Encouragement (for Life as well as the Garden)

A Principle for Insurmountable Tasks

February 22

Snow and ice still cover our garden and most of the yard and borders.  This is the first time in all my years that we’ve had this kind of snow and cold for this long a time. Usually, I continue to do a little something outside all winter except on days when the ground is frozen or its too cold to work outside.

In a way I have enjoyed being confined inside because I have had time to work  without distraction on inside things like putting up this site, income taxes, doing the work required for a closeout sale we are having in our shop, and sorting through some things that have needed sorting for a long while.

Bright sun and above freezing temperatures forecast for the next 7 days will bring the “without distractions” part to an end.  Outdoor chores and tasks not finished earlier because of the snow will have to be incorporated into my list of what needs doing.

Of course, its always exciting to get outside and start again the ongoing process of “tending my garden”, but I have to admit today I felt overwhelmed.

Fortunately, I have a little principle that I use to govern my life that brings me a tremendous return on my investment and always gets seemingly insurmountable tasks  done.

For example, I have a basic plan for my day that I look at when planning my work. On the list are 4 things that I have to give at least 5 to 15 minutes to each day.  My agreement with myself is that I don’t have to do very much —- hardly anything if I don’t want to —- but I have to do something.

They are (1) exercise, (2) clean my house, (3) work on a major “not priority” task (like organizing or sorting what needs sorting), and (4) a yard task no matter how simple. The bulk of the day is devoted to the major priority task at hand necessary for making a living. (Preparing meals and a little fun in the evening fits in as well)

People ask me all the time how I manage to keep “all” those gardens and borders. There are days that I spend an hour in yard. In harvest season I spend almost 2 hours in the garden harvesting. I would like very much to have the time and energy to spend 3 hours in the yard!  But 80% to 90% of what I have to do is done in 10 to 30 minute intervals all year long.

Although I know there is much to be said about  large chunks of focused effort (say 6 hours), I have never been in a position to give the yard and garden that much time.  I find that if I focus 10 to 30 minutes most days of the year — on any garden task, I can accomplish almost anything. Being consistent is my greatest asset.

Our yard and garden make a nice overall appearance, but if you really look you can see imperfections.  (Sorta like my house — always presentable because of my 5 to 10 minutes day cleaning, but not perfect.)

The Proverb states the principle very well:  Constant dripping of water wears away stone.  Try it.  I think you’ll like it.

Garden under snow in February of 2010.


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  • I used the same principle today.

    I’ve been waiting for enough ripe tomatoes to try my hand at roasting tomatoes, but today I couldn’t wait any longer! I had just enough to barely cover the bottom of my baking dish. I tasted them & let my husband taste them before putting them in the freezer. Yummy!! I can’t wait until the others are ripe!

    I started working on a garden bed in the side garden. The soil is ok for about 3 inches then turns 2 HARD red clay. I had 2 use a pick to break it up! A pitchfork wouldn’t go in!

    I barely got 10 to 12 inches out & could only pick the bottom maybe 4 to 6 inches deep. Took that out, tried to at least break up a little in the bottom put cornshucks & leaves in and replaced the good soil & covered with leaves.

    Only got a section about 30 inches wide & 2 feet long finished, but I started!

    Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Good job Betty! Keep at it. You’ll have a great bed. Improved glad is great at hold nutrient for your crops.

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