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Pandemic fatigue and getting the season started

 
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I find myself struggling with the motivation to get my garden started this year.

My garden bed plans are not been drafted. My tomatoes shpuld be seeded this week but I'm procrastinating. Local organic seed providers have been sold out for weeks, so I don't have the excitement of looking for something new to grow (but I have enough seeds saved or leftover to make a nice enough garden).

I'm even finding hard to raise motivation for the school garden I'm volunteering at (they want to build an outdoor classroom, which is absolutely awesome and should get me excited... But all I can see is the enormous work of getting the garden to survive with a skeleton crew and complex covid guidelines)

I guess this is a mix of not wanting to compete for resources with excited beginners (I'm all for people getting into gardening though!) and having had enough of "turning inwards" and wanting to travel, go camping, etc. (We're only at 12% vaccination rates here, so not happening soon)

I pushed myself to get the garden beds cleaned and protected from stray cats yesterday. That helped a bit. But I worried how the season will go if I start so disillusioned.

Anyone else feeling burnt out?
 
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I am certainly on the sluggish side.   I am being covered up by the disasters of the moment.  My planned projects simply are not getting done.
 
pollinator
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I'm also blergh this year, not sure why the pandemic hasn't really affected us at all, infact I see more people now than I ever did due to volanteer work. I also ordered my seeds back in november before brexit and before any shortages occured, so appart from a few onions and some other things I have forgotten I have everything I need.

But still I look at the weeds and go urgh I havn't done my plans, I havn't even written up last years and I normally love doing that over winter.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Skandi

I was fortunate enough to order my seeds late last fall.
 
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Hi Kena - I hear you. This pandemic has been like trying to see the tide move in - you know it's out there, you know it might get you, but there's no stopping it, mostly sad things you're told do to avoid it, and it can easily give one a sense of powerlessness.

What can you do to regain a sense of hope and ease the sense of burnout? If it were me, I'd do a few of the following (which I've already done some of...)

1. Scope out a sunny sheltered spot you can access at the heat of the day, put a chair there and as soon as the sun comes out, make a cup of cheery tea (Mango's nice and a bit special) or therapeutic tea (permies herb forum might help) and soak up that sun. If it's warm enough, get as much skin showing as you can although it's probably still too soon to make our own Vit D if you're as far north as I am (Southern BC).
2. Make some bone broth with dandelion greens, parsley, lot's of herbs you like (walking onion, marjoram, ginger, garlic) and make a warming soup with it.
3. Do some gentle yoga.
4. Get a *really* funny book out of the library and read it - second best, just look for funny jokes on the internet.
5. Read more here on permies - particularly projects people have done - and see if that gives your brain some inspiration.

Then for the work: 1. Look at seed companies on-line. Choose a couple of things you think would be fun to try. Then post about it on permies and see if you can find someone who might have those seeds to share, and figure out from your own stash, what you could send back. If it's sharing, it's *not* competing for resources, just like plants and fungi share sugar and nutrients.
2. Post pictures/diagrams of your garden and get input as to what to put where - nothing like others enthusiasm to help inspire me! *Don't* feel guilty - lots of people have asked for that kind of input and received genuine support, encouragement and good ideas.
3. Look around the web for some artsy, creative, smile-inducing project for your garden and try building it. Ideally at least a little useful. Something like a bean tepee? Is there a place you can walk and look for long branches you could cut for it? Learn the proper tripod knot (internet will show you) for the first 3 sticks, then keep adding, leaving a door. If it were me, I'd park it on my front lawn to confuse the neighbors. You might be able to plant peas on it before the beans? Seeing the reaction of others may help if they're positive or even, "Huh?" I'd plant Scarlet Runner Beans and tell the neighbors it's my self-refilling Hummingbird feeder - we've got a *lot* of hummingbirds in my area and they adore SR bean flowers.

Hopefully, some of my suggestions will give you ideas of your own that will help - hang in there!
 
