The idea for this post came about after an afternoon run with my friend, Nicole. By the time I get to Thursday, the day of our weekly run, I am usually haggard from the stress of the week. To say this has been the toughest year of my teaching career would be an understatement. I find our weekly runs to be the comfort and outlet I need to vent my frustrations. Nicole is a very supportive friend.
Because the thing is, I am a ridiculous overachiever. I hold myself to an incredibly high standard of perfection and never really feel like I’m doing enough. But I guess teaching is kind of like that. You feel the urgency everyday. I’m teaching these kids to read and write and other skills they need to interact as members of society. Every minute is an opportunity for learning and squeezing in just one more lesson. In the public eye, the success and failure of a child’s education usually rests on the shoulders of the teacher, whether or not he or she is doing a good enough job. It’s a lot of pressure. And that’s in addition to the pressure I put on myself.
So, wait. Why am I going off about the stresses and woes of public education on this gardening blog? I know you’re probably thinking, where is she going with this? Well, the thing is, it’s not just a work thing anymore. I’ve noticed this overachiever, not-doing-enough attitude slowly creeping into the realm of my life that has been making me feel the most inspired – my garden. I’m becoming a garden overachiever and it’s time to stop. My garden is my sanctuary, where the stressful world melts away and all I care about is getting my hands in the dirt. It’s visceral and slow. And just like in the classroom, there are a lot of variables that affect the outcome and success of a little seedling besides just what the gardener or teacher is doing.
But lately, there is so much I want to do, so much potential I can see, I just can’t stop! I have a grand vision for my little urban farm. I see how productive each inch of bare space could be! If I could only plant a few more seeds or buy a few more starts or dig out a few more patches of sod. I follow amazing blogs of foodies and gardeners doing such wonderful things that inspire me and get me itching to keep up. There are so many lectures to attend, so many classes in which to enroll, so many informative books to read, so many recipes to make! I want to do everything, and photograph it, and blog about it, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day! And then that sanctuary slowly starts becoming a stress, a job that’s never done.
And how quickly we forget what we have already done! Does is matter that I just added 60 square feet of raised beds to my garden this season? No way! Those are already working. It’s time to move on! What else can be done?
It was after having this almost frantic conversation with Nicole, mid-run, when she stopped me and said, “I think you should make a list of the things you’re NOT going to do in your garden this season.” Of course, as I was listening to this, I assumed she was going to say that I should make a list of the things I want to do and then start to work on those things a little at a time. But, no, her advice was the opposite. Something I am totally not inclined to do â€“ deciding what things I’m going to take off my plate and save for another time when my budget and stamina allow. So, here it goes:
1. I’m not going to plant another apple tree in my front yard. Besides, I’m going to prune the existing one, which means it probably won’t produce much fruit this year. Next year will be the perfect time and my restructured, ready-to-fruit old apple tree will have a pollination buddy when it needs it.
2. Along the same lines,
I probably won’t I’m not going to plant the multi-variety apple tree in the container I’d like to repurpose on the back patio. Raintree will be there next season, ready to help me with all my fruit tree needs.
3. I know, again with the fruit tree thing. I won’t take any of City Fruit’s tree pruning or container growing classes this season. I’ll be even more prepared to receive the information next year.
4. I’m not going to plant the amazing vertical pallet garden I want to create with succulents (look at these colors and varieties!!!). My brother-in-law gave me a lovely pallet for my birthday so I could do this project, but I just don’t think I’ll have the funds to make it happen this year. Gardening can be an expensive habit!
5. I’m not going to go to the farm dinner/fund raiser, Food Lust,Â at The Field at Willie’s Greens, even though I’ve been pining over the email flyer since April. Financially, I just can’t make it happen right now, but I can put the idea in my pocket for next year.
6. I’m not going to take this Introduction to Permaculture course at Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead on Orcas that I really want to because I’m still in school on May 20th (sad face). You better believe I’ll be checking back though to see if they add this course again to their schedule another time. And just because I can’t sign up for the course, doesn’t mean I can’t go out for a visit. After all, summer is just around the corner.
So that is what I’m doing. I have plenty to keep me busy and learning (and well fed) this season, so these will be the things I save for later. After all, if I fill up all the space I have and “finish” this project I’ve started, what fun would that be? After all, gardening is an amazing journey every year, not a destination.