A Tit for Tat System of Gardening

The month of May was consuming. This year, I had a new school garden to manage. It is very large, much larger than the school garden I was previously in charge of caring for. It’s been a struggle to get it planted and weeded.  Before planting with each of the 400+ students that attend this elementary school, my husband and I weeded. He also used a rototiller on one of the large garden beds.  Planting took place over a period of two weeks. During the two weeks we had rain, temperatures in the upper 90’s and more rain. You know what that means, don’t you?

Weeds!

It might as well be mid-August, given how things are growing! Unfortunately, the constant weeding has prevented my mulching of the beds as well. It seems I am caught in a vicious cycle of weeding, rain, heat, and mulching and have been unable to get out.  I’ve realized that in the space of time from last June to October, not much was done in the garden. Of everything that was planted last year, none were removed as part of fall clean up, so everything reseeded. I am already telling myself we need to have a fall clean up this year – for sure. I don’t want to go through this again!

Two hours have been invested this week already with another two planned for tonight. I was left in charge of attempting to recruit community volunteers, both from the parents of the children who attend this school, and from a business partnership that has been formed to help assist the school with their needs. Last week, by this time, I designed and sent out a digital volunteer sign up sheet asking for help. Both the school and the business had promised some help in the garden this summer. We are to meet at 6:30 tonight, but the sign up sheet is empty, with the exception of my name. Fortunately, my husband will go with me to help get the last portion of the garden that the students planted, weeded and mulched. As I have learned from the past, summer garden help for a community based school garden is elusive. The difference here being the size of the gardens. Again, these beds are huge – without help, I will not last another year in this position.

A New System

We also have extensive gardens at home. In the past I’ve been guilty of letting them go or letting my husband do the work in those as I pursued keeping up on the school garden I previously managed. I decided that this was not fair to him or even to me. Spending all my free time working on garden beds that were not my own was frustrating. So now, I have been trying a tit for tat system. For every hour I spend at school in the gardens, I have already spent an hour at home in my own gardens. It seems to be working. My frustrations are kept at bay as I work to beautify my home environment, as well as that of a community space.

IMG_1574

I have also noted that I must have experienced some personal growth in that I am not anxious about the gardens at this school appearing unkempt. I know I have worked hard. After all, my focus is on the students and teaching. I was able to get all of the classrooms in this pre-K to fifth grade elementary school out to plant. That is quite an accomplishment!  Had I not done that, would the gardens be in better shape? Mostly likely, yes! Would I feel as accomplished? Most likely, no!  More than a few times this spring I have reiterated to people that I am an educator first, and a gardener second. The gardens are the vehicle in which my lessons ride.  Does this mean that the school gardens are not important? No. Does this mean the school gardens might look messy from time to time? A most certain, yes!

I am hoping that someone will show up tonight to help my husband and I in the school gardens. But, since no one has signed the volunteer sheet, I also have my doubts. We will continue to work, side by side, as we’ve done in the past, at home and at school, to fulfill commitments to both ourselves and the community in which we live.

 

This post was written and shared for the Slice of Life Tuesday blog forum hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. Thanks for the wonderful sense of community this group provides!

6 Thoughts

  1. I think all gardens should look a bit messy and unkempt from time to time, like nature. You should congratulate yourself on getting all those students into the garden – quite an achievement. I expect for some that will have been their first experience of gardening? And even if they don’t repeat it for many years it will stay with them and they will be able to draw on it later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much! I am focusing on that very thing. It was a priority for me to get all the students planting and from what I’ve heard (and overheard) they really enjoyed it! You are correct in that some of them have never been in a garden or put a plant in the ground before. I want them all to flourish over the summer so that when the students come back they can point to the very plant they put in the garden with pride! Thanks for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is now Wednesday and I am wondering if you had helpers. I understand your frustrations and the balance you are working towards. I tried that when I was teaching – to maintain and inside garden with students but the balance was hard. I was also in the community that did not value the garden and what it can teach us. I hope you get volunteers – it sounds like a project that I would love to help with. Good Luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your interest, Joanne. I did not have help from the business or school. But, my husband came to help and the former principal of the elementary school where I had my original garden club came to help All three of us were there 2 hours. I was happy to have their help but also hope others decide to join in. The gardens are extensive. My husband estimates that it will take about 10 hours of work a week to maintain them this summer. Too bad we don’t live closer – sounds like we’d hit it off!

      Liked by 1 person

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