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Organizing the Garden

Posted by Julie_MI_Z5 (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 26, 05 at 5:47

With the colder weather and impending time change, hours for garden clean up are going to be limited to weekends now. Sunday I packed up a big Hefty bag-o-crap from the shed to help make room for the garden statuary and yard art that cant stay out all winter. (Keep this part secret: For every bag of my garden junk I toss, DH loses a couple pieces of his ugliest old scrap wood.)


I keep telling myself that every hour I spend cutting back perennials this fall equals one hour I dont spend on garden clean up in the spring. I was chopping like crazy on Sunday! LOTS of perennials, so this is going to take a few more weekends.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Organizing the Garden

Julie, good for you! I still have to start my garden clean-up, it's been too wet and rainy to do much of anything except watch the leaves float by (our yard tends to puddles and we back up on a brook).

I've pulled out my tomatos, but the rest of the garden mess remains and there are plenty of leaves to be raked, dahlias to be pulled up, and bulbs to be planted. This weekend is supposed to be drier, I'm hoping to get moving then.


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RE: Organizing the Garden

Sheri,

Thanks for the reminder to check the weather forecast! If we have rain this weekend, it will be 2 weekends after that before I can get out there again. This week has been crazy and I haven't been home one night before dark.


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RE: Organizing the Garden

"I keep telling myself that every hour I spend cutting back perennials this fall equals one hour I dont spend on garden clean up in the spring."


Actually I think that you save even more time than that! When new perennials are growing up in the old ones, it's much harder to 'clean up' then if most of it's dead, where you can just hack at it. Doing it now means that you don't have to try to avoid chopping off shoots that you don't want gone!

I spent last weekend, hacking, hauling and spreading mulch. I still have some to do. I get great satisfaction from completing things in the garden. It takes Mother Nature much longer to screw up my yards than it does for my family to kill my clean house! LOL


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So true... harder to cut back dead plants once the new ones start growing through!

There was about an hour and a half of daylight left when I came home from work, so I filled two and a half paper compost bags with hosta cuttings. I dread cutting those back the most since the pruners have to be disinfected between plants... and I have a lot of plants. A couple more hours tomorrow (we're supposed to get to 50 degrees--hooray!) and the backyard will be done.


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So true... harder to cut back dead plants once the new ones start growing through!

There was about an hour and a half of daylight left when I came home from work, so I filled two and a half paper compost bags with hosta cuttings. I dread cutting those back the most since the pruners have to be disinfected between plants... and I have a lot of plants. A couple more hours tomorrow (we're supposed to get to 50 degrees--hooray!) and the backyard will be done.


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Good for you! :)

I've got all of my mulch spread except for the things that are still growing and healthy that won't die until a hard freeze.

So when the rest of my neighbors are shivering while 'winterizing' when it's freezing cold out, all I have to do is hack those, spread a little mulch where they used to be and I'll be done until I have to do my rose containers...

I'm learning. This year will be much better on the winterizing misery index. After waiting too long last year and having frozen bags of mulch, I'm not waiting until it's too damn cold to enjoy being outside. I learned that if you jump up and down on a half frozen bag of mulch that you can break it up enough to spread it. However, it's not one that I'd like to repeat! LOL :D


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RE: Organizing the Garden

Smom40,

I do mulch differently. New mulch goes on in the spring to deter weeds and limit water requirements. It stays on all summer. In the fall, I grind up the leaves and throw them on top of the mulch. All my perennials are winter-hardy, so the snow will insulate them, too. A fresh layer of mulch goes on in the spring to replace what decomposed (which is a significant amount).

P.S. Should have seen the look on my teenaged boy's face when he repeated back, "You want me to rake the leaves out of the flowerbeds, then grind them up and put them BACK in the flowerbeds??" LOL He personally thought we should save a step and just leave them un-shredded.


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I spent a half hour in the veg garden this morning, pulling up the last of the basil and marigolds and whatnot. I also pulled up half my dahlias, and I'm going to try to overwinter the bulbs for the first time -- I suspect my garage will be too cold and my basement too warm, but I'm going to give it a try anyway.

I had strawberry plants for the first time this year and I have no idea what to do with them other than just leave them where they are until spring. The silly things still have a few blossoms and green berries on them despite temps in the 30's overnight this week.

