My life is flexible. My children are grown, and I have no partner. I have an amazing part-time writing job, grow and sell garden starts, voluntarily created and maintain the Taos Seed Exchange and take pictures for our animal shelter. I have no set schedule. My time is mine, and I can pretty much do what I want when I want. Yet, I do most of my gardening on Sunday! I find myself trying to cram all kinds of things in before Monday, as though I wouldn’t be here for the next several days.
I admit to a little watering during the week, especially of new transplants and freshly seeded rows, and I constantly rearrange beds and plants in my head. I read about gardening and look at pictures, information that gets put into use on Sunday. So for me, weekday gardening is mostly about dreaming, and weekend gardening is about doing.
My approach to my garden: puttering
But my ‘doing’ is puttering. I don’t make a plan that I stick to. I am spontaneous, suddenly doing what I had planned to do later in the month, or deciding last minute to plant lilies out front instead of out back, and of course right as the sun is going down. Last week, I decided to plant a dozen broccoli plants in the new herb bed. Now I have to find a place for the herbs! I also decided to thin out the creeping thyme from one flagstone walkway, building and filling in a new one.
None of these things were planned. I always know what needs doing, but I rarely adhere to the order of importance, if there is one at all.
My gardening style is mine. It’s organic, very much going with the flow of the day. The alternative for most people, including many of my friends, is to wisely use their two days off.
Another gardening approach: getting organized
My friends and other fellow gardeners tell me the trick to weekend gardening is being organized. They, too, dream and plan during the week, but when Saturday morning comes, they get right to work. They visit the hardware store and garden centers early in the morning, then stay home and dig in the dirt for a couple of days. Some have families and other obligations, so they must carve out time for them as well as all their garden chores. This is a juggling act, especially during planting season!
To get organized with your dreaming during the week, you might want to talk to your County Extension to find out what needs to be done for your region. Maybe their website or even some gardening websites have a calendar of what to plant, prune, fertilize or harvest during the growing season. Knowing what to do and when is important to be organized and save time.
The right tools makes the job go faster
Out in the yard, walk around early on Saturday morning, and make a list of what you need to do and what you want to do. Big difference between the two, I’m sure. Write down what supplies you need, then head to the hardware store, nursery or both. If you don’t need anything, then just get to work.
The right tools always make a job go faster. How many times have you been in the middle of a big project, and then you needed different size hose clamps, more compost or a different hand tool. Be prepared!
A big way to save time gardening is to use plants that are low maintenance. Native plants are acclimated to your conditions, so they need little care once established. Some perennials bloom all summer, and some annuals do not need dead-heading. Consult your nursery for the best varieties for gardeners with little time.
Gardening and the small stuff
Get weeds under control early in the year when they are small. Use a small hand cultivator or a scuffle hoe to cut the roots just below the soil surface. When the beds are weed-free, mulch them heavily to keep sunlight from getting to newly sprouting weeds. Mulch also keeps in moisture.
Speaking of moisture, don’t spend your weekend watering. Install a drip irrigation system or soaker hoses on a timer. You can even put drip irrigation on a series of containers. Consider self-watering containers, which have small reservoirs in the bottom which release water to the soil as its needed. That’s a time saver!
Creating a yard
It’s not just about being organized on Saturday and Sunday. It’s about creating a yard that you don’t need to hover over during all your free time. Spend some time during the winter to make a plan and save even more time during growing season.
So what kind of weekend gardener are you – do you putter or get organized?