This is our last market garden delivery to the restaurant for the season all packaged up and ready to go. Bags of lettuce, green slicing cucs, lemon cucs, sweet Antohi Romanian peppers, and cherry tomatoes. There will still be more to harvest from the garden in days to come, but the gardener has hit a wall and decided it's time to call it quits on the market gardening. I'll give anything else away or preserve it for our own use . . . at my leisure. (Leisure? Hold on a minute while I go look that word up in the dictionary. I think I've forgotten what it means.)
Market gardening was an experiment for us this year and we've learned a lot. As with so many things in life, it had its pros and its cons. Under pros I have to list lots of compliments on our produce from the kitchen staff in the restaurant, their willingness and eagerness to take whatever we brought them, the knowledge that we can produce a very marketable product, extra income generated while having the comfort of "working from home", and knowing that we have the capability of growing more than we need just for ourselves.
Probably the biggest con is that it took so much more of my time than I would have guessed. Who knew? I could have hypothesized on the time angle from here to eternity, but until I actually did it, it would have just been conjecture. There was more time involved with starting all the seeds, transplanting a couple of times, planting in the garden, weeding, mulching, erecting supports, tying up, watering and harvesting. Ah, the harvesting. The harvesting and preparing for delivery. Much, much, much more time spent on those two aspects of the whole shebang than I ever would have imagined. The extra income brought in was appreciated, of course, but it turned out to be pretty paltry when spread over the extra hours (and hours and hours - have I mentioned it took more time than I'd anticipated?) I spent in the garden this year.
I'm not sorry we did it as we've been kicking around the idea of raising something for market for many years. And it was not a bad experience by any stretch of the imagination. I survived. I'm still upright. I still love gardening with a passion. But I have made the decision to pull back in, streamline and simplify the garden for next year in order to grow just enough for our own use and, okay, some extra for those nearest and dearest to us.
And when we get the urge to do some more market gardening (and you can probably bet your sweet bippy [anybody out there remember "Laugh In"?] we will), I'm pretty sure we'll concentrate on a product that maximizes the return on time and effort expended. Raspberries? Strawberries? Tomatoes? It sure won't be green beans or lettuce or cucumbers. As they say, I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid. I hope. I think. Please help. Somebody perform an intervention if I ever plant so many green beans again.