The weather here was unseasonably warm through much of February. We’re used to having a foot or more of snow on the ground this time of year but found ourselves wading through mud and teased by warm temperatures that felt like we should be doing productive things outside. While it’s too early to begin much of the real spring work of plowing and planting, there are plenty of productive things we’re working on right now.
One of the most productive uses of our time right now is cleaning and organizing. I know it’s not the most exciting thing, but it is important. Organizing supplies and taking stock of what we have means I will be able to find things quickly when I’m much busier later in the spring. It also means I will not be caught off-guard when I find I’m out of something, taking inventory now means I can plant to pick up supplies before I need them.
I always inventory my seeds before the planting season arrives so I have time to order things I don’t have on hand. It also helps prevent waste by knowing what I do have on hand, whether left over from last year or things I’ve saved myself. It’s easy to go a little crazy when flipping through seed catalogs and order things I already have if I don’t have a list of what I have in stock. It also helps to paint a realistic picture of how many different vegetables and varieties I have, so I can be mindful about how much garden space is already going to be filled with things on hand before I spend money on more.
Beyond seeds, I also take stock of what I’ll need to start seedlings. I need trays, cell packs, peat pots, soilless growing medium, organic potting soil, organic fertilizer, and more. I also clean and organize the small greenhouse where I do the seed starting. I clear away any weeds that grew up over the summer and fall months. Organizing the trays, tools and such gives me a visual of what I have on hand so that I can have an accurate idea of what I’ll need before I head to the garden supply store.
We’ve also spent some time cleaning and organizing an underutilized building we’ve always referred to as the woodshed. It’s located conveniently near the garden, so it’s always been a place to store tools. However, many times it’s been so disorganized it’s hard to find things or know if they are even in there. A thorough cleaning was years overdue and part of a larger project to expand my rabbitry. We’ve made great strides in knowing exactly what is in there and making it easy to find what we need. Racks were built to hold shovels, rakes, and other long-handled hand tools. Having more organized storage space avoids hard-to-deal-with (and potentially hazardous!) piles in a corner. We disposed of broken things or things we simply don’t use. Useful things, like a rake in need of a new handle or pruning shears in need of a good sharpening, were set aside. This way we are able to buy a new handle or make time to sharpen them before we need the tool.
We also got a number of inexpensive small tubs a the dollar store to organize a large cabinet. The shelves were strewn with small hand tools, parts for the irrigation system, plates for the small seed planters, and plenty of things that just didn’t belong there. Removing the junk and making separate places for separate items means it’s easy to see what is on hand, find what we need, and stock up if we are running out of something.
Our organization efforts cost very little money. The biggest investment was simply time and elbow grease. It will pay off as the season goes along, as it will help us avoid extra trips to get supplies or extra shipping charges for orders placed online. It will greatly reduce time wasted looking for something needed to get a task done. It feels great to take a cluttered mess and make it a working space once again. Of course, after all this hard work, the biggest challenge is to keep it tidy and organized. Realistically, I know it won’t stay this nice when we’re in the midst of another busy garden season. But that’s a great reason to make spring cleaning a task to tackle each year!