In my younger days, I could garden basically from after breakfast until dinnertime, with a brief stop for lunch. Those times are now just a fond memory and my limit is probably about three hours now. Over the past seven months, I did spend up to three hours gardening for many days, but now that I am starting gradually to go out a bit more and resume some of my previous activities, gardening time has to be fitted in amongst other things. But I have found that if I am very organised, one hour of gardening can be incredibly productive!
I try to work to a plan of what to do in my precious hour each day. At the start of every season, I walk round my garden and make a list of all the jobs that need to be done, large and small, in the various borders, with one-offs and repeated tasks included. I actually type this up and print it out, and it is my reference for when I have an hour of gardening time. I simply choose a couple of items from my list and head outdoors with a firm intention of carrying them out! Even if I only have 10 spare minutes in a day, I can usually find a little job on my list to do. All my gardening paraphernalia is kept in a bag at the front door, so it is a matter of moments to grab everything I need. I try very hard not to get distracted by seeing other things that should be done, and try to remember to add them to my master list when I go back indoors (otherwise I will forget!). It is so very satisfying to be able to tick a few items off my list at the end of the hour.
At the moment, I am preoccupied with adding a soil-wetting agent to every border in my garden then covering the ground with a mixture of cow manure and the partly decomposed stuff from our mulching machine. This is a big job, but it is surprising how much can be achieved in an hour of focused work. And each hour adds up! Applying this to the beds will pay off (I hope!) over summer, with fewer weeds (eliminating an irksome task) and a greater retention of moisture in the hotter months. The mulch gradually breaks down to improve the soil.
When involved with these sorts of 'big' repetitive jobs such as mulching, pruning and fertilising, I sometimes use a rough map of my garden so I can tick off the areas as I do them, and thus chart my progress. Also when doing these sorts of jobs, I try to make sure I give myself a few fun little things to do just before the end of my hour as a reward, such as planting out a couple of new specimens, or carefully digging up self-seedlings of favourite plants to grow on, or dividing a clump of perennials and replanting some pieces in compost-enriched soil, potting the leftovers up for the sales table at the local garden club.
This sort of gardening is the polar opposite of 'pottering', which I love to do when I have the time, where I simply wander outside with no fixed plan at all, and meander from one part of the garden to another, seeing something that needs to be pruned, then pot up cuttings from the pruning, then spy a plant that could be moved, then try to work out where to move it to! Or I might wander around for half an hour trying to find a spot for a newly acquired plant. There is a place for both forms of gardening in our lives, I believe, depending on what else is happening at the time.
Try to find that hour for your garden each day, and prepare to be amazed at what you can get done!
18 Oct 20
Although my garden is semi-tropical in nature now, I still have some vestiges from my cottage garden days!
11 Oct 20
Consider training a shrub into a small tree.
04 Oct 20
October is iris time in Sydney gardens: the best are the tall bearded irises and Louisiana irises.
One crowded hour
27 Sep 20
Much can be achieved in regular short stints in the garden.
20 Sep 20
We may not be able to grow massed displays of tulips in our climate, but try some of these South African corms instead.