Saturday, January 19, 2019

New Year, New Perspective


Every year "things" happen that we never anticipated.  Sometimes they are small things, like getting a flat tire on the highway.  Sometimes they are big things such as an unexpected illness or loss of a loved one.  And sometimes they are good things.  From making a new friend to harvesting a bumper crop of tomatoes, there are usually many pleasant surprises to be thankful for...sometimes, we just have to make the time to look for them.

When Tammy sent me seeds for her favourite zinnia, she surprised me with some Tithonia seeds as well.  I was smitten by the towering plants & pollinator attracting blooms and have grown them ever since.

One thing that really hit home this past year is how fleeting time is – how quickly it goes and how precious little we have of it.  Spending a few minutes doing one thing necessarily requires that those same minutes are not spent doing something else.  In that vein, I’ve been rethinking how I spend my time and have decided to make a few small changes that will make a big impact.  The goal?  A more relaxed state of being instead of the seemingly constant frenzy to get everything done.

I'm always drawn to seating areas from which the garden is enjoyed, such as this mossy bench that I spotted during the Washington DC fling.  I'm hoping to add one to the veg area, and just as important, to actually make use of it.

In 2019, I plan on cutting back on a few things that are not as important to me, while increasing the amount of time that I take for myself, both in and out of the garden (aka "me" time 😁), as well as spending more time with my family (simply being together in the same room doing our own thing does not count!).

Of course, the garden, which takes up the majority of my time over the summer, will be impacted.  To what extent, I'm still trying to figure out.  What I do know is that there will be changes both in terms of the what (what I grow) and the how (how I grow/manage it).  I'm also going to reevaluate what I need to grow in the vegetable garden - 'cause we all know that just because you can grow it doesn't mean you SHOULD grow it.

I want to take time to smell the roses...and not be in a rush when I do it.

In this post, I wanted to talk about one change that I have already decided on:  I'll be cutting back drastically on tallying the harvest.

I really enjoy knowing how much I have harvested and comparing the numbers from year to year.  This has been especially useful when trying to determine which methods and/or varieties work best in my garden.  But there’s a downside – it’s a lot of work.  What could be a quick saunter into the garden to pick a few leaves of lettuce becomes a more involved production, especially as each variety is weighed separately and the process often includes an artfully arranged photo op to boot.

A two minute jaunt into the garden to pick a bunch of spinach for dinner
was much more time consuming when the veg had to be picked, trimmed,
cleaned, weighed and photographed, all while keeping the varieties separate.
Only once all this was done could I get down to including it as part of the meal.

On many occasions, I would actually forgo harvesting what I wanted to and scour the fridge or freezer for an alternative as I simply didn't have the time for all that rigmarole.  Obviously, this completely misses the point of growing your own.  While the "cost" associated with tallying the harvest was worth it (to me) in the early stages of the garden ('cause I'm one of those analytical types, you know), at this point in my garden journey, it no longer has the value that it once did.

Although I’m always up for experimenting and will continue to do so, for many crops I’ve settled on the method of growing that works best for me.  In most cases, I also have one or two (or more) favourite varieties that I tend to grow every year by which I can judge any new ones that I throw into the mix.  What I've come to realize is that I'm ok with simply "knowing" that I had a good/bad harvest based on my subjective impressions, rather than objective numbers, especially if this means more time to enjoy the garden and what comes out of it.

Chelsea Prize & Summer Dance
Two of my favourite slicing cucumbers by which all others are judged

I’ve decided that, going forward, I’ll weigh only those crops where there is some value in doing so….or if I just feel like it 😄.

Next year, for example, I’ll probably still weigh the storage type crops, such as onions, garlic, dried beans, and winter squash because it’s easy to do so.  In the case of the garlic and beans, I’m also not 100% satisfied with their yields so weighing is more important as I'm still trying to determine which methods and/or amendments work best for me.  The thing is, even in this instance, I'll still be treating weighting as more of an option rather than a requirement.  If I'm simply too busy with other things, I've given myself advanced permission to skip it.

Garlic is one crop where I'm still trying different amendments
in an effort to improve on size

At some point, perhaps once the kids are older or move out (gasp!), I may decide to do a full weighing once again.  Maybe.  For now, however, I would rather spend that time doing a craft with my daughter or a word search race with my son or relaxing with a pair of needles & a ball of yarn, than weighing four different varieties of kale 😉.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

27 comments:

  1. Great post Margaret and very good thoughts and plans for a slightly different year. I think 2019 will be a good year, I certainly hope so.

    Love the quote you've finished your post with “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things”, so true.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Oh, thank you Jan :) I've always felt that it's the small, everyday things that bring us the most joy. Even when we watch home movies, we always gravitate to everyday goofy moments rather than birthdays or vacations.

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  2. I confess I sometimes guesstimate some of my smaller harvests, and miss some entirely. Like you I learn from tracking some things, but not so much from others. I hope you have bumper crops and plenty of spare time too!

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    1. Thanks Dave - I'm a numbers person and many times my impressions of the harvest has been wrong (i.e. I think it was a good/bad year for a certain veg, but the numbers say otherwise). Not "knowing" will take a bit of getting used to :)

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  3. It's good to have a record of what crops well, what works best and what doesn't but not at the expense of more important things. I hope that 2019 is a great year, full of all those pleasant surprises and none of those big things that we never anticipated. I love that two tone rose, how pretty.

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    1. On more than one occasion, I was surprised by what the numbers told me. That's one thing that I'll miss - the "certainty" aspect of it where I can definitively say that one variety did better than another one or the year over year comparisons. But it really is all about priorities. I realized that I was spending much more time keeping track of the numbers rather than enjoying the garden, which is really the main reason that I garden to begin with. The time had definitely come to re-evaluate.