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I'm right there with you. Last year was a mess between the weird weather patterns, increased pest and disease pressure, and lack of income/resources. I'm still feeling behind from last season and have so much more work to do this year to get my production up. I've already lost two rounds of seedlings because we lost water, so that's adding to the doom and gloom. Other than a couple of random warm days (which caused all of my turnips to bolt before getting thicker than a pencil) the weather has been stereotypically cold and wet, and without a bath or heat to come into it's a tough proposition to get out and work in that mess... and there's limited stuff I can do with the soil so waterlogged, even if we get an occasional sunny day. I know my garden will get there in a few years, but it feels like an impossible slog to get there.

I know (or hope) that it will get better as the days get longer and things warm up, but I feel like I'm missing a lot of my early season stuff because the conditions are garbage. I feel like I might have to skip some of the early season stuff in order to give my full attention to things later in the season. I know that things just get crazier as the season progresses, so I'm worried what it means if they're this crazy already.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. I just got my first chestnut sprout, which I'm pretty stoked about. I was able to pick some morels that I totally didn't expect to find. I started about a hundred pomegranate seeds. My greens and peas finally started popping up... I put the greens in a spot that gets a lot of shade so that they won't bolt super early, but it means it took them almost a month to germinate. I'm trying to celebrate the small wins, but it doesn't eliminate the fact that I've got a lot of work ahead of me and don't know how I'm going to get it all done.
 
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I hit burnout near the end of last summer and have struggled to regain much sense of motivation or optimism ever since. The stresses of the pandemic accelerated this—as an educator, it has made my working life extremely stressful—but I am realizing there were a number of underlying factors already present in my life, and I have a broader need to simplify, refocus, and clarify what I am trying to achieve.

A part of the burnout came because our garden is still relatively new (this is our third year on the property) and was not very successful last year. Working super hard to get very little is no fun.

For me, a measure of new energy has come through two things: (1) I really simplified my garden plan this year so I could focus on a few things that will be easy and rewarding to grow; no experimentation this year, no complicated polycultures of many crops; more investment in compost than in new seeds; (2) we have a few things coming into bearing (cherries, apples, figs) for the first time, and that is really energizing.

I really recommend Carol Deppe's book The Resilient Gardener for ideas on how to set your garden up to deal with these times. The big takeaway for me has been to find as many ways as possible to conserve my limited energy and to be productive in those moments where I'm feeling ready to go. Hoping for some new energy for everybody as the pandemic (crossed fingers) winds down and spring comes on.
 
pioneer
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For me I was feeling burnt out in mid February.  I took vacation but the weather was cold and the threat of losing gas and electricity was hard.  The biggest issue for me about the pandemic is it is always in the background. If one has a bad day at work it is over when the day ends. It does not follow you home but the pandemic seems to follow everywhere. So I began to think about what I really wanted to watch, eat and drink. So I found movies that I liked and food to make. My only thought was if it is fun and something easy to do then do it. For a strange reason watching the TV show M*A*S*H* helps me out. I do not know why. More to the point finding time to have fun is in my view the key to finding motivation.  
 
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Add me to the list of yes votes.

So many reasons in addition to pandemic fatigue. Tired of the rain, not enough sunshine this winter. Miss my family and friends. Delayed manure application to test for herbicides, so it's wait and see for another week or so. Waiting for permits to clear to start home build.

The list goes on.

I like the ideas being shared about enjoying being out. Saturday was the first nice weekend day we've had in months. I worked on my project list and it was glorious to DO and chip away and things for several hours.

But then I just wandered and observed. Listened to the hawks' call. Took pictures of bees enjoying the early spring blooms. Sat and watched the deer stand and watch me... And then move on.

It was perfect.
 
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I'm over it, too. My family is pretty much ready to put a fork in it, because it's so done. Between those who are vaccinated and those who refuse, the gulf is impassable. I decided to say forget gardening this year. Last year I grew a bunch of corn and tomatoes and ended up just giving it all away, because of all the food from work. I've got tons of eggs from the chickens, tons of free food from work, tons of wild edibles, and tons of fresh figs in august, muscadine grapes in september/october. Gardening is not my speed. Watering every day in parts of summer is not worth the payoff. I much prefer planting fruit trees/vines, ONCE, harvesting from nut trees, and eating lawn greens and work food :D.  
 