I also spent a half hour starting to rake piles of leaves for bagging. This is something I absolutely have to pace myself with because if I even start to think about what a huge job my back yard will be, I'd cry. However, I know it can be done if I just tackle it one bag at a time over the next month or so (I filled 30+ bags last year). The kids are finally big enough to do some raking for me, too, which will help a lot.


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RE: Organizing the Garden

Sheri,

You can do it! Like you said, pace yourself so it doesn't seem as overwhelming, and take the kids out and let them play while you rake, then bring everyone inside for a treat.

I went out earlier this afternoon and filled 2 more big compost bags of perennials. The backyard is looking pretty bare, the front yard looks barely touched (which is OK). Tomorrow is supposed to be pretty weather, too, so I'll go out and putter some more.

Our leaves are coming down slowly, and once they're down we can rake them onto tarps and drag them to the curb. Then the big leaf trucks come by and scoop them up.


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I tell myself every year that I will do the fall clean-up, but I never do. When we moved into this house last year, the first thing I was going to do was put up a shed. After looking out the window all winter to the backyard, I realized that I don't want to look at a shed. No shed.

I did get the leaves in the front yard bagged up and put around back. We have so many trees that they mulch the flower beds for me. I haven't gotten industrious enough to shred them. In the spring I'll gather all of the leaves up and use them for browns in my compost piles. In my climate, the leaves don't break down all that easily.

I've learned that I do not take care of my tools and other than the rake, I just plan on buying new gloves, cutters, etc. every spring. Otherwise, we can get the mower in the garage (trades places with the snowblower) and I'm made a promise to myself that I just won't buy more than I have room for in storage.

I've also decided that this is my last year for pots. The older I get the less I seem to enjoy filling them, watering, moving, etc. I would love to have terra cotta pots but then I would have to bring them in every winter. Too much work for me, so I'm going to just be sticking with large beds. I keep them so packed there isn't much to do in the way of weeding.

Gloria


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Gloria,
Don't give up totally on a shed! I have seen magazine photos of cute ones built like potting sheds and painted in cheerful colors that I would love to have.

Unfortunately I MUST get the leaves out of the flowerbeds. They won't decompose otherwise and it makes for a mess in the spring when the new perennials are coming up and I'm trying to rake out ugly old sycamore leaves.

Best way to keep pruners clean: I keep mine by the back door. I can bring them in with me and wipe them down when I wash my hands, and put them by the door so I can grab them the next time I go out. Don't ask me about gardening gloves... I always forget to put them on.

I know what you mean about pots. This year I packed them all with soil-moist crystals so they could do without water longer, and I never moved them. Almost all of them held perennials this year, with coleus I grew from seed. The coleus went crazy in Miracle Grow potting soil; I've never seen them so huge! I always wanted terra cotta, too, but they have to be watered every 20 minutes here... made me crazy.

My beds are also packed... only I can find the stepping stones to walk through them! LOL When I started gardening I had everything "just so" but now I just stick plants where there is room.


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Wipe your pruners after use and you won't kill them. I've learned this the hard way, more times than I can count. A little oiling or maybe some steel wool on occasion and there you go.

I've heard about putting motor oil in a 5 gallon bucket of sand to clean shovels. I want to try that next year. Sand scrapes the dirt off and oil lubricates the tool. Supposedly you just move the tool up and down (like a butter churn) a few times and then hang it up. I'll keep you posted if it actually works!

As to gloves? I threw them out regularly until I discovered "Mud Gloves". (I think that I got them from Home Depot?) Knock off the dirt, or run hands under water. I don't know how they overwinter yet, but I haven't had to really clean or take care of them this season. They don't mat with dirt or shrink like leather. Hands aren't cold when it's chilly and I can prune my roses without injury.

I love terra cotta too, but in this zone, I ain't hauling those puppies in and out. I'll buy the fake stuff and cope! LOL

Julie, I'm from CA. Everyone mulches year round to keep the soil moist. It's a habit. I like a lot of organic matter in the beds and I don't have to weed much, only edge. Mulch for moisture in the summer, mulch for organic matter, mulch for insulation in the winter. I just replace what's missing. I discovered last year where I mulched my brains out last fall, I didn't have to replace much in the spring.

