10 Things I learned last summer and should try to remember for this year…

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.

I thought nothing would grow here. It did take a long time for anything to sprout, but once it did, this was one of my favourite spots. 

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.

Hard work is fun, see??

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.



7 thoughts on “10 Things I learned last summer and should try to remember for this year…

    1. Yes, absolutely! The method is called “sheet mulching”. It’s one of the easiest and best ways to begin building your soil. Once you determine where and what size you want your new garden bed to be, you layer the cardboard over the entire area (best to use cardboard without coloured ink), overlapping your bits of cardboard so you can’t see the grass at all. If you have an edging tool, this can help define the bed and give you a spot to tuck the cardboard into around the outside. The bits of edging can be thrown right on top of the bed, before you start with the cardboard. After the cardboard is all in place, thoroughly soak it with water and cover with 6-12 inches – more is better here- of organic matter (a mixture of compost and soil is great). The grass and the cardboard break down creating lots of fantastic organic matter and a great growing medium for your plants. You can plant into it right away, but it’s usually best to wait a few months while the cardboard breaks down. We live in Zone 6 and have done this in March and it was perfect for June planting. Thanks for asking the question. I hope this answer helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Love this post! Especially enjoyed #3 because I’ve found that picking the right music can make a task lots more fun. And taking time to really look/enjoy the beauty is sometimes hard to do, but it’s really, really important!

    Liked by 1 person

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