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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Gardening and Canning--why do it?

I mentioned to someone I know recently that I could get almost a whole bush of jalapeno peppers quite cheaply at the local Aldi store. Her reply was "Then why grow them?" Why?

Gosh you know, when I look at the time and trouble it takes to grow a garden and preserve or use the harvest--that's not a dumb question. It is not an entirely 'frugal' affair. Its a semi-frugal though.

My thoughts are-- it is a pleasure, yes a difficulty too--but still a pleasure. Kind of like marriage, family, friendship, your job, your pets, your kids--all things that are not guaranteed to be 100% wonderful all the time.

Beside being a pleasure--it is a challenge. I like the challenge of finding out what it is that I can do to make my garden better, grow my veggies better or maybe less expensively. I like to learn how to use my harvest more effectively or just enjoy new dishes.

It is a life style choice--yes I could buy everything--and I do buy quite alot--I'm not a 100% homegrown food only person--far from it! But I enjoy this kind of life. I have chosen to be a gardener, it is something that suits me.

It is a form of therapy--I would rather spend a day working in my garden and admiring my work than spend time sitting in a therapist's office. The work eases my mind and re-directs my thoughts even as it tires my body. It is good work.

It is semi-frugal-- I do save 'some' money by growing my own produce and herbs--not always lots of money--sometimes more, sometimes less. Some years all the effort has been ruined by some crazy quirk of nature and the harvest has been minute. This is not that kind of year--yeah! I am wondering how 5 tomato plants could do so well right now. I've never been a 'purist' when it comes to saving money. I think when you make that your #1 goal you and pursue it too extremely you will lose out on the journey. If I wanted to I could cut our grocery bill far more than I have-- we just wouldn't have all the foods we enjoy--we'd have enough to live on.

It is a satisfying way of connecting to nature and history and other folks--fellow gardeners. Over the fence I've had conversations about my neighbor's banana tree, another neighbors peach tree problems, rose of sharon plants, aphids, sevin dust, how to water, what to use to discourage fire ants that won't hurt the family dog (not that we have one) how onions and peppers do in this area, etc.. Gardening gives me a 'common ground' with the folks I live next to.

All in all--life is about the journey, its not about the most efficient way to get there but the most enriching and fulfilling way to enjoy the journey. If for you the focus is on something else--that's fine. For me, gardening, nature and kitchen adventures are part of who I am.

I refuse to rigidly 'cost out' my free time as if I should be making a good wage at every single thing I choose to do with it. I will take the economy of most things into serious consideration--but I will not make that the only criteria for my choices. I am not in such dire straits that I must do that. This applies to other things as well.

I enjoy making handmade gifts for instance. I am artistic and my gifts are usually praised as being very unique and beautifully done. Over the years I've been told many times, "you should sell those" and then the math would be done-- how much does it cost you to make those, how long do they take to make? It all gets costed out to see what it is worth--is it 'worth my time' to sell my work? Usually the verdict is --well probably not if I want to continue to make my 'unique' crafts, perhaps yes if I figure out some way to make them faster or cheaper, less unique. What for?

It is like the gardening. I love to do the things in my 'semi' way. In moderation, as I enjoy them. I don't want to go into business mass producing anything--and I wouldn't find any pleasure in it that way. There is something to be said for enjoying what you do, when you can. Nobody has a life full of all pleasureable things--but where you can find joy-- you should-- no apologies needed.

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