a woman picking okra in a power chair

Gardening and Harvesting Adjustments for MG

Last updated: August 2023

In case you missed it, check out part 1 of this article, "Gardening Safely When You Have MG."

In the days since COVID began, gardening has been on the rise again. My goal to show that just because you have myasthenia gravis (MG), it doesn’t mean you can’t perform certain tasks such as gardening.

Finding ways to compensate

I have MG, among other ailments, and I am in a power chair. But, I continue doing what I can and love to do ... I just have to compensate for my problems.

When I need to water and harvest my produce the same day, I prefer to harvest first, either early or late in the day. To save time, once I harvest a section, I can water it while I harvest the next.

I do try not to harvest too much at a time, because I can only do so much and I need time to rest. Though many times, I just push through until I get it done. The garden waits for no one!

Gardening while in a power chair

Since I’m in a power chair, some things are quite difficult for me to do. Some plants such as okra are about 12 feet tall, so I can’t reach the upper pods! In those cases, I use a reacher and grab the stalk. I gently bend it down, then cut the pod. Once all pods that are ready are harvested, I let it go and it springs back in place.

Plants such as green beans, are low to the ground. We’ve always grown them in the ground, but this year, we plan to plant them in straw bales. This will prevent us from having to bend over so low and so much.

That will make the harvest go faster and also cause us less pain and discomfort. If not the bales, a raised bed will help.

Managing the workload

Last summer, we had the largest garden we’ve had in many years. Because my husband has been ill for about 2 and a half years, it put a lot of the work on me. This was a game changer.

Not only did I have to do pretty much all the watering, but most of the weeding, harvesting, cleaning, and preparing the canning process myself.

I had him save his energy to help with the actual canning, since I cannot see or reach into the pressure canner. I’m not sure what I would need to do if he couldn’t help with that part. I’d probably need to purchase a countertop gas stove and mount it on a lower frame so I can safely work with the canner on my level.

Flexibility in the plans

If I’m not too tired, I try to wash the vegetables I know I will have time to process that day. If I can’t process them that day, I bag them and depending on what it is, and will refrigerate them.

Then, I will clean and process the next day. If I try to do all the steps in one day, I get too tired, so I usually split it up into at least 2 days.

You know when you make plans, many times you have to revise those plans due to unforeseen circumstances. It’s the same with gardening. However, I try to harvest one day and process the next, then hopefully rest the next.

Harvesting usually occurs for us about every 3 to 4 days, except for fast-growing plants. Gardening is so rewarding, both physically and emotionally!

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