"}
Outdoors

Extreme Gardening

Less pain, more gain

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I spent an afternoon sprucing up the yard at my father’s house on Lummi Island. It was a rainy day, so I put on my heavy-duty work boots and a hoodie to protect me from the inclement weather and proceeded to cram as much work as I could into an approximately three-hour period.

After raking up the tree debris from the most recent storm, pruning shrubs, yanking a plethora of weeds and ferrying the fallout in many sodden wheelbarrows full of downed limbs and assorted greenery, I was proud of the effect. And, while the garden looked much better, it wasn’t long before I realized I was so stiff and sore I could barely stand up—let alone walk.

I wish I could say this is the first time I’ve forgotten that the muscles required for gardening need to be rebuilt every spring, and that it’s not enough to have the tools and clothes required to get the job done. Unfortunately, I only realize the folly of my ways when the pain sets in and I’m shuffling around the house like an octogenarian with severe arthritis. 

In the two-plus weeks since my seasonal reckoning, I’ve put in many more gardening hours at my own yard in Bellingham, and—like many others who get excited about the long growing season in the Pacific Northwest—plan to do so until after the first frost sets in next fall. Luckily, I’ve gotten smarter about how I go about it. You can, too.

Before heading outside, I’ve made it a point to spend at least 10 minutes stretching—including runners’ stretches to loosen my legs, and various poses designed to ease back strain and knee pain (Google “stretches for gardeners” and you’ll find a wealth of ideas and images).

I’ve also used my internet research to implement other common-sense gardening tips designed to keep those who get their jollies by working in the dirt from feeling crippled by the end of the day.

For example, I’ve been pacing myself and trying to do the hard chores first, before I’m tuckered out. Last weekend, I gave myself the task of weeding the walk to the front door and the stretch of greenery in the front yard. I deposited the wheelbarrows full of weeds before they got too heavy, and paused a number of times to drink water and re-stretch. When the job was complete, I took a lunch break and then re-evaluated what else needed to be done. I still had some energy—and wasn’t sore—so I continued weeding in the backyard until I reached the point where my muscles were starting to feel the strain. 

Other tips I’ve been putting into effect include keeping my back as straight as possible while weeding, bending from the knees instead of the waist when lifting, taking care not to lift and twist in the same movement, changing hands from time to time while working with tools and stopping more often to rest and listen to what my body’s trying to tell me. 

While I realize gardening isn’t an extreme sport, those of us who toil to grow flowers and edible items for our dinner tables take it seriously, and are rewarded by seasonal swaths of color and attractive landscapes. When we can do it without feeling like we’ve just been to boot camp, it’s even better.

SVCR-0672 QMT_770x150 CW
More Outdoors...
River Dance
Bustin’ a move on Horseshoe Bend

I was visiting Glacier on important business recently when the thing that always happens to me up there happened again: I had an insatiable urge to ambulate the enveloping terrain that compelled me to initiate a protracted dash through the woods.

Ephemeral mist vapors atomized the sun…

more »
Park(ing) Day
Getting creative with concrete

In mid-July, Downtown Bellingham Partnership sent out a press release touting a Park(ing) Day event that would be happening Fri., Sept. 16 on the roof of the Commercial Street Parking Garage. Since then, they’ve decided to host the pop-up party—part of a national movement taking place the…

more »
Detour
Snohomish County’s secret side

If casino gaming or shopping malls have been your only reasons to exit the I-5 in Snohomish County, you’re missing out. Everett, Marysville, and Mukilteo offer a unique array of attractions, whether your interest is some R&R on a long strip of white sand, art, kid-focused fun or history.…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

4:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

A gold medal standard

4:00pm

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

The Happy Elf Auditions

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Making Miso

4:00pm|Skagit Valley Food Co-op

Not If But When

6:00pm|Burlington Public Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Bingo in Blaine

6:00pm|Blaine Senior Center

Wonton and Char Siu

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Roving Cocktail Party

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Eagle Presentation

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Blackfish Prophecy

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Beginning Square Dance

7:00pm|Ten Mile Grange

Monastery Talk

7:00pm|Bellingham Shambhala Meditation Center

Village Books Zoots Side Bar
Tomorrow
A gold medal standard

4:00pm

Eat Local Month

4:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bellingham City Club Meeting

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Lynden Book Club

12:30pm|Lynden Library

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Fun with Fermentation

4:00pm|Blaine Library

Ukulele for Everyone

4:00pm|Everson Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Bokashi Composting

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Teton Gravity Research's Tight Loose

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Bebel Gilberto

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Bebel Gilberto

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Northwood Steak and Crab Swinomish 2016
Thursday
A gold medal standard

4:00pm

Eat Local Month

4:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Final After-Hours Market

4:00pm|Depot Market Square

Ensembulele

4:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Autumn Soups

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Tame Your Inner Critic

7:00pm|Village Books

Little Women

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Looking for Betty MacDonald

7:30pm|Village Books

The Miracle Worker

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

The Music Man

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Zoots Side Bar Northwood Steak and Crab Everybody’s Store Artifacts Wine Bar Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Swinomish 2016 CW BOB 2016 Andrew Subin Bellingham Farmer’s Market