I’m going to plan a garden working bee this weekend, and there are just a few key ingredients to get right.
STEP 1: Friends
Gardening is pretty satisfying by yourself, pottering about fixing and nurturing and helping things on their way, but is awesome when it brings people together. From sharing tips and mistakes, to sharing tools and ideas, to swapping crops and harvest, having a good gardening community has taken gardening to the next level since agriculture began.
BUT when you’re looking for friends who will help you shovel compost, you’re talking about pretty special friends. These are the kind of friends who know a job shared is a job halved. This might be the kind of friend you can say ‘you buy the lawn mower, I’ll buy the chipper’ to, or ‘you build a compost heap and I’ll do a worm farm’, or ‘you plant tomatoes and I’ll plant beans’, or the kind of friend who knows they can call you from a traffic jam at 3:25 on a school day and be sure the kids are OK.
The deal for our working bee today is about skills share – our friends are going to come over (family of 5 including 3 reasonably big sons – win!) and help in the garden if we teach them all about veggie gardening. This is great, because Paul’s foot is in a cast, and winter planting just wasn’t getting done!
STEP 2: A PLAN
Our family, plus their family. That’s 10 people, and some of them are under 10 years old. So making it up as we go along isn’t going to work out. The jobs that need doing include planting, weeding, chipping, building a compost heap and general tidying. If I have at least the first jobs planned, we can all get busy straight away and get that lovely ‘getting things done’ feeling.
Being the able-bodied grown up that lives here – I’m thinking I’ll take the less glamorous tasks: getting the muck from the bottom of the chook run near to where the compost heap is going to be, and then operating the chipper.
Our guests will have the fun task: the actual planting – and we have a plan all laid out in The Garden Planner iPad App, so we know what will go where, and our crop rotation and companion planting is all thought through. Paul has had a lovely evening or two on the sofa trying out various arrangements of plants in the beds in the app and now has a plan – not only for how we’ll plant things out today, but for how the staggered plantings will go in over the next weeks, and then how our harvests will come in through the season. The app’s reminders will keep us on track.
STEP 3: TOOLS
To keep things rolling smoothly we’ve had a look in the old garden tool corner (we don’t really have a shed) to make sure everything is there and working. A few shovels and hoes, check the wheelbarrow is OK, have a few pairs of gloves on hand (geddit?).
Borrowing tools and sharing some of the more expensive things is another great way to build the garden community. Even if you can’t attend a friends gardening day, lending tools that makes life easy keeps what’s going around, coming around.
STEP 4: FOOD
Great food is great – and let’s face it, it’s why we garden! We’ve made an epic apple cake for afternoon tea, plenty of fresh fruit, and a huge slab of bread is rising on the bench. I also have a fridge full of sausages and a cheeky few bottles of homebrew beer at the ready for a BBQ as the sun goes down.
I’ve been warned teenage boys eat a lot, and after an afternoon out in the sun, we’ll all be pretty hungry so maybe I’ll whip up a few deserts as well.
READY, SET, GO!
The final ingredient – a mild, sunny late summer Saturday afternoon – appears to have arrived of its own accord, so everything is in place! Should be a magic day for gardening. I’ll post some pics over on the Facebook and Instagram pages if you want to see how it all works out.