Seed Swaps

Full-Time Work, Gardening and Having a Life. Can These Be Compatible?

19 Apr 2012
Cloudy 25°C / 77°F

Hi alll,

So a few of you have probably noticed that I have pretty much been absent from myfolia lately. If none of you noticed I’m a little peeved, ha ha ha .

This is because gardening has taken a major back seat for the last six months or so. I had a cousin from the UK come and stay with us for a couple of months, and he required most of my attention, (although admittedly it was a scorching summer and even the nights were hot, so besides watering and shade cloth-ing there was little else to do outside) then when he left I found full time work, previously I was working 1-3 days a week and spent around ten hours a week gardening.

Now my garden feels my neglect. Most things have thrived or survived, with a few exceptions, such as my pig face which never got treatment for it’s massive scale problem because it was literally never under thirty degrees celsius, to apply the oil treatment. One of my blueberries also suffered bad sunburn but luckily it’s fruit were already ripe and most had been picked (and were delicious). The water wise garden has lived up to it’s name, it has grown so much I need to transplant a few things before they get strangled.

Now it is autumn, the best growing season in my neck of the woods and I have. next to no vegetables in the ground. By the time I finish work, I’m either too

buggered to even want to change into gardening clothes, or I’m too busy making dinner, doing laundry, seeing my friends, or making a hundred other excuses. My question to you guys is how do you manage your garden when you work full time, (I also do night school one night a week and attend another class on Saturday morning). One of my days off is taken up by food shopping, cleaning and class. So that potentially leaves me one day where I can get out there, however my parents like to see me every so often as well, and well sometimes I’m just to damn hung over :p oh yeah we are also undertaking major house renovations!

I need motivaton, ideas and strategies people! My dream of a lovely and edible garden is not dead. But now My time is limited and precious, and it seems a lot easier to crawl out of bed to the farmers market, than to crawl out to weed the veggie patch. How do you guys manage all your responsibilities and still find time to plant and maintain a lovely garden? Do you set aside a day a week/month and do it then, rain hail or shine? Do you have your garden lit up with flood lights and garden by the moon? Do you spend a certain amount of time there every day after work, before dinner? Do you have help to get the menial stuff done, do you pay somebody to weed for you? I need to know what works for you so I can figure out something that will work for me! :)

I need to also mention that my partner works away, so often I’m alone, and when he is here, I can sometimes get half of a big project done with his help and brawn, then he’s gone again!

I realize I must sound like a total whinger, lol, but I’m struggling! Please tell me what you do so that I may give you the most sincere form of flattery and imitate you. Fake it til you make it!



It sounds like you have a LOT on your plate!

I also work full time with a 45 min commute each way, so I can understand competing priorities. These are some of the things I do:

I “spring” clean in winter when I can’t garden.

Once spring comes, I plan around the weather. For instance, this week I have completely let the laundry go and I will do it Friday night and Saturday morning when its raining here. I have also lowered my expectations of myself about how clean my house “should” be in general.

I plan 2 nights during the week of quick dinners (sandwiches, soup, whatever) which is less prep time, less cook time and less dishes which is more time in the garden. My husband isn’t thrilled but makes due.

I haven’t watched tv in a few weeks. In fact, I haven’t sat down except to eat until it was time for bed.

I break big jobs into little jobs. Some of the plants in my 15 ft flower bed need to be thinned out and transplanted. I will be working it in a few feet at a time, not all at the same time or even on the same day. Sometimes I can talk myself into starting a little job if I’m feeling tired where I would have never started if my goal had been the who 15 ft.

With all of your competing priorities, I would be taking shortcuts whenever possible – buying plants, paying someone to help, etc. Good luck with finding a way to getting all done!

Posted on 20 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

Thanks indianagirl that’s exactly the kind of stuff I need to hear. I wonder if you stand up all day at work like me? ’haven’t sat down except to eat’ …. My god woman, my feet are screaming at me by the time I get home from being wedged into semi high heels and forced to stand, and that sounds like torture! Perhaps in a few months time my feet will be better adjusted to the shock??? I hope so. I need fitter feet! :p . . . . On that note I wonder how many gardening jobs I can do sitting down lol. I think I might buy a small yoga mat and try that out in the garden! It would certainly make weeding more pleasant to have a clean soft place to sit while I did it. . . Do what I can reach from the mat and move it every day. Lol. I’m only joking, but it might work too! I think I’ll also look into getting some help, but I’m dubious as to the quality of person I could get for the kind money I could afford. They need to know their weeds from their lemon grass lol. (actually that was my partner who did that, lucky I saw it on top of the weed pile and was able to salvage it) I’ll put it out there for the law of attraction that a semi retired or similar old knowledgable gardener will somehow end up wanting to help me for a small sum of cash! Or preferably a share of the veggies they helped grow, lol. :)
Thanks again, all good advice Indianagirl.

Posted on 20 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

Actually, I think your idea of the yoga mat is a good one … but you don’t need to buy anything special – I just stuck an old bed pillow in a plastic trash bag, and sit on that!

