The signs are changing

With the New Year upon us, I have had little time to care for the garden as well as I’d like.  Technically we are still on holiday so days spent leisurely tending the garden for all my hearts delight is replaced with a quick dash into it to do what needs doing urgently and harvesting all that is ready.  The time is spent enjoying time with the family before the routine of normal resumes its ebb and flow.

Welcome to my garden
Welcome to my garden – it’s right this way

So needless to say, my sector system is in disarray.  And to make things worse, there was the typical holiday weather of the season – mostly gloomy, with periods of heavy rain and strong wind and just enough sunshine to feel like we haven’t been short changed over the summer holiday break.  I have welcomed the rain as things were starting to dry out and it has provided comfort that the garden will be ok with only sporadic care.  Besides rain restores the moisture to the soil in a way that watering can’t.  The down side of all of this wet and warm weather is the weeds have enjoyed it almost more than my plants and have taken off at a great rate of knots.  I need to resume the sector system sooner rather than later so I regain control and am able to be proactive towards the garden, rather than reactive.  It is never a good thing to bounce wildly around the garden dealing to problems and urgent issues – it sucks the pleasure right out of it.

New signage was well overdue
New signage was well overdue

But while we are still in holiday mode, it seems like the right thing to indulge in projects not problems.  So I turned a blind eye to the weeds and set about doing something I’d been meaning to do for quite some time but hadn’t got around to it.  I had all the materials there in the shed waiting and all it needed was a moment in time where I could just focus on one thing and enjoy the project.  While it makes the garden look pretty, it is also quite functional.  I made new signs for all the beds.

Not just pretty, but functional
Not just pretty, but functional – the three strawberry signs are marked with a number in the top corner so I can keep track of how old the strawberries are in each bed – so at the end of the season all I need to do is move the signs.

I’d thought about it for a while as the signs I already had were several years old, the paint was peeling and there weren’t enough for each bed as … well… the garden has this habit of growing, in more ways than horticulturally.  I’m seriously considering a fence to contain myself.  The garden is a good size and just manageable for me.   I have no self-control when it comes to the garden and I seriously need confining lest I spread further across the land.

Sign making
Looks good, but in hindsight – I’d cut first and then decorate

The signs make the garden look cool, but they are also my crop rotation plan.  Once I sat down and worked it all out – carrots are good after potatoes because they break up the soil, brassicas need to keep moving every year to avoid club root building up in the soil.  Peas and beans can contribute nitrogen to the soil if you leave the roots to rot in the ground, so popping them before a hungry plant is a good idea and onions and garlic are said to have properties that clean up the soil after disease prone plants so popping them in to follow the more ‘precious’ plants is a good idea.  There were loads of other reasons for putting things where they are and it was more complicated than working out the seating plan at a dysfunctional family wedding.  We couldn’t have Step-Aunty Joan anywhere near Cousin Brian three times removed.  The whole thing gave me a headache and wasn’t something I’d care to repeat every season.  So now all I have to do is pick up my signs and move them clock wise and then plant accordingly.  Nothing could be easier.

sign making
That’s a lot of signs there…

To make the signs was interesting.  I’m not all that artistic and have difficulty waiting for paint to dry and wielding a paint brush results in blobby, smudged lines and a touch of disappointment as I fail to realise the vision in my head.  So this time I decided to forgo the paint brushes for paint pens.  It couldn’t have been simpler – I know how to write and my drawing is ok-ish and would suit the needs of the signs.

Pre-drilling the stakes
It is great to get the whole family involved in gardening projects. The Joeyosaurus was so pleased with his sign

Then I pulled the planks of wood from my shed that I had picked up with good intentions months ago from the hardware store and once again bemused the staff with the explanation of my plans for the timber that would ordinarily end up as part of some much more noble a project.  I had 2 metre lengths of smooth dressed 140mm x 20mm planks.  I didn’t fancy spending hours sanding wood smooth to make it easy to paint on so this was perfect.

Stakes screwed securely to the backs of all the signs
Stakes screwed securely to the backs of all the signs

Away from the rain day, I laid the timber on the outdoor table and whiled away a pleasant afternoon ‘painting’ the names of all the beds onto the planks at 25cm intervals.   I was so pleased with myself – I did it all freehand without much pre-planning and didn’t need a do over due to smudging or misspelling.   Once all the words were touch dry, I went back over the signs and added decorative elements and it looked pretty cool.

All my new signs
And there you have it – all my new signs

Then came time to assemble it all.  I would like to say at this point if you value your sanity or wellbeing of your marriage if you get your other half involved, then I would in hindsight suggest you do this bit first and cut up your wood into 25cm lengths and then decorate.  Let’s just say Hubby the Un-Gardener and I came to creative differences over the accuracy of the skill saw that refused to follow the line I’d provided and sailed way too close to my cute painted decorations near the boundaries of the sign.  After much animated discussion, we resorted to a hand saw and I am so grateful for Hubby the Un-Gardener’s man strength because I’d still be out there hacking away at the wood with blisters and stiff muscles forming on blisters and stiff muscles that had already found their way upon my poor old body.

Seriously - how cute does this look?
Seriously – how cute does this look?

Next the sign stakes were made from the slats of wood that ordinarily gets used for making trellis.  The hardware store guys were completely sceptical of this use for the wood, but I reassured them with a cheery “She’ll be right.”  The lengths of wood were easily cut into 40 cm lengths and pre-drilled to prevent splitting and screwed to the backs of the signs.  This bit was easy enough and even The Joeyosaurus had a go with the power tools.  He really wanted to be involved in making the sign for his ‘pet garden.’   After making 37 signs I was pleased that they were all up the right way and actually didn’t look too bad and that family relations were once again harmonious.

It was lovely to take a break from the day to day doing and do some larger big picture projects for the garden that improve functionality and makes it look good too.

Come again soon – most folk will be back at work soon and the weather will improve as a result and it will feel more like summer in the garden again.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)


12 thoughts on “The signs are changing

  1. Sarah, what a fun family project. I remember this sort of thing when my boys were young. It’s nice to know that they are both cheerful and practical. I am amazed that you can manage such a large garden on your own. It’s really quite impressive.

    1. Hi Alys. It is great to get the kids involved, especially using power tools! They thought it was pretty cool.
      The garden is pretty full on, but the key is to stay on top of things, otherwise you are constantly chasing your tail. Sometimes I look at all I have achieved and amaze myself! : o)

  2. Love the sign/crop rotation idea. I’ve diligently drawn up plans mid winter only to find them well after I’ve planted! Perfect. That’s my new plan. Something I live about the changing nature of the garden. There’s never a failure as such, simply a learning curve….

    1. Crop rotation can be such a complex thing so I was stoked when I figured out it can be as easy as moving everything clockwise. The garden is certainly always teaching me things. : o)

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