Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Big Decision

I'm not going to be gardening this year. WAAAAH! Now that I've gotten that over with I'll explain why.

We've got one heckuva huge remodeling/finishing the house project we're trying to get done. Once and for all. Finally. At long last. Completed.

Most of you know I grow a huge amount of our food, usually enough to last year 'round. That requires a lot of time all the way from starting a gazillion seedlings inside to the last of the harvesting and preserving in the fall. Guess what? I can't be in two places at once. There was a time when I was convinced I could be, but I hopefully I'm wiser now. (Can we say total burn-out?) This coming spring, summer and fall I'm going to be involved in the remodeling pretty much from dawn until dusk once our weather turns good enough to tear into things the way we want to.

The thing that will save us from starvation is that I can order organically grown frozen and canned provisions from our co-op with which to stock our freezers and pantry. We've got good sources where other supplies can be obtained, too. Sure it will cost money, but my time is worth a lot whether it's spent in the garden or up on a ladder. The downside (which I'm trying not to think about) is that the food simply won't be as high a quality or taste as good as that which I can grow right here on our own land. (Does that make me a food snob?)

I knew this was coming up this year and did my durndest last season to grow and put by more than a year's supply of many veggies. I know I have an ample supply of some of them to take us at least into this coming early winter. I made enough pickles, relishes, pickled beets, jams and syrups for two years.

I'll still get my fingers in the dirt. There is no way I can keep from putting in one or two raised beds of salad greens, scallions and spinach for our usual one big salad a day all summer. (I'll consider planting more if I can figure out a way to keep them hidden from hubby. I may be gardening by the light of the moon if I can steal out of bed at 2 a.m. without him knowing it.)

The majority of the raised beds will either be used for composting or planted with a cover crop we'll turn under before it goes to seed. The same with the field garden and pumpkin patch. All will get two or three plantings of green manure crops that will give the soil a rest while at the same time improving it.

I will still have to take care of the strawberries, blueberries and raspberries from prepping them this spring through harvesting the berries as they mature. We had such good berry production last year that I have lots of fresh frozen berries still in the freezers. We're very fond of eating the berries fresh until they come out our ears, but I'm thinking we will still have extras this year to sell to a restaurant in town. We've found berries are the one thing we can raise that bring in a decent amount of financial return for effort expended.

You have no idea how strange it feels to me not to be starting seeds or sitting at the kitchen table plotting out my gardens this year. I am going to miss gardening soooo much, but I also want very much to get the house finished. So for this one year, if it means having a finished house to decorate, live in and enjoy, I'll handle not gardening and be a happy camper.

I will be living vicariously through all of YOUR gardens so please plan on taking and posting lots of pictures all summer long!


  1. I'm sure it's hard for you to tone down your gardening this year, but like you've said, and are able to admit, there is only so much you can do. Better to focus all (well, most) of your energy on the big remodeling project instead of doing two things half-heartedly.
    Good luck & keep posting before & after pics...I love to see the progress!

  2. You are a brave woman. I do think, however, that even the ongoing berry business you will have will keep you busy enough. I am sure the satisfaction of your total rebuild, er, remodel, will ease some of the pain of not having a garden. You will still have plenty of material with which to keep us entertained all year!

  3. Wow. I about fell off my chair when I read your first sentence, but I totally get it. What a wonderful way to get done what needs to be done without over-extending yourself AND what a joy it will be to start back next year. Unless you like remodeling more than gardening, that is. I can just see it now..."Mama & Papa Pea Remodeling". Do you have a van? You're going to need a van.

  4. Oh my! That I'm sure will be hard, but it you still will have a couple of beds I'm sure that will help. The berries will take time too. But to have your house all done and the way you want it, what a joy that will be!

  5. I have to imagine that there is a great sense of relief overcoming you now. To not have to embark on a huge project like that has got to make you feel more energetic towards the remodel. I will put money on the fact that someone will still be dumping summers excess on your door step. And supporting your co-ops ensures that they can stay in business too. A win win!

  6. WOW! Didn't think I'd ever hear you say that ... I understand, but ... WOW!

    The few little green things and your berries will help you not go into total withdrawal - which I doubt would be pretty.

    I can hardly wait for the pictures of the remodeling - before and after. I will feel good to get that large project out of the way, and then next spring you can garden again to your hearts content.


  7. I can't believe it I finally find your blog and then you are just not going to be doing it! Enough about my woos I do feel bad for you even though you will have a finished house. What kind of blueberry plants do you have? I keep trying different brands in different parts of the yard but they just do seem to really take.

  8. Carolyn Renee - I know it's gonna be a crazy, mad, busy summer and I'm hoping this is truly going to be THE BIG PUSH to get this joint done so you'll probably see more remodeling/construction pictures than you care to!

    Susan - Not brave. Just sick and tired of living in an unfinished house. Grumpf!

    ThyHand - I HATE remodeling. Because I'm not good at it. I frustrate my hubby all to heck as he doesn't understand how I can create intricate quilt patterns, but not have the aptitude to measure, cut and build. I don't LIKE to measure, cut and build, silly man. There will be no "Mama & Papa Peas Remodeling." There will be no van. (I'm already looking forward to my garden of 2012!)

  9. Sounds like you are up for the challenge, hopefully those berries and salad greens will keep enough dirt under your nails to keep you satisfied!

  10. Alla - Thanks for your support! (I'm gonna need it.)

    Jane - Truly, I'd rather put in and maintain a two-acre garden than do the remodel. Which is really dumb to say because I want the house finished more than anything. Do I have issues? Do I need professional help? (As long as the professional help is in the form of 6 full-time carpenters, I'll take it!)

    Yvette - You're right, it wouldn't be pretty if I didn't get to get my hands in the soil all year! How awful that would be.

