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From the Gardening Journals

I worked hard to turn my garden into a system of sorts. I have a potting station with an always-ready assortment of potting/soil materials. I have pots of every size. I have work gloves and knee pads and hand shovels scattered throughout the garden. I have a working compost pile. I have a host of volunteer vegetables that spring up without me asking: green wave mustard (waves and waves of it), Chinese kale, tomatoes (I've had to tear out two dozen volunteer tomato plants this year), lettuce.

Although the garden still takes up a lot of time, the bulk of the produce "just comes," without nearly the amount of effort that I had to put in during my first seven years of gardening.

And when I need to do something, everything is right there.

It's handy. Last weekend, my 11-year-old daughter wanted to repot a little tree into a bigger pot. I took her to the potting station, picked out a bigger pot with her, put in some potting mix, popped the little tree out of its little pot and stuck it in, then filled in the rest of the container with the potting mix. Total time: Less than five minutes.

She was excited to get her tree into a bigger pot; she was even more delighted when it took virtually no effort. I told her, "Well, we didn't have to search for a pot or go to a store to buy decent potting mix. That makes all gardening jobs pretty easy."

Now I know why handymen (among whose ranks I am not) like to have a well-organized and stocked tool area. The actual jobs normally aren't bad, but the headache of getting all the prep work is otherwise daunting.