Posted on 20 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

Gardening can seem tremendously overwhelming at times; I work 40 hrs a week and I also attend school full time (4 classes) so I can understand where you’re coming from.
Drip irrigation has been an unbelievable asset to us this spring. We got a diy kit and installed it last weekend. I don’t know how readily you can find those in your area but we tackled the time consumption aspect of gardening by first determining what took the longest, then looked for ways to reduce that first, which, in our case, was watering. Soaker hoses are another option, just check the label to make sure there’s no mercury in them (true story).
I have found that checking on the garden two times per day, once in the morning and once in the evening has helped keep any minor problems from becoming tremendous. I spend 10-15 mins in the morning and 10-15 mins in the evening, just looking at everything & watering what needs it – not doing any moving or transplanting, nada. I have been told that you need to take the time to truly enjoy your garden, to look at what’s there and not focus on what needs to be done – there’s satisfaction in relishing everything you HAVE done and not what needs to be done :)
Funny you should mention the yoga mat, while I have dreams of attending yoga classes (one day…), my mat is used primarily for ripping up dollar weed out of my veggie bed :) hah!

Posted on 20 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

I noticed LOL! When I saw you had posted a journal entry, the first thing I said to Jas was, “Massivemellons! I haven’t seen her around in a while.”. It’s true!
Good to have you back! ;)
I am not sure what kind of advice to give on gardening time, as Jas and I work at home so it’s easy for us. What we usually do is get all the harder work out of the way first. Things like amending soil, initial weeding, planting and all that. Then for the rest of the season it’s just a little bit of weeding and pruning here and there. It’ll be a busy few weeks at first, but it’s worth it in the long run, I think. ;)
I hope things get situated for you, I enjoy reading your journals and I look forward to seeing more! =D

Posted on 20 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

It’s good to see you!

It’s a challenge to work full time, garden, and do all the other stuff we need to do. As it stands, I do what IndianaGal said, and plan around the weather. It’s sunny this weekend, so I’ll be gardening. And when my body says enough, then I’ll come in and edit the novel that has a deadline to it. And then feed the family. Laundry, cleaning etc, all take backseat these days.

In the end, you have to make time for what nourishes you. What refills the well. I gave up on keeping a spotless house about the time my second child entered the world. Life is just too short. So writing, gardening are what I focus on with my free time … and work, well, it pays the mortgage.

Posted on 21 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

I have been wondering what you’ve been up to!
If you are keen on my 2 cents worth…….
When I am pressed for time, I do what Gardenerd does, just spend 10-15 min in the morning and evening doing a quick check, regardless of how bagged I am.
I think the best advice I can give is that I think gardening should be a RELAXING experience, not a burden or stress and if your life is especially busy right now, you owe it to yourself to just stop and breath and relax and accept your garden for what it is right now at this moment in your life. It’s just a moment.
And maybe instead of trying to “do it all”, think about 2 or 4 things that you really and truly LOVE to grow/eat and focus on them.

Posted on 22 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

Good to see you back, MM. I’ve been away as well. I agree with all the advice you’ve been given, especially the part about relaxing and enjoying the garden rather than stressing about it. If it is currently too much, well the fittest plants will survive and those will be the ones you appreciate in the long run.

A morning cuppa in the garden is a good start to the day and if a few weeds get pulled from path edges I barely notice I’m doing it, because it isn’t why I went out. I tend to be more functional at the end of the day and in Summer try to pre prepare as much as possible of the evening meal so I can stay out later, when it is cooler. I also have a cap with LED ‘headlights’ which is great for squeezing in a little bit more time. When it is too hot, I abandon the garden and just do as much watering as I have the energy for, and always in the evening. I catch up on the larger maintenance things when the weather cools.

Sitting to work? Of course! The only drawback is that you are more convenient for the ants, etc. I have been sitting on the ground as much as possible because it is easier on my back. It also limits my view to what I am doing, so I get to focus on what a positive effect I have had on my little patch and the larger horror is less obvious ;)

Winter is coming and I’m sure you will feel better about the garden when the weeds slow up it is cool enough to really enjoy it.

Posted on 22 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

Just wait until you retire………. NO, do it now while you know how to manage your time better.

Posted on 23 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

Welcome back!

Dont feel guilty about neglecting the garden! Its supposed to be fun, not an obligation. If you are too tired to do some task, skip it!

I work, have kids, a huge yard. Except in one small “pampered” bed for vegetables and showy ornamentals, I take a Darwinian philosophy about my plants—If they cant look good and hold their own with minimal care they must go. Most of the yard is self sustaining natives and other site adapted plants. I have a lot of shrubs and trees which are low maintenance. The annuals I grow are mostly self seeding. Stuff that needs spraying to avoid unsightly disease gets shovel pruned. I dont use compost or fertilizer on most of the yard, or improve the soil—instead relying on plants that like bad soil. In most of the yard shade, drought, a dense matrix planting and bad soil keep the weeds from getting too out of hand. The majority of my gardening time is spent wandering around with a cup of coffee, or taking photos.

Posted on 24 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

The answer seems to be- make your life in the garden. Toss out your TV. Put out a porch swing, take your meals out there, meditate, entertain your special friends. And garden a bit.

Posted on 28 Apr 12 (about 4 years ago)

Would you like to add a comment? Sign up for a free account, or log in if you're already a member.


Previous Journals

Later Journals

? This question is currently listed as unanswered. If you think you may be able to help with this question, leave massivemelons a possible answer below.