It also encourages worms which leave behind lovely castings and is helping to turn my clay cement into actual soil! LOL I figure about five years from now, I'll actually be able to comfortably dig in this mess! (Instead of fantasizing about having a backhoe and all new topsoil...)


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If someone doesn't mulch here, you take a big chance on losing a good amounts of plants. I like to let it get really cold first and then pile more leaves on. If we don't get early snow cover, or it melts back early in April, the sun and wind will get them for sure.

I winter sow many seeds, so I do pull the leaves off in May so they can start coming up. I keep a large compost operation going and keep everything mulched with compost during the summer. I also mulch with worm casings since I keep a worm bin going in the house all winter.

We have cool summers, so moisture retension isn't that much of an issue. I just want to keep the weeds down and keep the soil thriving.

Julie, anything other than a metal or vinyl shed is going to cost me $10,000+ here. The DH is not a handy building kind of guy so labor costs will get me. Even looking at shipping up kits is hugely expensive. From what I've seen, most sheds just end up piled full of stuff anyway. Since I've gotten by without one for all of these years there's no point in going down that road now.

I need to set up some type of shelf by the back door to put my small tools on. I always get interrupted and just set them down where I'm working. I don't usually get back there for days. The fact that there is no home for the tools during the summer is my root problem. So, I guess I better fix that.

Gloria


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RE: Organizing the Garden

Gloria, I agree, skip the shed! Definitely go with a shelf or something by the back door for your hand tools (and the gloves I always forget). I really do prefer to have them readily available instead of having to go out to our shed before I do the "garden tour" every night after work.

And thanks for the reminder---I have seeds I need to throw down before it gets dark! I raked out the beds today and forgot to put the seeds down afterwards.


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RE: Organizing the Garden

Quiltglo, you do worms IN the house? Omg, could you let me know how you do it? I LOVE earthworm castings but paying for them is expensive. How do you do this without stink, leaking and muck? Enquiring minds want to know! LOL

As to bigger tools, get some of those "U" rack thingees and hang them on the wall in the garage. I've never mounted them myself but I think that even I could figure out how to do that! That's where my rakes and shovels go.

I have to figure out a place to put certain chemicals, ferts and liquid amendments that won't deal well with cold temps.. I don't have a lot, but I don't want to waste it.


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smom, I keep my worms in my laundry room. You would never know they were there. I just use a 18 gallon Sterlite storage container. I do not drill holes in the bottom, so there isn't any leaking. The Sterlite containers have air holes at the handles, so I don't even have air holes drilled along the top. If I was using Rubbermaid, I would drill a few right under the lid. If you are worried about escapees, you can glue some nylon screening over the holes.

I put in some shredded paper, leaves and a handful of dirt. The worms need grit. Throw in my worms and dump in the food. We go through a gallon of kitchen scraps every couple of days, so I dump in a load to the worms every couple of weeks. The moisture seems to stay just right from the food. If it seems to be getting too wet, I just tear up some newspapers and stir the whole mess up. Too dry and I pour in some water.

I use plain old garden worms, since I can't see paying overnight postage for worms! I think red wigglers would go through the food faster, though. You have to remember that worms don't eat the food, they eat the bacteria which is causing the food to decay. They like all of that muck, so every couple of months I thow on some gloves and stir the muck from the bottom up through the rest of the not so mucky parts. Gets the rest of it decaying a bit faster.

They like the temps to be 60-70 degrees and they don't like light. I do avoid some things like banana peels since I don't want fruit flys, otherwise, if it can decompose it gets put in there.

I have a decent sized composting set up going in the yard. Throw away a paper towel around here and you're in trouble. I haven't had any yard chemicals around in years. We have so many worms out there, that I'm going to see if I can get my 11 yo set up to sell them to the bait shops next year.

One word of caution!! It's addicting!

Gloria


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Oh Gad, you told me! LOL (ohhhh nooooooo this sounds doable!)

If I do this, my husband is going to kill me. I already went through hell and back to find a STURDY composting bin. Try to find one in a burg where people buy only LAWN FURNITURE in the 'garden section' of Home Depot here. @@ I sent away for a bin, only to have it blow across my yard during the first storm. LOL

But I finally found a Rubbermaid one (so the HOA doesn't realize that I'm composting right next to my garbage cans) that wasn't made anymore. Dusty and full of cobwebs that I got a deal on since they didn't even have the box anymore. LOL

I'm buying alfalfa, cracked corn and my DH is @@...I buy nematodes, milky spore and BT and my DH is @@...I tell him to MOW HIGH and bark about overwatering and mulching and he's @@...I darn near killed him for putting down a fertilizer that had a weed killer in it recently. (He didn't read the bag.)

