I've been reading The Power of Less by Leo Babauta, of Zen Habits, this week, and reevaluating all my farm projects in light of his mantra: Do Less. Get More Done. This summer was one of great expansion for me in terms of tripling my garden square footage, and it was also a complete disaster from a crop-and-garden-yield perspective.
True, much of that was due to weather - we have had the coolest, rainiest summer in quite a while on the East Coast, and my friends and neighbors have likewise very little to show for their garden work this season - but it was also at least partly due to my choice to vastly expand my garden area and space my plants widely, as I tried to make up for poor soil that I just didn't have the time or resources to amend.
I've learned my lesson. This weekend, I'll be pulling up my green tomatoes and wrapping the fruit in newspaper, digging my blighted potatoes, and yanking onions to let them cure in the ridge of high pressure that has graced us with its presence for the next few days. If my new less-is-more life will accommodate it, I'll build a raised bed for fall greens for our family. I'll donate dozens of eggs to the local food bank so I don't end up composting them because I don't have time to seek out new people to trade with or new markets for my eggs. And, I'll till and plant a cover crop on my massive failed garden, and think about planting garlic there this fall, potatoes and onions next spring - and growing a small kitchen garden in raised beds. I'll put my focus into other areas - and maybe only one or two things!
How can you do less, yet still achieve as much (maybe even more)? How can you work smarter, with more focus, and make the impact on your farm (and beyond) greater? Harvest time seems to be a good time to pull back and reevaluate. We're also cleaning out our shop, shed and house, purging excess "stuff" that has accumulated over year, and that seems to free up energy to look at other ways that less can truly be more.