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Everyone is sick of this shit. I'm not used to watching/reading news, and this has definitely confirmed my view on the subject. Too munch "information", especially when it's made to exploit your anxiety to get more clicks and attentions out of you is a problem. Go on a news diet. If the world ends, somebody will tell you for sure. Maybe just read news once a week, for 10 minutes, so you have the most important information, and only that.

Procrastination is a complex issue. A lot can cause it: anxiety, perfectionism, fear, fatigue... You have a WHOLE garden to plant, and you also have a big volunteering activity. How do you eat an elephant ? One bite at a time. Right now, get something out. Put dirt in your gardening pots. Add some seeds, water it a bit. Congratulation, you've finished your work for today. Then tomorrow, you'll do something else, something small, but something.

Another thing that might help, is this. What will your garden look like when summer is here ? How big will be your plants ? How colorful, how  tasteful will it all be ? All the birds around are going to visit your garden, how will they sing like ? What will your wonderful tomatoes taste like ? Visualize that for a while. Put in as many sensation as you can. Repeat a few time a day.

Scaling down might help too. Rome wasn't built in a day. Perhaps do a bit less this year, or don't do one of your usual activity if it's a bit too tiring, so you have more energy for the rest. You have to consider gardening as a part of a whole, not a separate part of your life. It affect, and is affected by everything else in your life.
 
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It has been quite the opposite for me!

I was quite depressed just before the pandemic hit. Fourties, you know? I will not enumerate all things that troubled me, but let's just say I'm a peak oil believer just when the peak was showing. Permaculture videos came to me like a ray of hope and I included them into my obsessions. Then the pandemic hit, and since I'm the kind of person who worries about everything, I felt very anxious on top of the slight depression. I knew things weren't right in my head, so I took a meditation course. That helped, more later. Then I found the people of the nearest urban garden. Actually I was in contact just before the lockdowns, but I had to wait until the lockdows were over to meet in person.
They were in a pretty bad shape, both the people and the garden. They had lost their water source (it was taken from the municipality without permission!!), they had lost many members from the pandemic terror, others just lost hope on a waterless garden, others were in it only for the social meetings, which we can do no longer. I offered them my slice of permaculture knowledge and a purpose to make a dryland garden work. It took some time, but now we have a small group of enthusiast gardeners and very small garden beds that support just a few crops without irrigation. That's how excited I was. So much, that my wife had to put limits on me, because I was too involved in her opinion, and my family needed some love and attention in a time where mobility is restricted (no visits to friends, no restaurants, almost no children parks was taking its toll, especially to my wife's nerves). This limitation is not that bad, as it is giving my gardener colleages some room to cooperate, so I don't do everything myself.
I think that working in the garden was like a saviour table to my spirits. Not being locked inside the house helped a lot, also the exercise and being surrounded by plants (thirsty thirsty plants). Getting yields is a rather minor thing in comparison, so I am quite content with my meager harvest of radishes and wilds.

The meditation course was pretty good. After the vipassana breathing meditation, the teacher was changing the meditation foci until we arrived at what he called outrospection, meditating on the outside. This kind of meditation is exactly what Permaculture first point is about! Observe nature (as it is). To not try to understand it, just to observe and let your inner self listen to the spirit of the place, the conscience of that ecosystem.
In this course there were a few more things that helped. I learned to skip the news about pandemics, not all of them, just a few, to prevent overwhelming. I learned to stop using the internet browser in my smartphone and raising the head while walking, which became easier thanks to meditation. I learned the importance of perseverance, to keep doing what you want to do when you don't feel like doing it. It's a good thing to meditate on the perseverance issue, so you really internalize the idea. And I learned a few breathing tricks for raising and lowering energy levels.
One of these breathing tricks might be helpful to you. Inhale strongly and fast, then exhale in short and fast hits. It's like saying: " Hooossh hap hap hap hap hap hap.... hooossh hap hap hap hap hap hap hap....". Do this four or five times and you are ready to do whatever you wanted to do. It works the same way that putting a smile on your face makes you slightly happier.