But if I put worms in the laundry room, I can't imagine that he won't finally spaz.

Hmmm....gotta think about how I could possibly pull this off.

Thanks for the rundown. I really appreciate it.


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I spent an hour raking leaves yesterday,only did the front. Next I'll do the backyard. My gardening friend bags his leaves, then puts the bags in the street and runs over and over them with his car. Poof! Instant mulch for the winter. It's been unusually warm the last two days, I mean seventy degrees and sunny, I gueess that's what one calls "Induan Summer". After the outside is done, I can get the house clean for Thanksgiving. No guests this year, MIL passed away in January and the rest of the family doesn't want to travel to us. So it's just the four of us, time for some new traditions.


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Well, it's 15 degrees here this morning and I'm freezing.

I wonder if my bags would hold up to being run over? Hmmm. Seems like it's worth a try.

Since, as usual, I let the stuff just sit out there, I'm now going to have to pry it off the frozen ground or we won't have room to fix the ice rink.

Gloria


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RE: Organizing the Garden

Worth a try! LOL

Go over it a few times, spread it quickly and run inside for something warm to drink! :)

I left my mulch out last year until it was half-frozen. Came out of the first bag in massive chunks. So I jumped up and down on the next bags a few times and it was loose enough to spread it a bit.

Just make sure that it's not sealed too tightly or you'll have a balloon and it will pop. (Here I'm giving advice and I've never done it before.)


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My feet are freezing. My own fault for not getting that fall clean-up done. I just finished putting the first coat of water down for the ice rink and I did end up jumping up and down on a bag of leaves, smom. Needed them to fill in a dip and they were a frozen lump.

I've decided that my problem with this stuff isn't that I'm not organized. It just that I have too much to do and I don't delegate. I've got 4 kids. Why in the heck am I out there cleaning up the crap?

Gloria


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I've got 4 kids. Why in the heck am I out there cleaning up the crap?

Probably the same reason as me. The kids are TOO BUSY, too, and not home much more than I am.


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RE: Organizing the Garden

Okay, time to introduce you to a heinous concept of my mother's that worked when we were kids.

It's called "Farm Day".

Both of my parents were raised on farms in a rural area. EVERYONE worked on the farm to keep it going. The life of a child back then was vastly different than that of today's kids. Can't sleep in, have to take care of the animals. Home schooling during harvest time....

With that as a preamble, at times when my mother had enough, she declared a weekend day, Farm Day.

Which means, no radio, no stereo, no television, no phone calls with friends, no socializing, period. When the sun comes up, everyone starts working and you work until the sun goes down, with only meal breaks. Once the sun goes down, Farm Day is over.

Everyone is given jobs according to their ages and abilities. This is the time to clean closets, drawers, out from under beds, the yards, the garage, everything.

We hated Farm Day! LOL Mom declared it and there were groans from everyone. But by the end of the day, it was amazing how much stuff got done. Many hands make light work. Lots of conversation about how things are going with the kids, while everyone is getting their hands dirty.

I've many friends from my previous life in an urban area declare 'Farm Day'. Mothers very happy with the results. Unhappy children only at the beginning. Using that time to talk about life made for good family bonding and interaction.

And the end result being, less griping from Mom because so much was done, so the kids end up winning too.

The kids live there too. Why should Mom be the only one working on the place? Like I've told my own DH, 'I don't mind being 'house mother', but I draw the line at being 'house slave'...."

I know that we ALL fall into the trap of doing everything. Farm Day is a way of geting back on track. I can only do this to a point because of my kid's ages, but lemme tell you, this is one that I've kept in my holster my entire life and plan on using it regularly with mine as they get older. Already I do things like giving my four year old dull rose pruners to 'help' me cut down the dead hostas. We did it yesterday. He cut what he wanted to, I taught him to stack the deitrus and we both carried it to the compost bin and the garbage can. He was very proud of his work. I was proud of him. And my hosta bed is clean. Win-win-win.

