Wrong tool for the job

wrong tool for the job

So it’s Thursday, I have the day off work, so I do some weeding in the polytunnel: but with the wrong tool for the job. Goodbye, broken trowel. Hello, blistered hand.

Hello world

So you’ll all remember that we put the polytunnel up during last year, you know, mid pandemic year here in the UK. I’d planned to spend the winter getting it ready for spring. I was maybe even thinking about bravely overwintering a few hardy seedings if I had my shit together.

I did not have my shit together.

In fact, I was slowly burning out due to chronic stress. Stress from the pandemic. Inherent stress from work (not from my job specifically, but I work in healthcare). Stress from other people’s stress and needing to be there for them.

But I kept going because that’s what I do. I made it all the way to early April by basically dotting the t’s and crossing the i’s on every single day between January 1st and April 1st. But eventually I realised that keeping going wasn’t working. I took a couple of days to take stock. On April 2nd I signed up to a coaching course to sort myself out properly.

Here we are, April 29th, and I’m back with a clearer headspace and increased resilience. So, hello world.

Hello polytunnel

Back to the polytunnel. And sure, we also chose to overwinter our chickens in it because of the mandatory housing order. The UK had problems with bird flu, in case I needed anything else at all to be stressed about!

Anyway, it’s not too weedy out there, because the sprinklers haven’t been on. The chickens pecked out and ate most of the ground cover that was left. Only the hardy survivors remain, particularly in the middle where the ground is dry. Or at the edge where there’s surface water run off. Docks, mostly, with the occasional dandelion.

I have some time off work so I went out this afternoon and got about half of the tunnel weeded. I listen to a podcast in one ear and the birds with the other ear. That’s the way I like to work in the garden.

Wrong tool for the job

Like most times, when I feel inspired, I feel inspired. Without thinking I picked up the first gardening tool that seemed like it would do the job. A trowel. Probably a planting trowel, now that I come to think about it.

Should I have been using a planting trowel for weeding?

Well, now of course I’m going to say “no” but a couple of hours earlier I’d have absently said “a trowel is a trowel is a trowel”.

It was totally the wrong tool for the job.

After about an hour I realised I had a blister on the palm of my hand. I was wearing gloves and didn’t notice at first. The rounded end of the trowel was encouraging me to shift pressure on it as I was levering roots out.

I blithely changed my grip and carried out.

Yes, that’s right. Good spot. Once more I kept going because that’s what I do.

And then those big hardy survivor weeds in the middle I was talking about earlier? Yeah. One of those big tough dock roots wasn’t shifting, and the trowel sheared off a little bit.

And that’s when again I realised that keeping going wasn’t working.

Taking stock

It’s hard sometimes to evaluate things when you’re not thinking straight, or you just want to get on with things and hope it will all fix itself.

It’s also really easy to look back and say we should have acted otherwise. Like “oh, I should have gotten more help when I realised I was stressed in December”. Or “I have a carbon steel Japanese style digging knife that has never let me down yet…”

But as I said, it’s hard when you’re in the middle of something to step back and recognise you’re using the wrong tool for the job.

At least I’ve realised better ways to go forward from here.

wrong tool for the job

Wrong tool for the job


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