Ready to get growing?

Common sense gardening tips from Loretta Fritz, using her most important gardening tool.

  • Wed Mar 27th, 2013 10:00am
  • Life

A couple of weekends ago, I took advantage of a sunny Saturday to make a wee dent in the outdoor non-tree pruning chores. Lurking persistently in my mind was last month’s presentation at the Sooke Garden Club by Dr. Grant Parker, a local chiropractor. He discussed and demonstrated good ergonomics for gardeners, and his main message was: “Your most important gardening tool is your body. Take care of it by practicing proper body mechanics.”

So throughout the day, I attended to bending correctly, working as close as possible to the victim of my secateurs (a.k.a. clippers), keeping my feet parallel, straight ahead and shoulder-width apart, not twisting, etc. These ‘tips’ are common sense, of course, but it’s surprising, upon reflection, how often we hurt ourselves, however slightly or seriously, because we are in a hurry, not using protective gear or the appropriate tool, reluctant to ask for assistance, and so on.

Another important but frequently overlooked gardening tip, ergonomically speaking, is to use tools that are in good condition. Pruning shears, for example, should always be clean and sharp. Not only does this make them easier and safer to use, but it also prevents damage and the spread of diseases to the plants. Examining my secateurs on that sunny afternoon, I couldn’t help but cringe at their state. Then I thought about the shovels, electric clippers, garden scissors … yikes! For whatever reason, my long-standing good intentions hadn’t spontaneously produced the desired results. Now, where to begin?

Although Dr. Grant’s presentation focused ways to look after our bones, joints and muscles when gardening, it gave rise to questions concerning the tools we (should) buy and use to address specific gardening tasks. And because March on the Coast signals that it’s time to get serious about the garden, it is particularly timely to think ergonomically and get some answers to these questions.

This month, Sooke Master Gardener and community educator Paula McCormick will pick up (and go beyond) this theme when she presents ‘Getting Ready for the Growing Season – Indoors and Out!’ Her talk will focus primarily on three areas: 1) tools – getting tools that fit the gardener; 2) tool maintenance – cleaning, sharpening and storing essential tools; and 3) seed selection and starting methods – choosing the right seeds and techniques to produce successful starts. A long-time gardener herself, Paula has loads of information and practical advice to share with novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Loretta Fritz

Please join us Wednesday, March 27, 7:30 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Townsend Road. Also on the agenda: parlour show, sale of indoor plants, purchase of contest potatoes. New members are always welcome. Membership is $15 for the calendar year and can be purchased at the door. For more information, email sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca or phone Rose at 250-642-5509.