    Marja - I'll still be hanging out around here . . . just not so much garden (waaah!) info. Our blueberry bushes are several varieties recommended for our area. A real hodge podge. Ours took FOREVER to start growing and then another eon to produce! They're just slow.

  11. Kelly - That's what I'm counting on!

  12. Well, I say congratulations on keeping your marriage! Having been through the experience of a total walls-knocked-down remodel, it can really take a toll on a relationship if you have too much going on at once. Nobody ever means to argue, but tempers are very quick to flare when builders' frustration sets in. I didn't garden during the reno, but I was breastfeeding a baby and keeping a 2 year old off the power tools strung about the house all the while drafting the kitchen cabinet plans, LOL... yep, we call drywall dust "divorce dust" - but we made it through! It's easy to jog around planting seeds but you are being good about envisioning the months of Aug & Sept when all you do is eat, sleep and breathe food processing! It never fails to shock me every year how much work canning season is. Just think how fertile that soil will be for 2012!! Now that settles it, I will be trying my experiment of mailing an heirloom tomato... you will be my guinea pig for the experiment LOL! Don't worry about the reno, you'll be a pro with all those tools in no time haha!

  13. Erin - "Don't worry about the reno . . . " Ha! The reason I'm worried about it is that we've done it before . . . several times. Talk about "divorce dust!" Neither of us is at our finest when handling power tools! Or making decisions that don't alienate one or the other. Or explaining why it would be best "to do it this way." I think that's why our marriage has been so successful. We each are very good at our own particular parts of the whole. But make us work on the same thing at the same time? Oh, my. I can hardly wait to get started.

  14. Congratulations, Mama Pea! I am so impressed that you are not trying to do it all! Wow, that is serious progress. It sounds that you'll still be doing more gardening than the average bear, but WAY less that your usual. Good choice.

  15. Between the remodel, the berries, the salad greens, the fruit trees, the chickens / geese, and the bees I think you'll have MORE than enough to keep you hopping!!! You might even wonder how it is you managed all that gardening in the first place (Personally, I'm convinced you don't actually sleep!)

  16. Even though you are not planting what you usually plant you still have gardens to look after. With all those berries and a garden of greens you'll have more garden to look after than I do.

    It's great that you can recognize your limitations and prioritize your time.

    The word remodel gives me the screaming jeebies but I'm sure you and your husband will get through it with flying colors.

  17. Claire - Thanks! Keep up the good words as far as keeping me on the straight and narrow. Somebody's gotta do it. ;o}

    Jen - Boy, do I have you fooled! Sleeping is one of my favorite things to do!

    Sparkless - Oh, I only hope you're right!!!

  18. Well don't you worry one bit Mama, we don't love you JUST for your garden, ya know! But I can certainly appreciate your desire to have a finished home. You'll just be getting your hands dirty in something other than your garden.

    You'll be refreshed and probably go crazy next Spring ;) Looking forward to watching the work at your home progress.

    Fingers crossed that all the wonderful people you left bags of home grown goodies like a thief in the night and ran like hell...will do the same for you.

    It's times like this I wish you still lived in IL, cuz I'd take real good care of you my friend!

  19. Oh no, no gardening! That's tough, but getting the house done will be such a relief (once it IS done). Good luck with it!

  20. Oh, MP, what a decision that must have been! I can understand, and think you are smart to give yourself the opportunity to do one (very large) project at a time. You are a wise woman.

  21. Wow, Mama Pea! That's incredible. I can't immagine you not gardening, but I'm sure you're going to garden so happily the next year with your other projects done! Happy hammering!!

  22. APG - You are just the bestest sweetie in the world! Maybe I'll take a trip to IL just at the right time and help myself to everything in your garden. Sound familiar?? ;o}

    Kaytee - You got it! When it's done, it will be WONDERFUL!! (And worth not gardening this year!)

    Lori - Yup, it WILL turn out as a good decision. (Now where's my tool belt?)

    Patty - Such expectations! I'm getting scared!

  23. I don't believe this one for a minute. Oh, you'll start out with good intentions, but your Super Woman self is gonna show up, and yes, you WILL be out by the light of the moon. I sit and stare in amazement at your gorgeous garden photos---there is no way in heck you can just give it up.
    Yea, first a bed of greens, then, oh, a few carrots,, and heck, just a row of taters, and there she goes!!

    I am looking forward to seeing the progress on the house though. How long are you guessing it will take?
    Ours took 6 months, but it was a TOTAL gut job right down to the studs......

  24. Sue - I think my husband is planning on keeping me tethered to a pair of sawhorses so I can't get out into the garden! How long will it take? 'Bout ten years, if all goes well. ;o} (I'm really hoping as we get into this that my optimism will improve.) Hubby says we will be done by the time winter hits. From his mouth . . .

  25. What! I was absolutely shocked when I read that first sentence. I can definitely sympathize with your house/garden situation though. Consider that the ancient Hebrews were supposed to give the land a Sabbath rest every 7 years. Sounds like you're going to be taking good care of your garden, so this hiatus might be a good thing in the end.

  26. I'm coming in uber late to this but good for your for not over-extending yourself. It's going to be hard, sure... ok, really, really hard, but you'll have the satisfaction of having a HUGE 'to do' (the house) off your list. And I agree, the greens and berries and bees, and... (you get the point) will keep you busy. (Although I think Sue may be on to something... gardening by the light of the moon???)

  27. Leigh - Thanks for your support. Our garden soil (the oldest) has been working for 14 years so it's DUE for a rest and re-energization!

    Fiona - If I do that gardening by the light of the moon while dancing nekked and howling at the moon . . . will you come rescue me?? ;o}