How to grow time
Do ever feel like you're racing against the clock to avoid having something "blow up" in your life if you don't attend to it immediately? Welcome to the club. A kitchen garden can either be part of the problem or the solution depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, a garden can offer tranquility and even save you time by reducing the number of trips you need to make to the grocery store. But for many newbies, a garden can easily spin out of control and turn into one more thing that needs to be defused.
I've been pondering the time implications of kitchen gardening recently and I blame it all on a bottle of explosively hot pepper sauce. The hot sauce in question is a bottle which took me nearly 8 months to produce, from earth to enchilada, and that's not the worst of it. What's more telling is that I finished making the sauce nearly 22 months ago and have only managed to write about how I made it now. My lame excuse? I didn't have the time, of course.
In my hot sauce's defense, it was delicious and met my most family's spiciness needs for a year and, in my own defense, the resulting online tutorial turned out pretty hot too, I think. So I'm not saying that either activity was a waste of time, but simply that both required time and energy that could have been used in other ways.
Spending time thinking about gardening's time implications may sound like the ultimate time suck, but it's a question that every kitchen gardener must address at some point in his or her life. I give quite a few talks and interviews each year and one of the questions I get the most often goes something like this: "In our busy, go-go world, how do you find time to garden?" I sometimes reply with a question of my own: "How do you find time to breathe, eat, and take care of those you love?" Mine isn't facetious; I ask it to get people thinking about what they make time for and what they don't.
Whenever we define something as critical to our physical or mental well-being or that of our family, whether it really is or not, we find time for it. If more people aren't growing some of their own food, it's not because they don't have the time, but rather because they haven't defined gardening as a priority activity.
I don't judge those who haven't made time for gardening. We're all busy in our own ways and a world of people who all had the exact same interests and priorities would be boring not to mention completely dysfunctional. That said, I think it's important to push back against those who say they don't keep a garden because it takes too much time.
It does take time, but it's time well invested when one considers what a garden is capable of yielding in terms of healthy food, recreation, financial savings, and environmental benefits. And, frankly, most people have some time to spare. According to a Time magazine article from 2006, the average American "finds" nearly 3 hours a day for watching TV with men watching roughly 20% more than women.
So how do we grow more time for gardening and cooking in our own lives? It may sound simplistic to answer "turn off the TV," but limiting the screen-time (TVs, computers, smartphones, etc.) in our lives is a good place to start. When my family and I went TV-free in 2005, we found that we suddenly had a lot more time for not only gardening and cooking, but also for other nourishing activities like reading and family board game nights. Some TV programs have since crept back into our life via our computers, but the experience of being TV-less for a few years has made us more selective about what we watch and when.
Turning off the TV is also not just about saving time, but also limiting our exposure to all the shiny new stuff that advertisers claim we need in order to feel happy. When we turn off the TV, even if it's just for one or two nights per week, we step off the rat race treadmill which Annie Leonard so cleverly describes in her "Story of Stuff" video.
Ultimately, kitchen gardening is not simply just an another activity, but a lifestyle. If you're going to try to keep up with the Joneses in terms of buying all the stuff, taking all the trips, having your kids signed up for all the activities they need in order to keep up with the Junior Joneses and working the long hours you'll need to work to pay for it, you're probably going to have a hard time fitting a successful and peaceful garden into the mix.
But for those desiring greater harmony with themselves, nature and the seasons, a kitchen garden offers a pathway to a simpler and more wholesome lifestyle. What you spend in time and sweat, you'll be generously repaid in health, well-being, and, if you're like me, all the hot sauce you can comfortably eat in a year.
The post above was featured in the December 2010 KGI Newsletter and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Feel free to reproduce it on your own website or blog citing me as author with a link back to KGI's site. The photo is also in the Creative Commons. Please credit synx508 for that.
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