The most common questions I am asked are: “are you a professional gardener?” “doesn’t gardening take a lot of time?” “this looks like so much work, do you have time for anything else?” So, how do I balance my time between gardening and the rest of life? How do I have a regular job and have time to garden?
To balance time between gardening and the rest of my life I follow some basic principles:
- Dedicate specific time to gardening
- Follow a to-do list
- Start with small projects and work your way up
- Make gardening social
- Practice patience
I’ll also add that social media is a curated experience, I feature gardening and garden-inspired content. I may omit other aspects of my life from social media such as my regular job but that doesn’t mean that those other parts of life don’t exist.
Dedicate Specific Time
I have a general rule of thumb: I only get my hands dirty on the weekend. What I mean is that I don’t do any digging or intensive labor unless it is Saturday or Sunday. Meanwhile, Monday through Friday I spend harvesting, watering and enjoying the garden. The reason for the general rule is that I found that I would start a task on a Tuesday evening after work in my “nice” work clothes and then would end up hours later with dirt all over me and a half dozen unfinished tasks. If I see something that requires more than just a snip of the scissors, I add it to my weekend to-do list (which brings me to my next principle).
As I previously mentioned, I will create a to-do list throughout the week for the weekend. I use an app by Moleskine called “Actions.” I love this app SO MUCH! With “Actions” you can create different color coded lists, select a completion date, set reminders, and swipe the item away as you complete the task. “Actions” also has a logbook so you can see what tasks you have completed. I’ve set up a few different categories including:
A to-do list helps to organize and put to paper all the things I want to get done in the garden. I highly recommend the “Actions” app if you are looking for an easy way to organize and complete your to-do list.
[Insert cliché] — ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY. I didn’t just wake up one morning and have a crazy out of control garden. I started small. After graduating from college I lived in a small apartment with my two best friends. We had a small balcony where I had a Meyer lemon tree, hydrangea bush, and a few zinnias. A few years later, Nick and I started our current garden with a small planter box he built on the grass and started with some cut flowers. We then worked on the front yard, then the side yard, and then the backyard. It has taken Nick, Justin and myself about 2 years to get to where the backyard garden is now. We started small and worked our way up to the size of the garden we have now. I recommend to anyone remotely interested in gardening to start with a few small containers or a small raised bed.
Make it Social
I do most of the work in the garden on my own. And, since I do most of my garden work on the weekend, it can limit my ability to participate in social activities on the weekend. Instead, I try to find ways to bring friends and family into the garden. We’ll have backyard barbecues, garden happy hours, produce pick ups, garden parties and other fun social events in the garden. I’m writing this during COVID-19 stay at home orders so I’ve had to find other ways to stay social with friends and family. I’ve put together floral arrangements, produce bags, and plants for contactless pick up. Sharing the garden with others right now has been a fun, creative way to stay connected and show my love for others during this time.
I’ll say it again, Rome was not built in a day. So, what if I didn’t check off a few items on my garden to-do list this weekend? Who cares! I’ll move it to next weekend. The garden to-do list will never be complete and there will always be new tasks to add – that’s the beauty of gardening. You’ll never be “done” with gardening. What I love most about gardening is the continual evolution of the garden.