Thursday, July 5, 2012

Waist-High Gardening on a Grand Scale in Iron Station, North Carolina

And now for something a little different here on Mobile Studio Travels. Neither ElderCamping nor ElderHiking. Not even ElderKayaking. This is ElderGardening.

I don’t have the patience, skills, or optimism necessary to garden. So, ElderGardening is unlikely to become a regular feature here.

But my Dad up in Iron Station has all three. Raised on a side-hill OverHome farm, he knows what it takes to pull food up out of the dirt. And he’s recently applied those skills to a plot in Iron Station, North Carolina.

Garden-Rack SystemTraditional gardening can be hard on the back. It requires a lot of stooping and pulling. Not as easy as it once was when your 90th birthday is just weeks away. But there are alternatives. You you may have heard of “waist-high gardening.”

The principle is simple. Makes sense. Raise a patch of dirt from ground level to about waist height. The photos above are taken from the GardenRack website. One of the best waist-high gardening sites on the Web. Click here for a look.

There, Victoria, the Frugal Gardener, offers all sorts of information and encouragement. Just a few square feet of soil a few inches deep is all you need!

That’s what I expected when during a May or June phone call Dad mentioned he’d started waist-high gardening in the back yard of his Iron Station, North Carolina home. A few square feet of soil; maybe a watering can nearby. Not much fuss.

Well, after all these years I should have known better. With a wonderful neighbor from across the road as co-conspirator, Dad now is cultivating a “waist-high garden” fully four feet wide and twelve feet long. The dirt is one foot deep, or a little more, throughout.

That’s 48 cubic feet of dirt! Now, at between 75 and 80 pounds per cubic foot, that’s at least 3,600 pounds of dirt! Before adding water, fertilizer, and plants. Don’t forget weeds. Though I suspect few of them will survive.

Imagine how sturdy the frame of this “waist-high garden” has to be to support all that weight. No worries there. It’s built like a brick …. ah, …. brick patio.

07 bottomHeavy, treated lumber bolted together, with gravel and perforated iron sheeting at the bottom to facilitate drainage. What a project!

Speaking of drainage, here’s the irrigation system. A hose runs from the wellhead directly to the garden. Buried underground most of the way, of course.

Here you see America’s oldest living garden moisture meter. Sold not long after the invention of water, it seems. “Waste not; Want not!” Still working, though. Dad keeps close track of soil moisture with this. At all levels.

Tools so far are elementary. Here’s one of the most important. Now, I expect to see modifications in this department during future visits. Just too much temptation! Mechanization? Steam engines? Miniature tractors? I wouldn’t be surprised …. But for now, just simple gardening tools.

So, does all of this work? You bet! Below are just a few of the plants already producing.




With plenty more to come.

So there you have it. Waist-high gardening on a near-commercial level. Special thanks to Ron across the road who designed, engineered, and constructed this remarkable facility. Waist-high gardening indeed.

1 comment:

  1. love this. thanks for sharing! what a great person Ron is who did this for your dad, bless him!