It's Still Just Dirt

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Penny Esseltine - It's Still Just Dirt

It’s important to warm up and stretch your muscles before and after gardening to help prevent injuries.

Occupational therapist Brenda Fields, speaking to garden enthusiasts at the annual general meeting of District 10 of the Ontario Horticultural Association says some simple preparation can help you garden longer and garden stronger.

“Gardening takes us through a wide range of different movements,” Brenda says, “like squatting, bending, gripping and lifting.”

This can result in common gardening injuries like back strain and wrist or knee pain.

When you bend over to do a job like lifting a bag of garden soil you add 100 per cent more load to your back. Brenda says if you twist as well when you bend over and lift you can increase the load by as much as 600 per cent.

“The maximum load an average-sized woman should lift is 28 pounds, and for a man it’s 68 pounds.”

A 30 litre bag of triple mix weighs in at 28 pounds. There’s a lot of lifting to be done and most gardeners will move a number of bags at one time. Brenda suggests we pace ourselves.

“Vary the jobs that you are doing so that you’re using different muscle groups. Do the heavy jobs when you have the most energy.”

“Practice safe lifting techniques,” Brenda says. “Your feet should be shoulder width apart and lift with your legs. Your nose and toes should stay in a straight line. Keep your back straight, and your shoulders back.”

Some additional strategies for safer gardening include:

* Get help if you have an awkward or large load.

* Use a wheel barrow.

* Use tools with handles that have a comfortable grip. The more you squeeze something small the more your muscles will fatigue.

* Wear knee pads or use a kneeling stool.

* Keep tools sharp. It takes less energy to dig or cut with sharper tools.

Before you start to garden warm up by walking briskly around the yard or around the block. Get the blood flowing. Perform gentle stretches and hold each for five to 10 seconds. You can find an outline of good before-you-garden stretches from the Ontario Physiotherapy Association online at

9th Annual Garden Auction

The Horticultural Society’s Annual Garden Auction is set for Tuesday, May 19 in the Lions Auditorium at the Tillsonburg Community Centre. In addition to decorative pots of colourful annuals, masses of amazing perennials, and a variety of largely native shrubs and trees, the auction features a miscellany of bags of gardening soils, seeds and fertilizers, and an enticing selection of garden art and artifacts.

Also for sale in the auditorium you’ll find yummy edibles, gardening books and magazines, herbs and vegetable plants and lots of home-grown and divided perennials. Each year the garden auction raises thousands of dollars that the society uses to support members’ gardening efforts in public spaces.

Keep Tillsonburg Beautiful Day

On Saturday, May 9 environmentalists of all ages will gather to take part in Keep Tillsonburg Beautiful Day. After meeting at the Annandale Baseball Diamonds (Concession Street east of Maple Lane) at 9:00 a.m. volunteers will plant about 1,000 seedlings, the beginnings of a forest for the future in an area separating the baseball diamonds from the railway track to the North. Be sure to bring a shovel. As well as planting trees, volunteers will get to work cleaning up local parks, trails and natural areas

Horticultural Society Meeting

Lastly, the Tillsonburg Horticultural Society meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month in the Senior Centre Auditorium at the Tillsonburg Community Centre. For additional information check us out at



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