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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The 10-Minute Gardener: Removing Friction

by Douglas E. Welch, agn@welchwrite.com
Reader/Listener Line - 206-338-5832


One of the essentials to reconnecting with your garden is making movement from other activities to gardening activities frictionless. You should be able to move from one to the other without more thought than it takes to get out of bed in the morning. If there are any impediments between what you are doing now and what you want to do, you will be stopped in your tracks. Inertia, the physical law that states that "objects at rest tend to remain at rest, unless acted on by an outside force" can be seen as a mental law as well. If you are engaged in one activity, your natural inclination will be to remain there. This is why it can be so hard sometimes to get out of your easy chair and into the garden. If you want to do something else, you have to act -- to move -- to initiate that activity. This is where most of us find ourselves bogged down each day. One part of our mind wants to work in the garden, while another is simply happy to remain where we are. We can't seem to overcome the inertia. We need to remove the friction that can make it so hard to move.


So, one of your first 10-minute tasks in your garden is to remove some impediments. Make your first 10-minute task to gather all your gardening tools -- hoes, rakes, glove, pruners, etc. -- into one central location. This should be located as close as possible to where you will use them. It could be in a gardening toolbox, like the one's I created with my son a few year's ago, in a 5-gallon bucket or perhaps into some grand contraption which you purchased, but have never used. In some cases, especially when your available storage is far away from the garden, you might even consider building a stand-alone tool shed, right in the garden itself. Not only is it functional, it can double as a decorative element for your garden.

If you are missing some basic tools, spend a few, enjoyable, minutes shopping for replacements. You don't want or need to spend an inordinate amount of time on this, but having the right tools is certainly part of the joy of gardening. Don't go for whiz-bang special gizmos, though. Choose simple, hardworking, tools that you actually will use such as a hoe, hand pruner, lopper, garden rake, leaf rake, shovel and gloves.

Now that you have your tools, new and old, and a place to keep them, you have reduced a tremendous amount of friction to entering your garden. You won't have to search for this and that and get too frustrated to work. You can go straight to your toolkit, grab your pruners and gloves and go at it. In ten minutes you will find that not only have you done the job you planned on, but probably several others, as well. Then, you can return your tools to their new storage spot and you are ready for the next 10-minute project, whenever the mood strikes you.


Of course, another element that creates friction is clothing. You won't want to go out to turn the compost in your office clothes or tromp across a muddy garden in your Ferragamo pumps. Instead, buy a nice set of "Wellies" or garden clogs that you can quickly slop on as you step out the door. Keep some gardening clothes on a coat rack, either inside the house or stored with your gardening tools. Great athletes will often tell you that it is the act of "putting on the uniform" that begins their practice. You can use the same type of rituals. Putting on your garden shoes puts you in the right frame of mind to take the next step. I purchased a couple of waterproof aprons, with large pockets, a few years ago to wear when I was painting watercolors. These work just as well for gardening though. They cover my clothes enough that I can step out to do a quick job without worrying about ruining my shirt or pants. An old sweatshirt or pair of sweatpants work well, too.

Take 10 minutes today and take a big step forward in your gardening life. Tear down the walls that friction creates and make it as easy as possible to step into your garden at a moment's notice.

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