 
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We're headed into fall, and it is even more depressing. The fatigue of dealing with this situation (here it is at the worst it's been so far.... and it's been a year) is just so exhausting.
But, I put in my fall plants last week. I've gotten myself on an exercise schedule, which for my own mental health is absolutely necessary. Got a few crazy projects lined up (since on the weekend we are still in lockdown and have to stick around).

I would suggest seeing what you can do that will jump start a smile- if that means going and finding a sunny daffodil to put somewhere you see right when you look out the window, that might do it. Stick a few beans in a container on your windowsill just to see something hopeful and growing and remind you why you do this.
And last- look for a buddy! Sounds like your community garden thing is a lot of work. Can you team up with someone and you can motivate each other?
 
Mike Lafay
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Tereza Okava wrote:We're headed into fall, and it is even more depressing. The fatigue of dealing with this situation (here it is at the worst it's been so far.... and it's been a year) is just so exhausting.
But, I put in my fall plants last week. I've gotten myself on an exercise schedule, which for my own mental health is absolutely necessary. Got a few crazy projects lined up (since on the weekend we are still in lockdown and have to stick around).

I would suggest seeing what you can do that will jump start a smile- if that means going and finding a sunny daffodil to put somewhere you see right when you look out the window, that might do it. Stick a few beans in a container on your windowsill just to see something hopeful and growing and remind you why you do this.
And last- look for a buddy! Sounds like your community garden thing is a lot of work. Can you team up with someone and you can motivate each other?



Fall was though on the mind in my hemisphere. Working out, doing some exercise, watching what you eat is essential. It's too easy to get in a vicious circle, being anxious and depressed, acting on short term to try to manage those feelings, instead of soothing them and sticking to positive goals. The more you tell 'why bother' and let things fall apart, the harder it'll be to pick yourself up.

Seeing other people is a must. Virus or not. If you're not above 60, the virus will very probably do nothing to you (unless of course you are diabetic, obese, immuno-compromised etc); but depression, isolation will surely get you if you're not careful
 
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Kena said "I find myself struggling with the motivation to get my garden started this year.



It is easy to want to stay in our comfort zones ...

Is that what we want?

If I am not excited about gardening, I don't garden.

I find something that I can find exciting.

Permies is the perfect place to get lost.

Then if I want to get motivated about gardening then I look for some threads on permies that might motivate me like these:

https://permies.com/t/21211/art/Garden-picture-exchange

https://permies.com/t/134480/signs-spring-coming

https://permies.com/t/153092/SPRING-SPRING-SPRING-SPRING-months
 
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Hi Kena,

I’ve generally found, when motivation is lacking, the more I try to motivate myself the more I lack the motivation to do it. Perhaps it is guilt sapping my energy.

Anyway, I imagine you are in a somewhat similar position. So, my advice would be to stop thinking about your garden and look for a new hobby or interest. Not permanently, just to add a bit of spice to your life. In fact, it might be as simple as trying out a new spice in the kitchen.

You might say ‘but I really have to do something in the garden’. The reality is you are not doing it, so you might as well enjoy doing something else.

Regarding the school, you’re a volunteer right? If so, you’re not obliged to pull out all the stops. Is there anyone else you can lean on here?
 
Kena Landry
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Helen Butt wrote:Regarding the school, you’re a volunteer right? If so, you’re not obliged to pull out all the stops. Is there anyone else you can lean on here?



I guess that's part of the pressure/guilt. I'm the lead volunteer - every year I manage to find a few parents willing to pitch in, but it's never enough. And with the pandemic, communication with the school team is worst than ever (We parents try to take a support role and let the teachers/kids lead the garden planning/exciting stuff, and pitching in for harder/boring jobs).

But at home, at least, I've started a few seedlings (tomatoes and greens). I could have done more, but it will be a start. And I think I'll focus on just a few fundamental crops this year, and not attempt any ambitious new projects.
 
Helen Butt
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Ah yes, I see how easy it is to feel guilty!!
 
