Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Patience and Self-Control in the Springtime Garden

Ah, spring. There is so much possibility, so many plans...so much work!

When you begin from scratch in a new yard, it can be overwhelming to plan where things should go, or where to begin. Each job seems to rely on something else being completed first until you have turned in a 360 degree circle in your yard, done nothing, yet feel exhausted. This year is our third summer here and it is becoming easier to begin and finish jobs here and there, but plans for sheep and chickens and a greenhouse have me stumped at the moment. I can't decide on the best spot or most efficient system of pens and buildings. So I have focused instead on other pressing jobs and I know that the choice will become clear if I give it some time.

Some other jobs I am working on in the yard:
  • stack all remaining fire wood that was dumped by the garage all winter
  • water 120 spruce trees (almost finished!)
  • fish pond: mostly complete except for the pump and extension cord, and the fun part...plants! I have solar lights to put down the path and around the pond but fear the dog will break them off. So they may be put out for photos and the occasional BBQ, but kept safely in the garage until the playful pup has learned some manners!
  • path to the pond: I need to re-level many of my stone steps that have settled and tipped, and remove lawn grass that has encroached into my stepping stones. On the bright side, many of my ground cover plants between stones made it through the winter and I look forward to seeing how the perennials in the yard look with a full summer of growth. Most everything was planted last year and did not have time to completely flourish.
  • weedless garden: this is a big one. My dad came with their old garden tractor and roto-tilled an area for an expanded garden. We will likely have trouble with quack grass and encroaching lawn. I am working on a number of paths through the garden in hopes that the soil won't become compacted and I may never need the use of a tiller again. I am hoping I can control the grass problem with cardboard and straw mulch borders, and keep my weeding limited to the actual planted area of the garden. For a great illustration of what I am attempting with a series of mulched paths, enjoy this post by Sherri at Little Home in the Country.
  • turn one raised bed, build pea trellis out of saplings and plant peas
  • cover paths between raised beds with deep cardboard and mulch with straw to eradicate (hopefully) the grass
  • turn and amend soil in 2 remaining raised beds, prepare one for asparagus and the other for my 2 boys to share with their own choice of flowers and vegetables
  • tomato bed behind garage: I hope to get away with having my tomatoes in the same patch as I did last year. I need to dig out lawn and quack grass (do you sense a theme here?)  and empty the nearby compost into that space, roto-till and build paths for another no-till weedless system. 
I am considering fencing the garden area on the south side of our garage to keep the cats and dog out, and create a potager-type garden. As the title of the post indicates, though, there is a need for self-control when planning each spring. I can come up with unlimited projects but the fact is there are not enough hours in a day to complete them all. I must prioritize the jobs while considering time and money, of course. Right now, weed control is on the top of the list because I want to make our lives easier by doing things right the first time. If I can minimize the time I have to spend weeding it gives me time to do the other (long) list of jobs here at home. It might even free up some time to go camping and see friends;)

Spring is a time of much promise and enthusiasm after a long Canadian winter spent cooped up. We are enjoying our yard and the lambs and chickens at my parents' farm. We have a lot of planning and, yes, a  pile of work ahead of us. But I am determined to make it fun, as close to stress-free as possible, because we are building a lifestyle that we want to have last--not fizzle out with exhaustion and dashed hopes. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you face in your springtime garden plans?


  1. It's amazing all the work you do. I know it is just part of your lifestyle but for a urbanite like myself, it is amazing :-)

    1. What a nice thing to say :) I admit there are days where it feels overwhelming, but my kids are getting more self-sufficient and it feels easier these days to be productive. I take great joy and satisfaction from working outdoors. Just the other day I said I am so lucky to be able to do the things I love everyday. Thanks so much for commenting!