Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Sweat Equity

75°f this morning, 24°C, humid, slight overcast.  

Do you ever have a day when you never quite get to the things you planned to do when you got up? That was today for me.

It started out as planned, at least. We were up early to get the watering done. But while in the garden I noticed that the broccoli needed to be cut, and there was squash to be picked and if we didn't pull the peas soon they would be no good. 

So painting projects and ebay got shoved aside. I thought I would still get to them, but we wanted to finish up that Hoosier cabinet we have been cleaning, so after shelling the peas and getting them and the broccoli blanched and vacuum-sealed for the freezer, I began scrubbing.  And scrubbing.  And scrubbing. By then it was 4:30 and time to start dinner.

In all, it was a good day really, just not what I expected. It always feels good to get our produce stored away. Tonight's dinner was a good example of the results of all the sweat and work:

steamed broccoli and buttery squash straight from the garden, stuffed peppers from last year's garden that I had in the freezer, trout given to us by our friend Jeff, which was also stashed in the freezer and seasoned with homemade ramp salt, and homemade tartar sauce.

For this meal the only things we bought at the store were the oil and flour to fry the fish, the aluminum foil that wrapped the stuffed peppers, butter, rice, mayonnaise to make the tartar sauce,  and salt and pepper.  To drink we had orange-pineapple juice I canned last year, mixed with ginger ale. All those drink ingredients, of course, came from the store.

Now I suppose some might say, yeah but it costs money to grow a garden, and is it worth it? Honestly, peas are not cost-effective. I ended up with about 4-5 pints, I suppose. Figure up the cost of the seed, and then time and effort to plant, cultivate, stake, and shell, well...but the taste! So it's a trade-off, I guess. For almost everything else, gardening is a money-saver--that is, once you have been at it a while and have all the equipment! For a beginner, the cost of a tiller, tools, fencing, watering supplies, and preservation supplies might be daunting. Most of these things last for years, though, so the cost has to be reckoned over a long time.

The biggest factor in a decision to have a garden, though, is will it be enjoyable? Because if a person doesn't like the work involved, it will seem like a burden. I remember as a child how I complained and whined about weeding, stringing beans, etc! I would much rather have been on my bike or roller-skating. Larry was the same growing up. He hated his Dad's gardens. 

And yet here we are, spending most of our summer doing those things we used to hate. These days, though, being out there is the most relaxing part of my day, and I always come back to the house in a happy mood. Even if I find, like this morning, that the #$%!&# deer have visited in the night and eaten the celosia I had carefully raised from seed. Even that can't cancel the pleasure of being in the garden early in the morning, surrounded by the songs of birds, the busyness of the bees, and the scent of the tomato plants as I brush against them.

By the way, there is a backstop to the drinking glass in the picture. I posted a picture of this glass on Facebook, and a friend wrote to tell me that her family had a personal connection to those glasses. All I knew about them was that I remembered Old Virginia jams and jellies coming in them in the 1950s-60s. Jane told me that her family had owned a farm near Front Royal, Virginia, and they grew apples and other stone fruits as well as a wide variety of berries. Some of their produce was sold to Old Virginia, which made the jam and jellies right there in Front Royal. Just in the past few months the farm finally passed out of her family, but she still has a dozen of these glasses.

Front Royal was a town I often visited, and wanted to move there when my first husband and I decided to move away from Manassas, which had grown too much too fast. But he eventually got his job transferred to Charleston,  WV, and that is how I ended up here along the Ohio River. After our divorce, he did move to the Front Royal area, but here I still am on the land we bought in 1975.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


  1. 10C here. Are you lucky with your weather and peas!!! I remember when I was a kid we hopped on the push bike and "stole" fresh peas from a huge field.
    It must be so great to grow your own veggies.And the dinner looks SO GOOD. As your drink, hmmmm....
    The costs. Hm. And the fun, the pride? Priceless, I´d say.
    Interesting glass-story, too.

  2. Thanks for great looking produce/meal! I love fresh grown things from a garden, but alas, physical limitations and living conditions have me without any veggies at all. (Not allowed because of bear visitors). I used to go to a raised bed community garden, but it and I kind of withered in interest. Yes, yes, though, the wonderful feeling of early day working with plants! That's the time I do spend on my porch with my pots of flowers, and there's an energy exchange where I just suck up a lot of fresh morning air and the joy of growing things.

  3. Food from a garden is the best. It makes you feel proud when all the food is harvested and you know you did it. It is hard work but it does beat going to the store to buy that stuff. Fresh is best. Enjoy, I know you will. :)

  4. Lots of vegetables...I can't eat broccoli at them, but they hate me to the gut :-( Had broccolini yesterday, my stomach bloated a bloody day...

  5. Do I understand? Boy, do I ever. It's a lovely haul from your garden and yes...peas are worth it!

  6. What a long strange trip it's been.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Comments are moderated so may not appear immediately, but be assured that I read and enjoy each and every word you write, and will post them as quickly as possible.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...