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Personally I do not understand Covid Fatigue - I love that I have a reason to stay home, stay away from civilization, shops etc.  I love only going to town for medical appointments or groceries only.  I love having an excuse to say "no".  I love not having to explain the "why" of my preferences to not socialize.  I love not wasting money because I don't go to town.  I love being home to see the birds and critters prepare for spring.  I love that there was no "flu season" because everyone wore masks, social distanced and/or stayed home.  I love doing less laundry because I some days I don't bother to "dress".  I find I am doing MORE as far as planting/garden planning than ever before...I do not wish this pandemic or the virus on anyone, but for me it has been a wonderful release from daily social demands and pressures.
 
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:Personally I do not understand Covid Fatigue - I love that I have a reason to stay home, stay away from civilization, shops etc.  I love only going to town for medical appointments or groceries only.  I love having an excuse to say "no".  I love not having to explain the "why" of my preferences to not socialize.  I love not wasting money because I don't go to town.  I love being home to see the birds and critters prepare for spring.  I love that there was no "flu season" because everyone wore masks, social distanced and/or stayed home.  I love doing less laundry because I some days I don't bother to "dress".  I find I am doing MORE as far as planting/garden planning than ever before...I do not wish this pandemic or the virus on anyone, but for me it has been a wonderful release from daily social demands and pressures.



I don't mean to sound as if I am gushing but for me...I feel the same as you do :-)
Perhaps it may sound as if I am full of myself but I am NOT!
My way of thinking is this: as long as I am physically able, can take care of my physical/physiological/biological/ personal/  needs, ALL IS GREAT. I have so many hobbies, things I want to learn, things I want to try through this website and its contributing people and YouTube....I don't ever feel down, depressed or lonely.
Aside from that....
My herb/vegetable gardening attempt last year was devastating due to wet weather, early frost and snow :-( But on the plus side.... my perennial flower beds were awesome. I seem to have good luck with flowers than vegetables. Beats me!? LOL  
So THIS YEAR, NOW, my tomato seedling look healthy  under growing lights indoor, and I will add protection cover when I plant them in my raised beds that I build last spring. And a protection cover for few of my favorite herbs.
I will not plant peppers, cucumbers or carrots this year. The growing season is too unpredictable and it gets colder with each coming year.
If all fails...so be it. I am l privileged to share my life with my 4 legged companion that always brings smile to my face and happiness as only a dog can do (for me).

I am trying to grow (indoors) seeds of Datura (white and purple flower variety).  


So..., I may say this to anyone who's feeling under weather;  lets not despair. Do one thing you want and like to do, versus something you "have to" do regarding gardening. Don't spread yourself too thin. While volunteering is a noble thing to do, it's important to take care of yourself first, before others. It's a lot more  filling to eat a full slice of bread, than to fill up on breadcrumbs :-)
Thank you :-)





 
gardener
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I see some great advice on here, but i missed taking herbal medicine which i take when i feel blue. St John’s worth or Hypericum Perforatum it’s called and it works great for me.
There are a lot of volunteers at the minute. Young people stuck in the cities looking for a cheap holiday. It might be an option for some people who are not too down.
Summer always comes anyway and being late has avoided worrying about late freezes. I’ve got to get a lot of start ups in today. Freeze is gonna come!
 
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If the pandemic has affected me at all (and I'm an introvert), it's gotten me started back into gardening more.  Mainly because as people say, we are living in uncertain times.  Sure, I know I could NOT survive on only what grows here, but the fresh vegetables and fruits are a wonderful supplement to what we buy from grocery stores.  I have teeth that are wearing down, so hey, masks are great.    I made my own masks at the start of this whole thing, and they're still being used, about every month or two when we venture out into the great rest of the world.  I read a LOT.  Novels.  Just finished Thackeray's Henry Esmond which if not for the pandemic and with access to the library, would probably have languished, unread, on my shelf forever.  Presently reading a bunch of old Ian Fleming James Bond novels.  I LIKE getting packages delivered rather than having to go out and buy things, tho' prices are definitely higher.  I've been voraciously reading news, news, news, online, too.   But I'm retired and have lots of time.  And not big on guilt.  
Abraham Palma, love the breathing advice!  I tried it;  I hope to remember to do that a few times at least daily.  One thing I'd read about the thymus gland (chest below the base of throat) is that it's good for "stress relief" to tap your thymus with a loose fist.  
 
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