Regardless of a kid's schedule, they can take one day and do this. Just for the record, my mother checked our schedules first and when she declared it, participation wasn't 'optional'. We didn't get a vote.


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Our next family "free day" is Thanksgiving. Now wouldn't farm day make THAT a memorable holiday, LOL.

Great day here today, with weather mild enough to rake gobs of wet leaves without freezing to death. I'm home alone today, and using the time to attack the procrastination list... like loading software on the new computer we've had 2 months! Takes forever, but I'm doing other things in between.


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smom, I guess I should have clarified that I was moving a few plastic pots and chairs over to the side of the yard. Twenty minute job that I really should have delegated to the kids, but wanted it done then so I could start hosing the rink area.

Your mom's "Farm Day" is what I'm trying to avoid. My mom used the same basic method, but by putting off a huge number of jobs, we never learned to control the workload. It becomes overwhelming and it just builds up until its a mess.

By sticking with our current system, we go through closets every month. The kids clean their rooms a bit everyday instead if it ever being a huge mess. Everyone has basic chores around here, but they are daily or weekly chores. Even though we need to move the bikes and mower around so I can park my car in the garage, it will only take a half hour or so.

I havent spent a day cleaning the house in over two years. Just a little bit everyday keeps us in good shape all of the time. I hope I wasnt implying that Im the only one doing any work. If we just stay on top of things, there isnt a need for a day or two and kill yourself with the load.

Gloria


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I've been "mowing" my leaves into the catchbag then dumping them into various areas for mulch. It is really a great method and not much raking. As long as they are dry, it is all very lightweight.

Carol


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Gloria, I agree! I think this is why I'm so keen on FlyLady's system. The small time increments make a big difference in the long run, and I no longer have to devote entire days to catching up.

P.S. We had rain and wind this morning and it doesn't even look like I raked leaves yesterday. :(


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Quiltgo, I get what you're saying but take exception to 'putting off a number of jobs'. That would be in the context of ME, not the context of 'Mom'. I'm the one that puts off things.

If my mother put off any job at all, it was learning how to teach the kids what she knew. She was too busy trying to stretch a penny into copper wire. She did EVERYTHING. From meals to cleaning to painting to making jam, growing tomatoes and making velvet Christmas dresses.

What she didn't do was clean out our drawers, under our beds or in our closets. She didn't spend much time teaching us how to do it,or supervising it and the truth be told, we really weren't interested in knowing what she knew how to do. She didn't have cooperative children. WE didn't want to work. We were stubborn rocks in her road. She'd complain, we'd ignore her. Literally. Until she couldn't stand it anymore and we found the contents of drawers on top of our beds and would be forced to do it if we wanted to go to sleep that night.

And all of us severely regret our attitudes. The woman could balance an almost non-existant budget, feed a family on a can of spam, and her home was painted and functional, and kids were mended, clean, ironed and neat. ("Soap is cheap" is her motto.)

She's 75 and the only difference is that she sleeps later now. And the only time I've ever seen a 'mess' in her house is if she's moving things to paint. She could have made a mint teaching classes in what she could do. Fish, hunt, make sausage, butcher your own meat, darn a sock, change out a zipper, replace plumbing. I wish that I could download her brain!

She did teach me how to fish, grow tomatoes, iron, cook a few things, replace a pane of glass, change a tire, pull a toilet, add oil to my car, make strawberry jam and to write a thank you note.

And the description of her is one of the reasons why I irrationally rejected her life. I didn't want to work THAT hard. Work? Fine? Fingers to the bone, whaddya get, boney fingers. I wanted to do more than scrub and paint with my life.

Because she didn't know how to teach, *I* don't know how to teach that stuff to my own kids. Through osmosis somehow, I absorbed the lesson that if I can't do it myself, I suck. She NEVER said that. I doubt that she ever thought that except in the context of herself. But I got the lesson anyway. Probably had something to do with the stories of her being a military wife. Dad overseas? What the hey, she moved across country pregnant with two small kids, bought a house, moved in and gave birth. He showed up a few months later and probably asked "whats' for dinner?' While she did his laundry and used a mangle to iron his uniforms.

And that is why I kill myself doing it alone.

I know how to scrub a toilet. But I need to learn how to KEEP it up, versus quitting behind being overwhelmed/bored/frustrated.

For me it's all about management, not necessarily the 'doing'. I know how to do it the hard way. I'd like it all not to be 'hard'.

