The Realities of Harvesting Gardening
Today and yesterday l have harvested roughly about 4kg of Strawberries, above is just twelve from this morning and there will be more this afternoon. They’re lovely and delicious to the taste – except l can no longer eat strawberries and the one person is this household that can is 12,000 miles away which means that all this crop are given away to our neighbours for free.
Three main pots producing 2019’s strawberry crops which are this season yielding an extremely healthy crop.
I have added the free bit on because they didn’t cost nothing to produce, the reality of this continuous harvest is that they need watering and maintaining and attending to which is also an expenditure of your time.
Now the garden we have here is way too big, we originally took this rental on board in 2016 when Scrappy was three years younger than now mentally but a great deal younger physically. Of course later that year, very early 2017 – Scrappy took a turn for the worse, was diagnosed with IVDD which sadly ages dogs terribly and since then, bless her she has become a very old dog and more so in the last six months. So the overall garden space is a major surplus to requirements in so far as an extensive back lawn, and numerous ornamental beds and the mound – all of which require constant maintenance and combined with a dog that these days hardly ventures into the garden unless one of us is out there with her – it becomes a massive garden.
Courgettes and tomato plants and the three tomatillo plants.
Suze is more the green fingered gardener than l am, principally my forte lies in producing a very healthy compost base, but with the shoulder injury which started in January 2018 and only now is starting to recover and repair, l have been out of action from doing any composting or indeed just being able to help Suze in the garden.
The vegetable season for 2019 is a great deal smaller than 2017 and 2018. The first year 2017 l ran and managed a very large vegetable garden – too big considering the summer we had that year and how quickly our water butts dried up with no natural replensishment from the rains. We went through a period of almost four months with no serious rainfall, and certainly no sufficient fall to refill the butts, which meant we had to use the water from the tap, or rather water from the metred tap, which is extremely costly in the UK.
Courgettes just developing
Now for the 2017 season l was physically fit and l was able to attend to the fruit and vegetable gardening and the composting with no problems, although with the lack of rains, the vegetable gardening became extremely expensive and when Suze and l sat down and worked out the harvested crops to the actual costings and time considerations, we ran at an extreme loss, and then had to simply accept that loss which measured against growing our own fresh organic produce.
Lots and lots of courgettes this year.
Organic is of course a ‘key’ word here, this means that the gardeners are not relying upon any chemicals what so ever to not just not taint their produce, but no chemicals are used to keep pests at bay and of course organic backyard gardening requires time.
We did try to utilise a watering drip feeder system we purchased which although it came with excellent reviews has already faltered to the point that this morning l had to remove all the bottles as they were not drip feeding at all, purely draining out – so a newer system and maybe one with a bit more expense attached to it than the ones we bought is going to have to be sourced out.
Each season more and more is learned, you gain more wisdom and experience and you can start to really identify with what you need to do for the next season. Suze and l who have three main water butts here have said that for this winter [as we do see ourselves here for another winter in the very least with Scrappy, although it may be our last together with the news on her health condition last month] we will purchase more water butts and if we are able to re-sort the garden and its layout then we intend to have perhaps anywhere between 3 – 10 in total which will we believe enable us to water the main bulk of our garden for a few weeks even without natural rainfall replenishment.
I have noticed in Suze’s current absence, that l have had to rely upon the hose more due to even though my arm and shoulder are slowly recovering and repairing, they are doing so without medical assistance, which means that l as of yet do not have the strength to cart the water cans from the back of the way back garden [80 feet away] to the front of the back garden as it causes simply way too much strain, whereas the hose is easier for me to handle. But it is another cost.
Not all the beds have been used this year.
Suze and l prefer to eat a healthier food source and if we grow it ourselves we know with 100% conviction that we have not applied any chemicals direct, but as said this is a very costly affair and you can understand why many people prefer to not bother with this whole grow your own process?
The gardening so far this year knackered Suze who works full time out of the house, Monday to Friday. She would get up at around 6 and work in the garden for the next 45 minutes to an hour to then shower and have some breakfast and then leave the house at 8am and get back at 6pm, to then spend another 45 – 60 minutes in the garden whilst l cooked dinner. That taxes you, especially if you are the only one doing the majority of heavy lifting work.
From greenhouse to the front of the back garden – it’s a big garden.
There’s lots of garden.
It’s all a lot of lovely, but there’s a lovely lot of hell and hard work with it.
The garden this 2019 season is way smaller than even the 2018 garden and yet because of all the other gardening requirements with in so far as the non vegetable side to things – mowing lawns and weeding and maintenance and attendance this too takes its toll and adds in our case even more of a loss of economy on the vegetable side.
This morning l spent three unplanned hours on the vegetable garden, watering and harvesting, pruning, tying up, caning and still to do repotting. Luckily the green house has the smallest amount of growth inside and is easier to maintain but it all still adds up.
If you then have a dud summer, you are are still doing all the same level of work, just with very little crop success, and again, a very costly affair.
The runner beans are now starting to produce their crop.
I think next year with hopefully my shoulder in better condition and therefore able to help Suze who perhaps understandably has become pretty blase about the garden and some of the problems it is experiencing and needed the break down under, we will plan things very differently. I am not sure what the answer is in some respects, of course you can’t attach a cost to it, because if you did you wouldn’t do it, because with your yields against your time, you are always running at a loss.
But sometimes when l hear people complain about the cost of organic produce and irrelevant whether it is the result of home grown back yard gardening, or farm shop sale to even commercial level they don’t often think about the hardships that you as a gardener do have to go to for the crops to yield. Society always wants everything at the right price with little regard to how it has been produced and under what conditions. Society expects a much healthier non chemical food source for the same value as that of commercial food products and that can’t happen.
The potato plants are now flowering …..
Supermarkets and large scale non organic farmers have pumped millions of gallons of chemicals into our food systems for too many years and now we have hybridised food products at a high expenditure with artificial supplements added to make them the right colour, the right size, the right taste and society demand and expectations in so far as consumerism doesn’t blink an eye and just keeps these guys in action.
Running and maintaining any size vegetable patch is hard work, you do it for a lot of reasons, fresh produce at supposedly lower costs, chemical free produce as in you know what’s gone into it, passion and love, enthusiasm, a sense of achievement and these things outweigh the sinful cost factors.
…. and they really are quite lovely aren’t they?
With Suze gone and me back to perhaps 85% fitness level, l can see why she has become so exhausted and blase about the garden “Oh just water it with the hose babes, your shoulder will not be able to heal properly if you overdo things, forget the cost of water for the time being, we’ll have fresh produce and next year we’ll run a more economical garden. scratch it up to experience!” Because it is hard work as this morning was living testament to and to boot it slowed me down on my entire day.
There is that of course, that each passing season is a new learning curve …. Yeah for sure, next year will be a much better garden.
But the next time you stop by a roadside stall or a farm shop to buy fresh chemical free produce – don’t complain so much and give a thought to the long hours that these folks have to dedicate to make it viable. That fresh produce on your table, in your meal and eventually in your stomach was made out of love and passion and the realities of harvesting gardening.