehydration.    

Try to schedule gardening time for early morning or late afternoon.  Avoid the midday heat and intense ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Use a padded knee rest for extended periods of gardening work.  I sit on a skateboard to roll around my square-foot garden.

Bend from your knees.  Avoid the “touch toes” position to reach down for weeds, tools or supplies.

Wash hands carefully after gardening to clean soil-borne bacteria or other potentially harmful substances from the skin.   

Select a garden size and style that promises diversion, not demands, and which can survive with a flexible schedule of attention.   

If a personal garden isn’t feasible, explore the opportunities to participate in a community garden plot or beautification project. 

Enjoy the beauty of the garden at every stage, and consider it a positive reflection on the gardener, no matter how modest the effort.    

Take time to stop and smell the roses and the vegetables along the way!

As for me, I experienced a bit of a gardening conundrum recently.  The weather was perfect for outdoor chores.  I took my skateboard and went out to weed the perennial beds along the patio and brick walks.  Since I planted the beds years ago, I know exactly what is supposed to be growing in there–everything else gets pulled.  The sun felt warm as I assigned a problem to each weed and yanked.  The air became noticeably cooler when the clouds moved in.  I heard   sprinkles on the wide brimmed straw hat I was wearing.  I put my hand out, palm up to check for rain.  No rain. 

I yanked more weeds.  This time, I felt sprinkles on my face and heard it hit the underside of my hat brim.  I know the Rochester area weather is strange, but to rain up?  As I pulled more weeds, I finally realized what was happening.  The mature seed pods of the weeds that had wintered-over were spring loaded.  Whenever I touched them or the wind blew, the heads would knock together, bursting open to launch the next generation of weeds.  “Spring has sprung” has a whole new meaning for me now.

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