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Is gardening still possible with an injured hand?

How To Garden While Injured

It happens to everyone at some point, we get injured. Injury brings garden progress to a halt. All those plans for fruit tree pruning, rose pruning, turning compost piles, etc., stop dead while injuries heal. Or do they?

I recently had a little roller disco accident while celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday. I think it’s needless to say, at this point, that “40th” and “roller disco” probably shouldn’t be uttered in the same sentence. But it happened, and I’ve been in a splint that immobilizes my left hand for over a week.

Is gardening still possible with an injured hand?
Is gardening still possible with an injured hand?

The world doesn’t stop turning when we get injured. The garden still needs our attention, and there are windows of opportunity that begin to close if not taken advantage of. So measures must be taken. Here’s what I did:

Ask for help – this is a great time to teach someone who is dying to learn more about gardening. Ask for help in exchange for a learning experience; it goes a long way. I’ve been coaching an intern on how to prune blackberries while I hold the canes out of the way with a rake in my good hand. You can invite friends or neighborhood kids over to help identify the difference between weeds and crops, or show someone how to properly turn a compost pile while you hold the hose to wet the pile down.

Take Cover – now that the pain subsided, the splint is just a nuisance. I’m not allowed to get it wet or dirty. A bit of a hazard to my profession, really. Enter the handy plastic bag.

A plastic grocery bag keeps water and dirt off the splint.
A plastic grocery bag keeps water and dirt off the splint.

I stuffed my 3 working fingers into the corner of the bag, which has a gusset like a puppet’s mouth. You can do almost anything with a thumb and forefinger (including typing this blog post).

A rubber band keeps the bag water-tight
A rubber band keeps the bag water-tight

Next, slip a rubber band over the bag to keep water out. With this tool, I can weed, water, and harvest my client’s gardens. Heavy lifting is still out, but at least it’s something.

Slow down – some things are just going to have to wait if you can’t find help or work around your injury. I’m taking this opportunity to appreciate a slower pace, observe instead of “do”, and make phone calls instead of emailing everyone (you have no idea how many typos I’ve had to correct while typing this).

Getting injured means being vulnerable. Vulnerability is scary, but if we lean into it, the universe shows up to help. It sounds spiritual, because it is. If you’ve had an experience where you’ve had to step back and let others help out (in the garden or otherwise) post your story here. And if you live in Los Angeles and want to learn how to prune fruit trees, build compost piles, shred biomass, or start seeds for spring, send me a note. I could use the help. 🙂

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Lori Richter

    Christy – I would love to learn and help you out. I live in Gardena and work till 1:30 during the week. Saturdays are good (except this Saturday).

    Its my 51st birthday tomorrow so I shouldn’t go disco roller skating? 🙂 That brings back some good teenage memories though.

    Let me know how I can help and when.


    1. Christy

      Hi Lori, thanks for your offer of help. Let’s take this chat off line. I’ll email you.

  2. Andrea Dowdell

    Hi Christy,

    First of all I hope that you continue to heal and are somewhat patient with your slower pace. I commend you on asking for help. That is terrific! It comes easier to women than men, I think. Last year, when I visited my family in Germany, my husband had incredible bouts of pain in his stomach region and drove himself to the emergency room while almost not making it. I, too, had to slow down last year as a herniated disk in my lower spine caused me to basically not do anything or be in excrutiating pain while moving slowly. It delayed my seed planting in February but luckily March was still fine to do so and I caught up with my tasks.
    I continue to read your postings and always learn something new. Currently, I am reading “the Intelligent Gardener” by Steve Solomon about growing nutrient-dense food, the 2013 edition. I had no idea on how important it is to replenish all those minerals, etc.

    1. Christy

      Thanks for sharing, Andrea. I seem to be on the same schedule as you were. March will be a better month, for sure! I’ll have to check out The Intelligent Gardener. Sounds great.

  3. Paula Waxman

    So sorry to hear about your injury! Ouch! This month, two days apart, two friends fell while on their morning walks. One broke both wrists, the other both legs. Which confirms my suspicions that sitting in a chair and resisting the urge to exercise might be better for one’s health.
    Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    1. Christy

      Hilarious! Paula, you make a good argument for a relaxing day. Be careful out there, people!

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