Monday, September 14, 2015

Extreme Gardening

"What do you do for exercise?" a doctor asked me at a recent visit.
"Extreme gardening," I said.


You might laugh, Doctor, but it's true.

In spring I work on muscle building, using such exercise equipment known as the 'shovel' and the 'wheelbarrow'.  When an extreme gardener spends two months moving compost from the town dump to her five new and very large raised beds, believe me, the gardener finds arm, leg, and back muscles she never knew she had.


And to make sure that I hit all muscle groups possible, I alternate 'soil-moving' with such exercise moves as 'swinging the pick-axe', 'edging the garden beds' (which is a surprising calf exercise for those of you who have never used a half-moon edger), and, of course, the popular 'rock-excavating' (a local, New England whole body exercise that also works on character-building by way of keeping one's temper).


Once summer hits, I move to focusing more on legs, abs, and triceps.  Days spent pulling hundreds of weeds means many lunges, squats, and, well, whatever the technical name is for 'bending over'.  Extra focus is given to stamina and speed.


Now that it is late summer, I am working on flexibility and balance.  The garden has turned into a jungle-like training ground, and in order to harvest, prune, weed, or do pretty much anything, one must stretch and twist one's limbs into unnatural, pretzel like poses - without falling over into said jungle.

You know those people in spy movies that bend and flip over red laser beams so as not to set of any alarms?  Those people have nothing on a gardener that has to somehow harvest her cucumbers on the far side of the garden bed without breaking any of the multiple plant stems criss-crossing her path.


You might worry, Doctor, about what exercise I might do during winter, and rightly so.  But don't worry too much - around here, 'extreme gardening' has a tendency to give way to another popular local exercise known as 'extreme snow-removal'.


Let's just say those shoveling muscles come in real handy.

28 comments:

  1. Haha! Great post! And the best thing about extreme gardening, is that we don't have to force our bodies into lycra gym wear.

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    1. Oh my, that's for sure! It's much more enjoyable than the gym, and I can wear whatever ratty and comfy clothes I want!

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  2. Lol. I'm with you. With the possible exception of extreme snow shifting. But with an El Niño (cold) winter forecast for us this year, anything's possible,

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    1. You just never know with the weather anymore, do you? I definitely think we're due a nice, mild winter after the last one, but who knows!

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  3. LOL...so true...I enjoyed this post Indie...Michelle

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  4. You're so healthy :-) And creating beauty at the same time instead of just sweat! Good job, gardener.

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    1. Thanks! I'd sure be a whole lot more healthy if one of my other favorite hobbies wasn't baking, but at least I get a good workout!

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  5. You make me feel better about not doing any formal exercise, but I'm afraid my gardening is too intermittant to really count -- it alternates between back-breaking labor and total rest. Winter is the biggest rest. Hope you fall is going well. -Beth

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    1. I've started rearranging my garden, combing plant sales, and planting things (some of which have been sitting around since Spring), so life is good. It's great to be outside when it's not quite as hot!

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  6. Bwahahahahahahah. Had to laugh. Your doc probably has No Idea. I don't heave rocks but I have rock envy. I have that same weed right below your rock photo so why don't I have rocks, too?

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    1. The doctor laughed when I said it, but I'm sure she has no clue how much I do. She did ask me for some gardening advice, though! I feel for you, as I had so much rock envy when I lived down South. Even now, I wish I could move some of our bigger boulders that are on the fringes of the yard to put in the garden. I need some machinery!

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  7. You made my day! I smiled and laughed while reading. It was a very good answer!

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  8. LOL--yes, I can relate! I don't haul huge rocks, but I do volunteer at two other gardens besides my own for several hours each week. My daughter was surprised recently that my biceps were so pumped! Gardening is great exercise! I don't exercise enough in the winter, though. We have occasional big snows, but we also have a snowblower. I need to work on a form of exercise I enjoy (snowshoeing, Xcountry skiing, dog walking???) during the winter months. Great post!

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    1. I'm thinking of trying some more winter activities as well, as I certainly hope we don't always have the blizzard-filled winter we had this last time! I'm thinking of maybe snowshoeing - and it would help me reach the bird feeders during those big storms!

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  9. Ha, I get asked that question all the time when visiting the many doctors I see. I always say walking, but gardening would be a good answer. I some how never relate work to exercise. My family doctor asks me for advise too. His garden is always on our garden walk and I even featured it one time.

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    1. That's pretty awesome that your doctor has a great garden, too! When I just say 'gardening' I get odd looks from doctors, so I thought I would say 'extreme gardening' this time to help convey just how much gardening I do. At least I got a laugh!

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  10. Ha, ha, love this, Indie! The last time I had a bone density test, my doctor said my bones were in great shape for someone my age and asked me what kind of exercise I did. I answered with gardening, too. I don't get the whole body workout you do with lifting rocks--that must be a pain, but on the other hand, I wouldn't mind a free supply of rocks. But there's nothing like toting wheelbarrows full of compost and mulch for building upper arm strength. And yes, I do those same flexibility/balance exercises you do--it's the only way I can work in my garden jungle!

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    1. I tried really hard to space out my plants this year, but it's so hard to not just tuck another one in the beds. And of course by the end of the summer it ends up a jungle!

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  11. without the rocks, or the snow, my gardening is not extreme enough!

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    1. Ha, I'm not sure you want such an extreme gardening experience! I love seeing how you garden so differently than me in South Africa, though!

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  12. Indie, I hope your husband doesn't read your blog. What if he sees your answer to me? The one where you mentioned needing some "machinery" to move those big boulders around. Eeeeeek, girl, do you want to find an earth mover under the Christmas tree?

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    1. Ha, he's pretty romantic, but that would be a present for himself - he actually wants an excavator more than I do! And surprisingly he likes rocks even more than I do. He doesn't care about the flowers too much, but he does love trees and rocks in the garden! Actually, there's a present idea for him... I wonder if I could get a boulder under the Christmas tree? Topped with a little bow? That's a pretty good gift, don't you think?

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    2. It would Most Certainly be a winning gift for ME but your huz might not be too impressed if you pulled all your joints out trying to get a BOULDER under the tree.

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  13. Only another gardener can understand this. Pick axe? You must have hard clay soil, too. I couldn't dig a hole without one. Moving 12 yards of compost every spring earned me a hernia, but it's worth it! Then, there's the truck load of mulch and the truck load of sand for the chicken pen. People ask where I got all the boulders surrounding my raised beds. Every one of them came out of a hole I dug to plant something. LOVE, love, love your garden house!!!

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  14. I asked my husband for a big boulder for my birthday. But he said I should make a 'normal' wishlist. These days I am also like those people in spy movies. But that is because I try to dodge all the spiders and their webs.

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  15. And it is that extreme gardening that gave me an injury and now I am still down but not totally out...looks like I need to do some training before garden season starts to avoid injury in the future.

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