Follow these few simple strategies to make every moment in your garden count! No more feeling like you’re going in circles getting nowhere!
Do you ever get into the garden and spend hours toiling away – only to finish up the day not knowing what was actually achieved? Do you ever set out to complete a task, but find yourself wrapped up in a plethora of other tasks instead? Do you ever find yourself racing around back and forth unable to achieve your desired outcomes in the garden? Do you ever feel like you are always just one step behind with everything? Don’t worry I’ve been there!
This post is specifically about gardening – and even more specifically about Permaculture – but the lessons can actually be applied to life in general, or to any other vocation or project. I’ve seen inefficient Permaculture sites and I’ve seen efficient ones. I’ve certainly been very inefficient on my own sites in the past but have slowly but surely turned that around over time. Through observing my own behavioural patterns (my habits and I, we are a sector) and the patterns of others, I’ve been able to use design strategies to become more effective in my Permaculture-related endeavours.
Here I’ve given you 7 strategies which can really turn things around. I’d recommend that you start with one and really commit to it fully until it becomes a habit, and then move on to the next one. There’s a good chance that even committing to one of these strategies until it is a habit will be enough to supercharge your efficiency!
The 7 Strategies
1. Timing – Get a gardening calendar
This one is quite obvious. Most of us use calendars to plan and organise ourselves at work, at home or both. With your garden, a calendar is not only helpful – it is essential! Growing food is all about timing, a planting calendar will ensure that you get the right crops in at the right time instead of forgetting about it and leaving things too late. With a calendar you can plan around the seasons and do the right work when it counts – like composting and planting in Autumn and Spring, harvesting and preserving in Summer, repairs and maintenance in Winter. Check out https://permacultureprinciples.com/permaculture-calendar/ for some cool Permaculture calendars!
Set scheduled uninterrupted time for tasks. Whether it’s 30 minutes a day, or 2 hours a weekend – garden time is garden time. Know which task you are working on in that block of time, put your phone on airplane mode, let the family know – no interruptions. This is a productive, creative, meditative and liberating time for you.
I’d also highly recommend that you set aside time for idle enjoyment in your garden. Really, a time to stop and do nothing but enjoy… That doesn’t mean weeding or watering your garden… I know, I know these are relaxing tasks and you enjoy them but please, STOP! This is also not the time to think about all the incomplete tasks or things that you need to get either. Stop and appreciate this space with a still body and mind. This is where your creative endeavours and hard hours collide and integrate with natures will. The appreciation of this is in fact a yield. It’s always a different variety, but there is always something available, don’t let this yield go to waste! Remind yourself that setting “idle time” aside will help you to be more productive the rest of the time.
2. Layout – Create a Permaculture design
You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint. A Permaculture design is a holistic blueprint. It doesn’t need to be beautiful or detailed, it just needs to highlight the key features of your site (zones and sectors) and the grand vision. It will help you reach that vision, it will save you time and money, it will help your site in so many countless other ways. Here’s a free sectors checklist to help get you started.
When getting started on Permaculture design, just focus on Zone 1. Make sure your zone 1 is very small and compact and has everything you need in it. This is where most of your time will be spent, and where most of your energy will go. This is a highly productive small area. Make sure it links and flows well with your zone 0 and zone 2 edges. Double-check that you don’t have elements which belong in your zone 1 out in your further zones. Plan out and implement time-saving access, and integrate elements wherever possible into fluid self-replicating systems – for example I like to build at least one compost heap right inside my vegetable garden, on a part of the bed itself, and once its finished all I have to do is pull it over and rake it across the rest of the bed, plant again, and build the next heap on another bed.
If some of these words are all just gibberish to you, don’t worry, it’s a lot simpler than it sounds but it will take a little learning on your part. This learning will pay off. I’d recommend you start by learning about zone and sector mapping. These are the foundation of Permaculture design. Check out our Sustainable Edible Gardens online course which covers this and more.
3. Pack for the day
Have a wheelbarrow or basket always packed with everything you ever need while out in the garden. Water, snacks, hat, sun cream, must-have tools, string, paper bags or containers to collect seed or produce, etc. Don’t make it unmanageably hefty, but even if your garden is close to the house, having these things out there with you reduces distraction and keeps the flow going.
4. Get Organised
Make sure everything on your site is well organised, clean and ordered. Start putting a system in place today. Don’t wait! Once it’s ordered, always set aside time to clean up and reorganise at the end of every session. When you think of tasks to be completed that are related to order, always do them first.
This might sound unpleasant, and in the beginning, it just might be… but if you’re like me (basically a wild animal) once some order is established it becomes addictive. Not in a bad way. The reason being – it is much easier to do work and to enjoy your work when things are ordered. No more running back and forth searching for that confounded knife and twine… no more.
5. Focus your efforts
If you find that things are never quite where you want them to be, and that you are always just one or two steps behind everything, it is definitely time to make cutbacks to narrow your focus toward some achievable goals. Cutbacks that you might consider: Make your zone 1 even smaller (this is my personal favourite); set up auto-irrigation; buy or trade for seedlings or direct sow (instead of raising your own seedlings); stop making compost and start sheet mulching instead. There are many other cutbacks that you might make which are site-specific: Try to think of where you spend large amounts of your time and see how you can make cutbacks to reduce that time spent.
6. Take a full day
A full day in the garden can often be more productive than multiple short days. Some things need steady maintenance, but the impact of a real full day’s work can often last weeks.
7. Invite Community
Try to find someone to help you in the garden. You could offer to help someone else out in their garden and hope that they return the favour – or you could just be upfront about it and ask for some help. If the idea of growing community around your garden appeals to you, you could always start up a Permablitz group. Check out what they are doing in Melbourne with Permablitz – you can do the same!
Well, there you have it. The 7 Strategies that I think will make the most difference to your site and your efficiency right away! I won’t use any more of your time with a long-winded conclusion – better to get out there and be productive right!?
Here’s the seven strategies again:
- Timing – get a gardening calendar
- Layout – create a Permaculture design
- Pack for the day
- Get organised
- Focus your efforts
- Take a full day
- Invite community
Let us know which is your favourite strategy, and share this page to those who you think will appreciate and benefit from it!