A colleague of mine recently spent the entire weekend completing intense yoga training.  I am not sure what one does for 8 hours a day in yoga class, but she was motivated and completed the exercises.  When she came into the office on Monday, she was full of energy and focused on paying attention to some details that frankly the team had been letting slide over the past year.  When I asked her about this new direction, she smiled and repeated a lesson learned over the weekend:

We need to Reset to Zero.

After thinking about this simple statement, I realized that she was absolutely right.  Whether it is your relationships, your career, your interests and/or even your hobbies like gardening, now is a great time to take stock in what you have, what you are doing, where you are going and ask yourself: can I reset to zero and improve myself or this situation for the better?

As this relates to gardening, I have done a lot of thinking about the property and what I am trying to grow.  I am a renter, and being a gardener and a renter seems like it shouldn’t mix well.  After all, I think the current owner and management company would get upset if I cut down all the trees, tilled up the entire backyard and started planting veggies and grapevines.  I certainly wouldn’t get my security deposit back!  I needed to develop planter boxes that do not destroy the property and can be easily moved (well, relatively easily moved).

Additionally, the owner, management company and previous tenants did not manage the backyard very well, and what once was a beautiful landscape was overgrown with weeds, grass, rotted wood, cut weeds and a dying pine tree.

The corner of the yard was an overgrown eyesore, and it was where the Wild Things lived.

Ok, that might be a little dramatic, but the corner was an absolute mess and was home to a pile of rabbits and other critters.  It was our Wild Corner that was frankly a bit of a mess.  With a little blood, sweat and elbow grease, I cleared the corner. I filled a more than a dozen bags full of rotted wood, cut and discarded branches and old weeds that had been piled up by someone years ago.  I cut down the dead pine tree and disposed of the wood and branches, trimmed up the cedar trees and dogwood and weeded.

Wild Corner Before

Wild Corner Before

Wild Corner - After

Wild Corner – After




My son and I moved the planters into place, I positioned the planters where I wanted them (including the boards for the 14-foot box and 8-foot box), and I was ready to start planting.

Or was I?

As I looked at the planters I had constructed last year, my smaller planter that traveled north from Illinois and the new 14-foot and 8-foot planter boxes I was about to build, a thought occurred to me:

You need to Reset to Zero.

Something wasn’t quite right, and I had to stop for a minute and rethink everything.  I knew I was having some drainage problems with the two elevated boxes I constructed last year.  The box that I moved from Illinois was also showing some wear, and I wanted to make that box a little wider (for onions). Additionally, the 14-foot long box and 8-foot long box I was about to construct needed to some attention before I dropped soil into it.  I was realizing that moist soil and weather takes a toll on wood, and I wanted to prepare the wood before I completed the box and got on with it.

So, I shoveled the soil out of the 4-foot boxes and looked at their condition.  I had used plywood to serve as the bottom of the boxes, and the wood was holding in too much moisture.  Since the water wasn’t draining, the soil was too wet, and plants would struggle.  In addition, the boxes, which were a year old, were showing signs of mildew and early signs of rot.  I had to remove the plywood and come up with a new solution for the boxes.

Planter Boxes - Reset to Zero

As I took the boxes apart, I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to adjust, modify and reconstruct these 4-foot boxes so they would function as a larger 8-foot unit for my pepper plants.  I also realized that since these boxes were standing on soil, I needed to lower their center of gravity, which would help the stability of the boxes while allowing the plants to grow taller (using a T-frame system I built last year).

While it probably is a lot of extra work, I am feeling very good about the changes I am making to the Wild Corner and my planters. Stopping for a minute, resetting to zero and doing the extra work will pay off in the end.  Take a minute and give it a try.  You’ll never know how something can go from eyesore to great and how you can use your small space to maximize your impact!


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