The definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. In 2016, I learned at least 10 things that I need to remember for this coming year. If the past is any indication, I’ll likely be posting this exact list in a year, but with the addition of 10 more things. I guess I can’t use the excuse that I’m just a slow learner.
1. Do it right the first time. Here’s one example: we skipped the very important step of laying cardboard over the grass before adding the soil last year and had a nightmare’s worth of weeds. All. Summer. Long. The day after we came home from vacation, I went out to do some weeding and this is what it looked like:
Taking the extra time to lay down the cardboard would have saved us countless (countless because if I stopped to count them, I’d cry) hours.
If you do forget this step, make sure you plan ahead and do this:
2. Grow some big plants. They’ll get big enough to drown out some of the weeds. And the weeds that do grow, you won’t find until October when you’re cleaning the garden up for winter. If the mistake you’ve made in item one above isn’t weed related, thing two here won’t likely help you.
3. Create a few really good playlists. You’re going to underestimate the amount of time you’ll spend in the garden, but having good music to listen to will make you forget you had other plans for your summer.
4. Figure out your best working time. For me, it’s first thing in the morning or after supper. Maybe this doesn’t seem to be an important lesson, but when I didn’t make a point of going outside first thing, I’d end up in the garden during the hottest part of the day and resenting my to do list. While the noonday sun makes my spirit melt, it could be your favourite time of day to work.
5. I could probably buy LESS seeds. I struggle to even write this because I want to buy all the seeds, but it’s something I need to learn. I get very distracted by all the varieties and want to try everything, but it’s getting a little out of hand. I grew 25 different types of tomatoes last year. And 12 different types of beans. And a rainbow of carrots. And peppers. And zucchini (oh my – the zucchini!!). Maybe I should just pick one or two veggies per year to be a little crazy about? Don’t tell Chad I just wrote this paragraph.
6. Be patient. Patience. Not a virtue I possess when it comes to gardening. I put the seeds into the ground and wait and wait. And wait. Within days, I’m completely convinced that ‘NOTHING will ever grow!’ and ‘I’ve wasted all my time!’ and ‘why do I bother?’. I’m a delight to live with. But the flip side of being impatient and convinced that I’ve failed, is the sheer joy and amazement I feel when the little itty bitty baby plants start to emerge.
7. Ignore the naysayers. In our case, the neighbours. I can’t count the number of times our neighbour has told us we don’t get extra points for hard work. Speaking of hard work:
8. Don’t be afraid of hard work. It feels good. For us (I can speak for Chad here), nothing is more satisfying than sitting down at the end of the day and being physically tired from working hard all day. You know what is exhausting? Being told that you can buy eggs and tomatoes from the grocery store.
9. Get the kids involved. Our girls were a little “on the fence” about the whole homesteading thing, but they’re interested and they’re learning. Our oldest daughter
happily helps out with mulching and weeding and our youngest enjoys planting and harvesting. I love that they know where their food comes from and more importantly, that food grown at home ALWAYS tastes better.
10. Enjoy your garden. You can’t work all the time. Wander around. Bring your coffee outside in the morning. Read a book in the garden. If you’re creating a beautiful space, take time to revel in it. Summer flies by, be sure to relax and try to slow it down a little.