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To-do list

2013 June 26


I’ve become a list-maker. When this development occurred, I have no idea. I used to abhor lists: they’re rigid (do this do that bossy boss); they’re accusatory (the grass won’t mow itself, ya know); they’re judgmental (you crossed nothing off me today — fail, you failure!).

I had a bear-trap of a memory in my younger days. I have a degree in math, and freshman year meant you took the super rigorous Calculus for Engineers course — the “weed out” class that met 5 days a week for a year and a half. The back of the 1,500 page textbook listed 105 derivative formulas. My classmates devised all sorts of clever cheat sheets for test days — me, I hiked up my stone-washed jeans and memorized them. All 105. For folks who never had to endure the trials of calculus — or who have thoroughly flushed it from their memory — this is a derivative formula:


One of 105.

(Considering that now I can’t even remember where my phone is half the time — I finally had to take the ringer off vibrate so I could hear the device when I called it — even I’m impressed by my younger self.)

So, lists were unnecessary for a large portion of my life. Math trained my brain to be analytical, diligent, and organized. I scoffed at lists, and obsessive makers thereof. I don’t need no stinkin’ lists.

But, I’m more than half of my life away from that math whiz and the rigid training of university. I misplace my keys and my DSL camera battery charger regularly. (I have three battery chargers, actually, as I’ve lost old/purchased new/found old/lost receipt on several occasions.) My doctor tells me it’s a normal part of aging — I, however, am appalled (“Aging?” Who’s “aging”? Yo mama, that’s who’s aging, Dr. Condescending Whippersnapper.). So, I’ve made a necessary but uneasy peace with lists, thanks to technology.

I’ve come to rely on the “Our Groceries” shopping list app so heavily, it scares me. That app counts for about 75% of my lost phone panic: OMG, my shopping list is on. my. phone.! Gah!” (Unnecessary panic, I might add, because you can access your list from any device. And no, Our Groceries is not sponsoring this post — I’m simply addicted to it.)

I’ve also recently settled on Google Tasks for my master to-do lists. I love the calendar format: much less intimidating than an endlessly long checklist, which makes me feel defeated before I even begin. I can look at today, and the week ahead, and absorb only what I need in the moment.


Not surprisingly, garden tasks pepper my to-do list all through summer. Here’s some of what I’ll be adding to my quickly-filling Google Tasks as we wrap up June and plunge head-long into super-busy July.



All tomato plants are growing at impressive rates — most over 5 feet tall already — all plants have blooms and fruit, and a mid-July ripe tomato is almost guaranteed (Cherokee Purple likely to be the first).

  • Must reinforce fencing and extend vertical supports to 15 feet on the cherries. Do now while I can still get a ladder near the supports.
  • Create slip-on bird netting pockets to protect early-ripening beauties from the evil clutches of the King of Chipmunks. This worked last year; crossed-fingers for a repeat success
  • Begin prophylactic fungicide regimen on tomato plants. Actinovate ordered: check. Copper fungicide ordered: check. New sprayer ordered: check. Arrives this week, thanks to Amazon Prime.


Plant the last of the bee attractors

  • Black-eyed Susans. Aren’t they gorgeous?



  • Finish pruning the basil garden (to produce vigorous growth through the summer)
  • Make lots of pesto with the trimmed leaves.
  • Freeze lots of pesto.
  • Eat lots of pesto. (Man, it’s awesome being a home gardener.)



Deal with the flea beetle infestation on my eggplants. (Sigh)



  • Sow the next succession of pickling cucumber seeds. I’m determined to have a wall of cucumbers this year. I literally want people to stop and stare in wonder, looking up and down and left and right, and gasp, “OMG, that is a wall of cucumbers!”
  • Install cucumber fencing the size of a wall. (I’m optimistic this is totally going to happen, despite last year’s issues with disease and slugs.)


Rejoice in the progress of the blood orange tree

After doing practically nothing last year, my blood orange tree is finally tossing out tons of healthy new growth. Really hoping for oranges this year.


Community garden

I took over the management of a 24-plot community garden this year. In addition to plots planted by families in our community, we also intensively plant 600 square feet of produce that serves two non-profits.

  • Schedule meeting with grounds manager to go over composting plan;
  • Finalize the July/August planting schedule for the fall food pantry garden plots
  • Create volunteer schedule for harvesting and delivery of produce to the pantry. Deliveries will need to happen twice weekly, once summer produce hits its stride.
  • Rain barrel maintenance
  • Mulch the shared herb garden I just installed. Was hoping not to have to do this, but the last two over-the-top hot days have shown it’s necessary.


Plant these babies

Apparently, I’m a sucker for both stray animals and stray plants. Rescued these butternuts and cantaloupes from certain death at the nursery. A little love and care, and they’ve greened up and resumed sprouting. They’ll go in the community garden’s food pantry plots.



  • Continue research on permaculture and local land-use and zoning laws.
  • Big ideas. Big. Need more input.



  • Slow down and enjoy the beauty of the garden — it’s so fleeting.
  • The dill blooms are spectacular this year — like yellow fireworks. Take lots of photos.
  • Breathe. Be grateful.
  • Embrace the to-do list and use it right. It can be a guilt-inducing burden, or a roadmap to achieving goals.


4 Responses
  1. Darlynne permalink
    June 26, 2013

    Wow, that’s a to-do list, and then some. I am so impressed with the calculus, but even more with all you’re doing for the community garden, not to mention your own garden. Well done.

    And thanks to your younger self for the tip about using the calendar app on my phone for, sheesh, a calendar. I’ve been moaning about all the apps I never use and can’t get rid of, but that’s one I could put to good use. Maybe there’s hope for me.

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      June 27, 2013

      I’ve looked at so many to-do apps – and they’re all some version of a checklist, those long, line-item lists, which I just can’t do. The calendar format totally works for me, and I like that “Tasks” doesn’t assign an appt time – it just adds it to the day. If I don’t get to one item, I can drag it to another day (a huge advantage over a paper calendar). I already use Google calendar, so Tasks slid smoothly into my planning habits.

  2. June 26, 2013

    I can’t believe you majored in math….and memorized all those formulas! Geesh…I hated math, still do and was NEVER good at it. But I’m totally a list person. Even tho I have a good memory, it makes me feel better to get the list out of my head and onto paper. That way I’m not constantly thinking about it – makes life a little less stressful, dont ya think?

    • Karen @ Leaf & Grain permalink*
      June 27, 2013

      It’s definitely a personal preference situation. I know listmakers who live and die by their lists. It works for them. In the office supply section, I can’t even look at those long narrow pads of list making notes without cringing. I just can’t do “lists.” I can do calendars, though. :)

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