I agree with doing as you go will do it. Getting past the feelings of always being a 'human doing' and not a 'human being' is my biggest challenge.

Intellectually I know that I have conveniences that she didn't have. She didn't have frozen dinners or take out. Until the end, she didn't even have polyester or a dryer. (That's a memory, hanging towels on the line...) Hell, we didn't have a color television until about 1974.

But she also didn't have 'playdates', or even 1/10th the amount of STUFF that we have. Owning means finding a place to put it, cleaning it, maintaining it, and making sure that it goes back to it's 'place'. Kids played outside. Owned a handful of toys and didn't need constant supervision. Didn't have the peer pressure of owning stuff. You want to see a movie? Scratch together a buck and go on a Saturday with friends. There were no rentals, Nintendo, Netflix, or conversations wiht a kid as to whether or not they 'neeeed' a cell phone. @@ No parent spent a moment worry about a kid's self-esteem or if Johnny is getting enough intellectual stimulation. Bring home the grades kid and don't break curfew! It was a less convenient but definitely simpler time. Women started making babies in their early 20s. My first child was at 35. My second, at 40. She thinks that's nuts...and I really get now why earlier is 'better'. By 45 her youngest was 15. My 45th birthday is next spring. My youngest will still be four. If I had to vote in some cosmic poll, I would say 'younger is better'.

My biggest issues with this are inside of my own head. Being willing to embrace the whole package and learn the logistics of maintenance. And to get rid of the residual fears of ending up having my life be entirely about being the home maintenance man. Because THAT is really why I quit.


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"My biggest issues with this are inside of my own head."

The most wonderful thing about this is that YOU are the only person you can control in this world.

I'll be 50 next spring and my youngest is only 5 years old. My oldest is 21. Not all women started early and I'm up to the demands of a busy family. My mother had her first child at 35, me at 39. And trust me, while it was different stuff, we had a houseful of stuff even then. I'm sure my mom would have liked to dealt with playdates rather than working full time to help keep the family going. Everyone's challenges are different.

What I'm hearing is many, many excuses.

If you would like to quit doing things the hard way, the change can start with you. But you have to do it. You can't do something for a few day and then say it doesn't work.

I know I sound like a broken record, but with Flylady's basic system of decluttering and zone cleaning, it's the first time I've ever had control of my environment. It all started with me and the changes I made.

It's all up to you.

Gloria


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One of the things that hooked me on flylady was the "You'll never have to do spring cleaning again!" concept. She's right, it's all done along the way.

My biggest problem at the moment is remembering to clean things before they look dirty, but I'm trying.

No leaf raking tonight; any daylight I might have had after work is going to be spent donating blood. Ouchy, but necessary.

Julie


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Just wanted to post my progress -- THIRTY TWO bags of leaves to the curb yesterday, whoo hoo! Of course, it was rainy and windy last night so the back yard is semi-covered again, but nowhere near what it was. And the kids (6 & 10) actually did a good bit of raking for me, which was a first (though I'm tucking away that idea for "Farm Day" for the backyard clean up in the Spring, lol!)

A question for those of you with hostas -- am I supposed to cut them back? I usually just let them wilt to the point where I can rake the decayed hosta leaves out of the beds along with the leaves and other debris, and they've always come back. Is it better to cut?


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I don't think that I really have anything left to say except that my house is clean.

I think that I'll keep the rest to myself. Thanks.


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Sheri, congratulations that was a huge job!

Hostas: I cut mine back when the frost hits them because they're ratty looking. I'll look later in my book to see what the standard recommendation is. If, however, you DO cut them back, remember to disinfectant your pruners in bleach water in between plants due to the hosta virus (same as how you disinfect your shovel when you dig them up to divide or move them).

Must go donate blood. Hope the cookies are better than last time, LOL.


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Julie, thanks for the hosta info. Mine are all way down in the back of my yard, so by the time they get ratty looking, they're buried in leaves, anyway. I didn't know about hosta virus, however, so I'll keep that in mind.


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Sheri,

Here is the address to an article about Hosta Virus X.
http://www.hostalibrary.org/firstlook/HVX.htm

There is another article (I think linked to the one above? you can find more info in a google search) that says how some nursery departments are selling hostas under new names that actually are infected plants (hence the odd markings).


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