Gardening as Exercise or Sore Muscles and Blisters

Ow! Ow! Ow! That's me, trying to sit in my office chair this morning. I've been doing a walking program and riding my exercise bike for awhile now, so I decided to indulge in a form of exercise that gave me a lot of pleasure in the past-- gardening.

I'm a Square Foot Gardener, as recommended by the Get Rich Slowly site. I SF Gardened for the past ten years, off and on. More off than on because of my weight and the fact that we moved a lot. Now we own a home, and I've lost enough weight to feel energetic again.
SF Gardening has several advantages, if you prepare properly. Because all the gardening is done in raised 4'x4' squares, there's less backbreaking labor weeding. Even I can reach easily into the center. This means I never compact the soil by walking on it.

However, all that ease later means you must do things right the first time. All it takes is a bit of preparation. I began last year by raking up all the leaves that fell in my yard and bagging them up. I allowed the leaves inside to rot, waiting for them to turn to delicious, nutritious leaf mold my plants would love to snack upon. I also started a compost bed and ordered a (free) pile of wood chip mulch from a local tree service.

One year later, and all is ready. Dante and I got out there and dug our first bed. We dug down a minimum of 12", and then built a wooden box to give us a full 24" of space to fill with a mix of soil, peat, compost, leaf mold, and nutrients. I couldn't have done all that last year. Wheeling the wheelbarrow from where the bags of leaves had been stored, hauling barrows of half-composted wood chips, dumping and mixing, as well as helping build the wooden box would have half killed me.

However, we had but one day to do this. The forecast called for rain all weekend, so Friday was our only chance. We finished and put away the tools just before dinner, tired and proud of ourselves. The bed is full of rich, black soil that is so perfectly friable. It's gorgeous. If the rain stops as predicted on Sunday, we'll stack the decorative bricks around the wood and mark our squares for planting.

This morning, I'm feeling the effects of all that hard work. Everything from the neck down hurts. However, we've done it. Now we can plant those nutritious vegetables for as long as we own this house. (Hopefully, until the day we die.) Maybe this fall, we'll start a second bed, but that's all we'll ever need. Right now, my muscles say, "Honey, right now you couldn't lift the shovel. Better wait." LOL! Guess this means I'd better wait a few more days before I weed and mulch the flower beds. Thank goodness, it's raining as predicted.


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