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  4. Time does rush past and it’s like cupboards in the house - so quickly filled. Like many retirees - I wonder how I had the time to go to work.

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    1. I feel the same way! I don't know how people manage to work full time and still fit everything else in, especially with how many activities kids are in these days.

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  5. I really enjoyed your thought process here. Last year I stepped down from several commitments that were no longer brining me joy. It definitely freed up time for me to focus on more of my favorite things. Several big situations happened last year that took an emotional toll on me and therefore I very much embrace the less is more and focus on what makes YOU happy. Cheers to a productive 2019!

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    1. Thank you Karin - I'm so sorry to hear that you have been going through your own difficulties. 2018 was such an emotionally draining year for many of us, it seems.

      It's so important to re-evaluate what brings us joy on an ongoing basis - it's not something that I've every really thought about until this year. Sometimes it's hard to let go of things we think we "need" to do, but once you give yourself permission to do so, a huge weight is lifted that you didn't even realize was making you slump! Can't wait to see you in Denver where we'll relax, be inspired and share some gut-busting (and soul soothing) laughing sessions XO

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  6. Yes, Margaret! You have the right idea! Enjoy our families and each day and produce harvest God gives us! Have a special year! Nancy

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    1. Thank you, Nancy - doing a lot more enjoying (in all aspects) is my plan for 2019. :)

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  7. Sometimes things that feel so important at the moment just become clutter. They fill our time and at the end of the day, they didn't do much to create joy or happiness and the time is lost. Do what satisfies your soul and to hell with weighing everything!

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    1. Yes! Your description of it as clutter is spot on. Just as with household clutter, there can be a big difference between what we think is important and what actually is.

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  8. Your garden should be a source of joy not a burden. So I agree, you (we) should do whatever it takes to keep it a joyful experience. I'm sure you'll find the right balance and find more joy than ever in all you do.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. I've been doing things a certain way for so long, recognizing that some of them no longer worked was a bit of a challenge. But once I got over that hump, actually letting go has not been as difficult as I expected.

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  9. Hi Margaret, wow, yes, definitely the right thing to do, and a process we can all learn from. I find that sometimes after a day at the plot I can't be bothered to cook with all the lovely fresh home-grown veg! Ironic to say the least, and that doesn't even include the weighing process, which I've never managed to get into. When I read about people weighing their veg it makes me feel that I should be doing it too, but it's reassuring to hear that now you've undergone the process for some time, you've got to a certain point and can now shift priorities. I hope you have a great year, and enjoy more of your garden and family.

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    1. Thank you Lou - I know what you mean about being tired after a long day in the garden...the last thing I feel like doing is cooking! My husband is a lost cause ;) but my kids are stepping up in the kitchen a bit more these days. I'm so looking forward to one day and enjoying a home cooked meal without being the one to cook it!

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  10. We all set unreasonable goals for ourselves at times. It's great that you've taken a good, hard look at this one of yours and reevaluated it in terms of what's useful and what isn't. Who knows - maybe at some point your kids will decide they'd love to spend time in the garden learning how to grow stuff!

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    1. It really is much too easy to set unrealistic goals when it's something that you love to do. And the kids spending more time in the garden? That would be amazing! At this point, however, I'm seen as the garden lady of the house and they are just fine leaving it at that, LOL.

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  11. Sounds like a sound decision. You're reminding me of that Danny Kaye song "Inchworm" from the movie Hans Christian Anderson.

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  12. Hi, Margaret,

    I hope this message is not too late to get to you.

    But I am reading about the extreme cold in your area. How cold is it predicted to get where you live? What do you do when it is so cold? How do you heat your house? Will everything outside freeze or can some plants take this much cold? Is this much cold a little bit unusual even for you?

    It was 77 F here yesterday, and, of course, this means that the deciduous trees won't bud this year because there was not enough cold to break dormancy. In fact, there was no dormant period.

    What a world for growing vegetables or anything else. So interesting. How can we expect to grow the same things?

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    1. Hi Jane! You are so right - unpredictable is the name of the game these days when it comes to weather & it's impact on the garden. That's unfortunate about your temperatures not getting cold enough. Although you would not know it from this weeks weather, it seems our trend, especially in the summer, is hotter as well...doesn't bode well for cool season crops as more moderate spring and fall weather has been fleeting.

      Right now, we are experiencing a few bouts of very cold weather. This week it's supposed to get down into the -30's (-22F) on a couple of days. We had a snowstorm yesterday, which is actually a good thing. A nice thick blanket of snow insulates the plants & keeps them at a constant temperature, so they don't experience the extremes & we are much less likely to lose any. Of course, sticking to plants that are for your zone (or I often push it one zone higher) also helps with not losing too many plants :) We usually get a few extreme days such as this every year - perhaps a dozen or so over the winter - and I have yet to lose any of our tried and true perennials.

      As for life in general, it pretty much goes on when it gets really cold here - not many people are going for strolls or walking their dogs but otherwise, it's business as usual. Most people have forced air central heating, typically natural gas, so houses are nice and toasty (i.e. usually people keep their homes heated to 71-73F). We also have a real fireplace which I love - nothing feels cozier than sitting by the fire when "the weather outside is frightful" ;)

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    2. Thanks, Margaret. Didn't know about snow insulation and somehow wasn't sure about the natural gas. I guess if you grow up with cold temperatures, you know what to do.

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  13. flowers and butterfly look so wonderful.
    have a great day

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