Make Your Garden Work More Efficiently

Reader Contribution by Cindy Conner
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Your kitchen is probably the most organized place in your home. I assume that all your dinner plates are kept stacked in the same cupboard and your silverware is in a drawer, divided into spoons, forks, and knives. If you have to reach for a clean dishtowel, you automatically open the drawer they are kept in. Everything has a place and you know where it is. But what about the other work areas in your life? What about your garden?

It might be time to find an opportunity to observe yourself in your garden. Where are your tools and equipment kept? How many of those tools and how much of that equipment do you actually use? Can you find things when you need them? These are all questions you should be thinking about.

If your garden is close to your house or an outbuilding, your tools are probably kept nearby. If not, you have to keep them somewhere and transport them to the garden. If it is possible, build a tool shed in your garden. It doesn’t have to be big and elaborate. Depending on what you need to put in it, it could be quite small. I have several trowels that I like to use. My son, Jarod, mounted an old mailbox on a support that he welded and painted for me. We put it in the garden and it’s the best thing for storing my trowels and soil knife. As long as I put them back each time, I can grab one quickly, as easily as you would grab a clean dish towel in your kitchen. I know someone whose garden is a distance from her home, so she drives there. Her car is her garden shed, storing all her equipment in the back. People keep their golf clubs in their trunk, why not garden forks and spades?

Over the years, it is easy to accumulate lots of garden items while you are still refining your garden management methods. Something that looked so enticing in a garden catalog that your spouse bought it for you as a gift, knowing that was just what you needed/wanted, turned out to be something you never really used. It doesn’t take many gifts (from others or the ones you bought yourself) like that to begin to be a burden on your storage space. Decide what it is that you find valuable and useful and get rid of the rest. If it could be valuable and useful to someone else, clean it up and pass it on. Recycle what you can. If what you discard from your life ends up in the landfill, promise yourself that you will be more careful about what you bring into your life in the future.

Even if you know that what you are looking for is there somewhere, it is easy to overlook it in a jumble of tools and equipment. Just like your spoons, forks, and knives are separated in your kitchen, think how you can separate your tools. Hanging things up is usually the solution. Where to keep my sickle used to be a problem for me. It is sharp, so I wanted to keep it separate. I didn’t hang it up originally because I didn’t have any way to do that. I solved the problem when I drilled a hole in the end and made a hanging loop with an old shoestring. Now it is stored in the house in its own spot.

If you ever take your garden tools elsewhere, where others are also bringing tools, you need to have some way to identify what is yours. You could paint the handles. If you choose something other than green or brown, the paint will make the tool easier to find when you accidently leave it on the ground. I have a hoe that I burned my farm name into, along with a design, using a wood burning tool our children had. There was no mistaking that it was mine when I took it to the community college where I was teaching. Find more ideas about making your garden work more efficient at Homeplace Earth.

If your gardening activities involve other people who are using the same tools and space, discuss your system of organization with them. Everyone’s mind works differently. If you want to find your tools easily, make sure the system that is decided upon makes sense to everyone involved. Take a new look at everything and find ways to make your life easier. Have fun!

Learn more about Cindy Conner and what she’s up to