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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Productive Hobby

The last week or two, I've been working on planting our fall garden. I really dislike that being a gardener means that for some of my moments, I'm not just living in the present but have to think ahead to the next season. Right now, even though we don't have even one full month of summer behind us, I have to think about autumn meals. This is bit of a drag, because I just want to revel in summer. I don't want to think about chilly days, thick sweaters, and lots of rain and clouds. I want to think about the beach, sunshine, the farmer's market, and cookouts.

But, when you're the food producer of the family, you have to think ahead. Otherwise, come October, I might come up short in the fresh produce department.

So, what have I been planning for an autumn garden? In spring, I planted Brussel sprouts, potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash, all veggies which I expect will mature in fall. This week and last I started the fall kale, lettuce, Swiss chard, cauliflower, bunching onions, and beets. By the end of the month, I'll also add turnips to our fall veggies. And by mid-August, I'll seed more spinach and radishes.

Keeping a  kitchen garden is my job, it's a hobby, as well as a hedge against emergency food insecurity. I've mentioned that it often feels like food is my J.O.B. It's not my entire job, but it is my responsibility for my family to always have food on hand, whether it's by shopping or growing. As a hobby, my kitchen garden is something that provides a satisfying personal challenge with tangible rewards. When my husband and I were young and dirt poor, we didn't have the finances for fun, but frivolous hobbies. So we chose hobbies that would be productive. Growing vegetables was one of my chosen hobbies. 

As it turns out, this productive "hobby" is also a big part of our emergency contingency plan. This past year and a half has shown us that the future is never certain. We can think we'll be employed until we determine our retirement. But that can change as an economy shifts or physical or mental ability decline before we planned. The last 18 months has energized my desire to make our yard as productive as it can be. What I can say for this year's garden is that I have tried harder with all of the garden than in previous years. That may or may not result is the biggest harvest yet for me. But I have tried my hardest and used the sum of my experience, so far, in hopes of producing a large harvest. As for the future, I hope I never stop learning how to make our yard more productive. The learning aspect is the challenge for me, which is what makes keeping a garden as much of a hobby as it is my job.


The good news about my focus on planting for an autumn harvest these last two weeks is that now that's mostly behind me and I can transition back to summer thoughts. I think it's time to make a batch of ice cream. 

How about you? What's your favorite "productive" hobby?

9 comments:

  1. Good question. I don't consider myself having lots of hobbies, not regular ones anyway. But if I had to choose, I'd say it's along the same lines as yours. While raising food is interesting, I would say that even more, I like adding interest to our yard. I do this mostly by moving plants and trading plants with friends. Since this is a new yard for us, there is a lot to do in this area.

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    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I find that to be fun and interesting, as well, the planning and moving plants around. It seems I'm always finding a new and better spot for different plants.

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  2. I think my most productive hobby is knitting. Although I'm not an advanced knitter, I always have needles and yarn at the ready for when hubs and I watch our hour of TV at night or when we read (he reads outloud and I knit) I also love puttering in the yard

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    1. Hi Ruthie,
      I envy you. I'm a very slow knitter, so it's not terribly fun for me. I wish I'd learned as a girl. I think it would be easier now if I had. Your evenings of knitting while your husband reads aloud sound charming.

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  3. Hmm. Not sure. I guess I'd say cooking and baking. I've always enjoyed baking and have learned to like cooking in recent years. I like that I can put tasty and wholesome food on the table and that my family is fed not only physically, but in our relationships to one another. I'm one of those increasingly rare people who thinks it's important for all of us to sit down together and share a meal on a regular basis. It helps if people are enthusiastic about what I'm serving so I've tried to up my game in this area. Along similar lines, I like to keep our home looking tidy and attractive. I don't know if I would call that a hobby--it's often more under the "work" category--but even small things like changing out a few decorations seasonally is satisfying to me and I think it makes our home more inviting.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kris,
      I agree. We've always tried to make the effort to all eat together. It was more difficult as the kids got older, as they always had some place to be. But this past year has been great, with everyone home at dinnertime.
      I like changing seasonal decor, too. It's an inexpensive way to brighten up my house.

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  4. Gardening, hands down! And this that you wrote above, "The last 18 months has energized my desire to make our yard as productive as it can be. What I can say for this year's garden is that I have tried harder with all of the garden than in previous years. That may or may not result is the biggest harvest yet for me" could have been written by me. In fact, I had a conversation with someone this morning about how raising food for my family has become my "job". And while I hope for much more produce from our garden this year (started many of my fall seeds two weeks ago, in fact), I've already gotten my best harvest ever. Not counting any of our greens or lettuces, strawberries, blackberries, or sugar snaps, we've harvested over 360 lbs since I started keeping track on May 30th. Pretty excited about that! Today I'm busily pressure canning tomatoes and homemade chicken stock, and steam canning more dill pickles.

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    1. Wow, Cat! I'm in awe of you. That is indeed an amazing amount of produce. Good job! You will really appreciate all of your canned goods next winter.

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    2. Thank you! Though I do have to say that the 80 lb potato harvest and winter squashes have helped that number greatly! Still, they count. I tried to figure how much of everything we need for a year and grow accordingly. I'll be short on tomatoes but didn't have space to plant more without giving up something else. Two spaghetti squash plants have yielded 17 fruits so far with more still on the vines. I'm also growing several other types of winter squashes to experiment with more of those in our diet: Long Pie, Candy Roaster, Burgess Buttercup, and Blue Hubbard, as well as Delicata. Potatoes are another one that I have trouble growing enough of due to space. Planning to plant again for fall, so, if we get a similar crop from those, we'll have grown about half of what our family needs for a year between the two crops. Still, it's something. Trying to remember that every little bit counts and learn from this year in order to adjust future planting accordingly.

      Delete

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