The Free Garden Part I

Yes, yes, I know. It’s August and I’m just getting a post up about gardening. In my defense, I’m writing this the first weekend of May…does that help give you an idea about how much has happened during this six month summer here at the homestead? I’m three months ahead on blog posts! That NEVER happens.

But basically, what I’m getting at with this post, is that I have no money. With the recession created by Covid, I’ve lost a significant percentage of my income. It’s a little like being thrust back into 2014-the year we bought the house, emptied our savings and had the highest taxes in the history of the world, and moved in with friends.

Truly, it is what it is. Now when this post comes out at the end of August I have no idea if things will be better or worse. But, as Tyler and I have been rewatching the Ken Burns Dustbowl documentary; I’m not in the least upset about dealing with a recession. The Great Depression, what happened on those farms and the environmental disaster that ensued…damn. Y’all need to Amazon that documentary if you haven’t seen it. (As I will be cancelling all of our streaming services at the end of this month to pinch some more pennies!)

Update from future Jenna (as in Jenna who is reviewing this post before it publishes in August). Financially, this hasn’t been a great year. And to help with the insecurity I was feeling; a couple weeks after I finished the first draft of this blog, I started some part-time work. So I continued teaching Monday-Thursday with online lessons. And began working Friday-Sunday at this part time job. Yes, it has been a physically exhausting summer. It’s somewhat thrilling to be a narrator in these posts written in the past and then, before they go live, get to update from the future. I’ll be posting later this year about how I’ve been managing working seven days a weeks with a chronic illness. It’s been….an adventure?

I don’t know if this is a midwestern thing, or an age thing, or what. But I know Tyler and I are fighters and we will get through whatever we need to get through. No whining. (There are a lot of people whining out there right now…imaginary eye roll emoji here).

Anyway, back to the garden.

Tyler asked me, in spring, if I was going to garden with all this extra free time with everything being closed. And it really made me sad. The gardening has been so difficult on my asthma, and I know spending an hour or two pulling weeds everyday is going to kill my hands.

So I made two decisions. First, I joined a CSA again. I haven’t done one since maybe 2013? If you aren’t familiar, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You buy a “share” from a farmer. By putting up money upfront, they can better plan how they plant and then throughout the season, you receive some of what they grow. Each relationship with a farmer might be different. But part of the CSA is knowing that if the crops don’t do so well with poor weather, you might get less. If they do really well, you might have more than they initially planned for. Hence buying a share.

It’s a great way to support local farms, but also try produce you may not be accustomed to. The first year I did a CSA I discovered a ton of vegetables I had never heard of…kolrabi anyone?

The second thing decided to do was see if any of the remaining seeds from my last garden would sprout. As long as doing so would cost me no money!

So, I grabbed an egg carton, made some newspaper pots (which was super difficult for me because I’m not great at construction of any type), took out the remainder of a a bag of potting soil, some coffee grounds, and some dirt from our yard), and plastic wrap.

I planted some of everything I had. I also planted watermelon seeds in my herb planter from last year and topped off the strawberry pots with soil. Then I cleared some of the weeds from the raspberry bushes-because I’m eating every single damn one of those berries this year (and maybe will give a few to Gus).

What will I do if any of these seeds sprout? I have no idea. I guess maybe get some pots? Maybe plant some right up by the house? I’m doubtful anything will come of them…but it was a nice change of pace for an afternoon.

And it’s free…and I have a share of summer/fall produce coming in regularly every two weeks this summer…so I’ll still be enjoying the wonderful local produce. I’m happy with this decision, it’s the best I can do for times like these. The CSA is about the same cost I would normally put into gardening for a season. So I’m out the same amount of money, will definitely get some produce, will try to grow some of my own and won’t have to spend hours in a garden having difficulty breathing. We can only do our best.

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