The Injured Gardener
by Jarad Johnson
I’m sure every gardener has at some point pulled a muscle or strained something in the middle of a big project. I have reached that point in my gardening career, but it requires a bit of backstory. I decided in January, when everything was still normal, that my front garden needed expanding. So, I set about removing sod from the existing flower bed, expanding it from 1x10 to 4x 20. I also decided, in my infinite wisdom, to do it all in one day. Oh, and get this, it had rained the day previously, so it was mud. Yeah, I’m smart. So naturally, I was sore after, but I was experiencing pain that was worse than normal in my lower back. That’s when I started to worry because I know people with back problems and being injured is never any fun…but the biggest problem…it puts a real damper on gardening! Nevertheless, I got through it in about two days with plenty of Tylenol.
Fast forward to March. I had to come home from school early because of the viral apocalypse. I had already done a ton of things in the greenhouse; I repotted 120 plants and was constantly bending over. I particularly remember leaning into a very awkward spot to make sure a tomato plant had enough sun…and I felt a little twinge. A muscle telling me that it was not happy. No big deal. Like any good gardener, I ignored it.
I felt a tightness the next day. I figured I was just sore. And then readers…do you know what I did? The very next day, I moved all my stuff home. And I have a lot of stuff. Books, plants, refrigerator, makeup, clothes, geez, Americans love their stuff and apparently I am one. (Even though I recognize that I have quite a bit, consumerism is my pet peeve. Did I mention that I’m also a contrarian? Also…I feel like plants shouldn’t count? And books?)
Anyway, after all 20 houseplants (Yes, twenty. We all have our vices. At least I don’t drink. Well, I don’t drink excessively. Much. At least I don’t gamble) were loaded into the car, they had to be unloaded. After that, I discovered that I couldn’t bend over, and my mom informed me that I had probably sprained a muscle. At the beginning of gardening season. Insert very sad emoji here. It’s always something.
So, for the past week, I have felt like some Victorian lady in gothic novel: staring out the window forlornly, looking at my garden filling with weeds. Today, now that I am once again ambulatory, I armed myself with a walking stick and pack of seeds, and I decided to do a little work. It was a bit twingey, but it was worth it to plant my bachelor’s buttons. I had to take breaks, and I only planted 6 seeds, but I still would’ve done it, even if my back throbs right now. Hopefully by the end of next week I’ll be ready to get to work for real!
Gardeners can be cavalier. Especially in the spring when we hear the siren call of the outdoors. The chirping birds, the blossoming bulbs, the showers of petals falling from the fruit trees and we go plant mad. But even gardeners must acknowledge their physical limits. Superheroes though they might be.
Long story short: if you’re lifting or removing sod, or moving 20 houseplants, do it properly!
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!