Natural Gardening Saves a Recently Disabled Husband!

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“Know Your Farmer”



Submitted by Darlene Rieber, Palm Springs, California

Dear No Spray,

I would like to tell you my story for your “Know your Farmer” section.

My husband is disabled. He has had multiple surgeries throughout our 37 year marriage. His most recent ones were on his spine. He has had five vertebrae IMG_3660fused in his neck and two in his lower back. He has three additional vertebrae damaged in the center of his spine.

My husband is also ADHD. I know that this term is overused but he is a true ADHD person. With all of the damage to his spine he CANNOT sit and do nothing, no matter how much pain he is in. If he has a good day, he walks five-plus miles and then he has two to three bad days.

We live in a third story condo in the Palm Springs area of Southern California. Our daughter helped him start a raised-bed garden on our patio. His raised beds are four feet high so that he doesn’t have to bend to tend them. He has grown six varieties of lettuce, three varieties of tomatoes, spinach, collard greens, sugar snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, kohlrabi, carrots, kale, mint, basil and cilantro.

I do not like to garden but I love to eat organic fruits and vegetables. I am also an extremely cheap person so I do not like to spend money on organic food that IMG_3651I am not sure is true organic. Therefore, having my own personal organic farmer is a true blessing. It is very difficult at times for my husband to stay all organic, especially when he watches an entire crop of spinach devoured by worms.

When the worms attacked, he was outside, after dark, with a headlamp flashlight, looking for worms on the spinach. He requested help from No Spray and they gave him great advice on planting herbs around the plants being attacked. In addition, Jesse from No Spray told him to leave the spinach for the worms and they did not attack my husband’s crop of Romaine lettuce. He did lose most of the spinach crop but managed to contain the worm damage to the spinach rather than letting them attack the other plants.

IMG_3669Another item of great advice came from Laura at No Spray. She told him to plant his seeds in stages so that there is always a crop available to eat. As one crop is done the next one is ready for eating. He began using this advice in his three-part lettuce bed but has adapted this to planting seeds around plants that are being consumed so that when one crop has completed its cycle the next is just about ready.

My husband’s largest challenge in gardening is with the weather here in the Southern California desert. He has a decent growing cycle of about nine to ten months. No Spray came through again. They told him to put cardboard about two inches under the soil during the summer months and water it twice a day. In this way, it protects his soil from being dried out and destroyed during the brutal desert summer.

Organic gardening gives my husband something to do, creates a challenge for him to overcome the obstacles of gardening without pesticides, gives him a sense of pride when our friends visit and “ooh” and “ahh” at how impressive his garden looks, and a sense of accomplishment when I go out to the garden and cut lettuce and tomatoes for my lunch for work or for our dinner.

Organic gardening has saved my disabled husband’s sanity and helped us both to eat more healthily.

 That’s my farmer’s story. Thanks No Spray for being there to help him stay organic!!


“No Spray”


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