Monday, September 26, 2011

Gardening in 15 minutes

Time, it is a weird phenominum. We all get paid exactly the same number of hours per day yet some of us have all the time in the world, and others none. Even on an individual bases when comparing one day to the next. I have had days when I have done so much with ease and others when I look back at the day and think “where did the time go?”

Due to some coaching on the topic I have learnt the management of time is indeed a skill. One that I am still learning to master. With the desire and challenge of growing my own food a skill that I feel I must improve upon.

Melanie has also been working on the art of time management and I have recently been inspired by her latest technique. She has been following the Fly lady, who seems to be a master of time and organisation in relation to house keeping, and I  thought I would try and apply her thinking to the garden.

Do you ever find yourself looking at the garden and thinking ”there is just too much to do?”, or considering a task like weeding and thinking “I just can’t finish that in the time I have available.”, and as a result don’t start. I do. Well the Fly lady claims this is a form of perfectionism taught to us through statements like “If you can’t finish it, don’t start it” or “If you can’t do it properly, don’t do it at all.” I never realised it before but I now know this is a cause of constant procrastination for me.

So how do you over come it? The answer lies in an ordinary kitchen timer. Instead of basing the end of a task on its completion, base it on a fixed period of time. Finding 15 minutes here and there to do a bit of weeding, sowing or potting out I think is possible even for the most busiest schedule. I also think I am going to be amazed at what can be achieved in such a seemingly small amount of time.


Saturday I put this new technique to the test and did 15 minutes of weeding the path. As you can see I got allot done but not complete. And that is perfectly OK as next weeks 15 of weeding will bring it that bit closer.

What could you do (not complete) in 15 minutes?


  1. These days I do a lot of my gardening in little batches. I rarely have a whole day to spend in it. A lunar planting calendar keeps me finding a little bit of time every week to keep up sequential planting. Lately I've been trying to do an hour of mowing before work in the morning, and the mulch mountain is growing nicely. All the beds are mulched up ready for summer and there is a good new compost pile. I can do it because, like a good permaculturist :) the work is in the design and establishment. But the nice thing is that you can do a lot of gardening in stolen moments once the system is set up.

  2. I reckon you should try to make that 15 minutes a day! ;)

    With daylight saving starting this weekend there will be more light each night to get out and do that 15 mins.

    Making a list of small jobs is helpful too, then there is no excuse!

    Gardening to provide 80% of your food is going to require a lot more work than 15 minutes a week!!!

  3. I think that's a good way to go. I have a number of ongoing jobs that need to be done regularly. Most are each week but some are less frequent.

    I find that if I allocate, say, half an hour or an hour to each job, I can get a bit of each done each time, rather than spending a lot of time on one job and not getting anything of the others done.

    Works for me.

  4. Linda Woodrow I too intend to look at and consider following a moon calender as I believe it would provide me with a good schedule framework to work within. I feel I have finally got my garden set up and am now moving into maintenance mode. An hour of mowing a day? You must have a lot of grass.

    Scarecrow didn't mean to give the impression that I only spend 15 mins per week. I meant for tasks that I am neglecting I think this 15 min trick may help me get them done. And it maybe multiple 15 mins spread out over a week. I too am really looking forward to day light saving. I love pottering around in the garden at dusk with my shoes off.

    Bev sounds like you are already using the technique with success.

  5. I have just put the October Moon Gardening guide up on my blog - including days off!

  6. I find I work like you Jason, if I cannot get it done than I wont start. Take house cleaning for example, I will not clean my house until I know I will have enough time to vacuum, mop and tidy the whole house, coincidentally my house only gets cleaned at most once a week. I do like the concept of doing a bit each day but then I think that if I only did a bit each day than my house is never truly clean. I don't know I guess it is something to do with the feeling you get when a task is complete and the knowledge that you have a few days off from having to redo the task as you have completed it in one hit. I think this great idea of doing things in increments can only be applied to certain things, take cleaning your car for instance, you would not just wash one door panel one day and another the next as the door panel you cleaned would be dirty by the time you got to the next one. Dont get me wrong I do love the idea and I am going to try and train my mind to work this way but first I will have to work out what task would best fit this concept. Would you agree?

  7. Linda can't find your Moon Gardening guide?

    amydingley I think the decision of when and when not to use this technique comes down to one simple question... Should have I done something about this task by now? If the answer is Yes... get out the timer. For example regarding your example of car cleaning, because car cleaning takes an hour or two I rarely clean my car (twice a year tops). If I did just 15 mins a month it might end up being clean more often. It is a new way of thinking for me too.

  8. I am not good at that time thing, I always put it off. What I do with the garden is go out with a bucket and say, I will weed until this bucket is full and then that will do for today. I usually end up doing 3 or 4 bucket fulls. The other thing I try to do, out the front especially, is if I see a weed, I pull it out.
    Perfectionism has never been a problem for me, I'm more of a, "yep, it'll do" kinda person
    I hope the time thing works for you. Good luck.

  9. dirtandflowers thanks. So far it is seems to be working. I ended up completing the path weeding is 3 separate 15min batches.

  10. I love gardening. The question for me is what to spend my time on. The answer is always the answer to the question 'What is the most urgent thing that needs doing?' Usually my gardening ends when I am either exhausted, sore or the weather is too uncomfortable.


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