On Tomato Sandwiches, Turkey Hunting, and What Makes a Hobby "Worth It"
No. 5 | Summer Gardening in Greenville, SC
True story: I do not grow veggies to save money on groceries.
I was talking to a neighbor the other day and he remarked on how much work it is to grow tomatoes yourself when you could just go to the store and pick them up for mere dollars.
“No tomato sandwich tastes that good,” were his words.
But a few minutes later he was telling us about the gear he bought for turkey hunting, and I started thinking:
“No turkey sandwich tastes that good.” 😆
In many ways quality and value are subjective to individual preference.
But, I also think there’s something interesting and similar underpinning both my and my neighbor’s perspectives on what makes our investment in these activities worth it to us:
Both gardening and hunting engage all the senses, the physical body as well as the mind and imagination; require patience and discernment; bring both success and failure often; are able to be social or solo; and yield something delicious to share with others.
And lots of hobbies do those same things for people.
“Worth it” or “not” can’t really be established in dollars alone when a good hobby also creates flourishing in many facets.
I can say without reservation that the muscle-building work and the money I’ve invested in creating my tiny kitchen garden has been worth it for me.
The compulsion to step outside for just a few minutes multiple times a day to run my fingers through lavender and rosemary leaves, the crunch-crunch of the pea gravel under my feet as I do, the smiles on my kids’ faces as they find a ripe strawberry or blueberry… it’s the things with no dollar value at all that keep me gardening.
The Plants edition of Paper Routes I worked on with Lib Ramos and Charis JB is out and it's gorgeous (more on that below). And, the Seeds & Starts Swap at Hampton Station was so much fun. Thank you to everyone who came out!
What I’m Reading & Listening To
Tips on Watering from Stephanie at Southern Garden Solutions
I have drip irrigation on a timer in my raised beds for the first time ever.
Stephanie helped me figure out how to hijack the ancient system that was already here when we moved in and reroute one zone to the veggie garden.
I took long-weekend to Michigan and came back to an even happier garden. In the past that required I pay Sydney, a teenager from my old neighborhood, to water everyday. She did an amazing job, but it cost me.
Now I’m having to learn a new watering rhythm—I’m pretty sure I’ve been overwatering so far, as some pepper plants are dropping leaves and a few things are yellowing. Adjusting, as one does. These tips were helpful.
Green Coriander: Tips & Tricks for a Secret Ingredient from Aaron and Susan Von Frank at Tyrant Farms
If you’ve got bolting cilantro, read this! (Especially if you don’t have any cilantro-tastes-like-soap people in your family.)
Succession Planting with Flowers via Joe Gardener
This is the second episode of the Joe Gardener podcast I’ve listened to where Joe Lamp’l interviews Lisa Mason Ziegler, and I learned so much from both. Lisa is a flower farmer in Virginia, and she’s really helping me get a feel for the rhythm of planting flowers for blooms all year long.
No Dig: Nurture Your Soil to Grow Better Veg with Less Effort by Charles Dowding
I just picked this one up at the library, so I don’t have a full review yet. I’m about half-way through, and so good so far! It will be back in the Greenville County system here in a week or two ;)
What I’m Growing
I’ve got a lot growing right now—probably more diversity than I’ve ever had, and still just in two raised beds and some containers, and the landscaping around them. I’m sharing the full list just to get across the point that you can fit a LOT in a small space:
Tomatoes: San Marzano, Blue Berrries and a Grape variety Molly (@greenvillesupperclub) shared with me from her saved seeds last year.
Peppers: Shishito, Cayenne, Pimento and Cherry
Squash: Lemon Squash (supposedly more pest resistant… we shall see!)
Herbs: Creeping Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Thai Basil, Lemongrass, Parsley, Oregano, Lavender, Apple Mint, Green Onion
Berries: Strawberries and Blueberries (though both are finishing up)
Sunflowers (lemon queen and chocolate cherry)
I harvested my garlic about 2 weeks ago. As I feared, they didn’t get enough sun in their random spot by the road and were quite petite. But they’re adorable, so I’m curing them.
I’ll buy more seed garlic from Keene Garlic (they’re taking pre-orders now; I like Chesnok Red and Early Italian), since planting these teeny tiny bulbs won’t give me a great chance to grow bigger ones next year.
I’m experimenting with a lot more succession planting this year. Just poking more seeds into the ground every week, filling in empty spaces. A tiny action that creates abundance. The cosmos I put in a few empty spaces are coming up nicely.
A Beautiful Project
The Plants edition of Paper Routes is a unique and beautiful map of the best places to buy plants locally—and it’s authored by me!
I was beyond honored to be asked to participate in this project. And I had so much fun working on it—visiting plant shops I’d never been to, talking to the staff at the nurseries, and generally trying to avoid buying way to many plants in the name of research!
Paper Routes is a series of collaborative illustrated maps from Good Printed Things — a Greenville-based publishing company. Each guide combines the work of a local artist and writer to highlight places that make Greenville unique, supporting our local economy through art.
And let me tell you, the 8-year-old novelist who still lives inside my heart is quite validated to see my name on something for sale in my favorite bookstore—even if it is a pamphlet!
The Seeds & Starts Swap in May was fun! I loved meeting so many of my Instagram friends in person. The next one is in the works. Stay tuned.
And, remember to use #gvlgardening when sharing your garden victories pics so I see them. I love celebrating with you!
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