If you're a newsletter subscriber, you've probably heard this all before (or at least a good portion of it) because I address lots of my FAQs in my newsletters.
How do you do it all?
This is a question that I get a lot. I have to admit that I don't really understand why people ask me that or how I'm supposed to answer it. How do you answer that question? There really isn't an easy way. But because I have gotten asked this so much lately, I thought maybe I'd try to finally answer it.
I really don't think I do anymore than any other person that lives a relatively normal, productive life. It's just that nearly everything that I do has a singular focus---being a homemaker. I love words and believe very much in their power. Think about that word for a minute. "Homemaker", one who makes a home. According to Merriam-Webster, a homemaker is "one who manages a home, especially as a wife or a mother." My hobbies, if you will, are all related to my home. My time is almost exclusively spent on cooking, cleaning, gardening and raising my kids. I do spend some time beading, crafting, sewing or reading (usually in a hot bath.) But even these "hobbies" usually end up benefitting my home. Other things I might spend time on, like Ellaberry, always takes a back seat to my role as a homemaker.
I've noticed that most of the folks who ask me this question are really busy outside their homes. They run errands all the time. They have hobbies that are unrelated to their homes. They have jobs ouside their homes. They're way more active in the community at large than I am. They're trying to fit gardening, cooking from scratch, urban homesteading, or home education into an already very full life. The difference I see is that these things are my entire life. It's what I do and who I am. (Big thanks to my favorite husband, Chris, who has helped make living this life possible! Thanks for the lifestyle, baby!)
I think it's just fine to have a paying job, spend your weekends on hobbies like golf, or spend your time at home not doing things to or for your home. The world needs us all. Different strokes and all. But that's not how I live. And maybe there's the answer. I don't do it all. Have no desire to. And it's a sweet life.
Where do you buy your plants and seeds?
I buy seeds and plants wherever I can find them when I find the varieties I'm looking for and that I can afford. Sometimes that means ordering from a catalog that does specialize in all the catch-phrases that certain folks seem to think makes a gardener a better human being. Sometimes that means picking up $1 or $2 packets at a local discount store. Sometimes that means seeking out a local grower. Same thing applies to the few plants that I don't start from seed.
Here's the thing. I can make myself crazy with trying to find exactly the "right" sources for everything for my garden. But once I get those seeds/plants home, no matter their source, I tend to them all the same healthy way. If I buy .10 American Seed packets from Atwoods (yes, I know who owns that seed company but I also know that nearly all of them are heirloom varieties that produce seeds I can save and replant year after year) and plant them in my garden and grow them up how I see fit, I bet you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between my plants and the ones someone paid 200 times the money for just so they can say they bought their seeds from a certain catalog if someone happens to ask, "Well, where do you buy your seeds and transplants?" Just sayin'. Aren't you glad you asked?
Do your kids help in the garden?
I have four babies. They don't particularly like to garden. Ok, they don't like it at all. And I don't make them help me. When people come over and exclaim to my 3 teenage daughters, "Do you know how cool this is?"...they just giggle. When my wee son is asked, "Do you help your mom in the garden?"...he merely grumbles. He might even roll his eyes. Or remind me that he'd just love to have an empty yard to kick a soccer ball in. Most of the time, they'd just rather go to Taco Bell.
Yet, each year, around June, they start saying things like, "Mom, when will we have a watermelon?" You might hear one of them say, "Those tomatoes from the store didn't taste that good. When will ours be ready?" I have even heard one of them tell a friend, "My mom grows the best broccoli!"
My oldest daughter is drawn outside with her camera to capture the seasonal shifts in minute, glorious detail (that even I, on my hands and knees and face to face with my plants, don't always see.) My middle daughter reminds me every now and then that she doesn't mind helping me outside and does so willingly. My youngest daughter once said, "I think the other yards in our neighborhood must look at ours and be so sad because they're so boring." My son valiantly protects our beds from any child or maruading dog who might accidentally trample on them.
My garden is my JOY thing and I've told my kids that if they can't bring joy outside with them, then to keep their grumpy butts inside. But, I have to tell you....even if they bring their grumpy butts outside, they typically go back in a little more joyful. For me, this is enough. I've planted a seed.
Do you ever go to the grocery store?
All. The. Time. Did I mention that I have four kids? I do spend a lot of energy acquiring our food from local sources (raw milk, cream and cheeses from Swan's Dairy in Claremore and nearly all our meat is local from farmer's markets and the Oklahoma Food Coop.) However, we run to the store a lot for certain things. We buy grain-based items (cereals, breads, crackers) because 1) I don't have the room to grow grains and 2) I don't make these items very often anymore for us---been there, done that. Priorities shift. We buy tea, sugar, bananas, apples, oranges, chocolate, tortilla chips and many other items. I do my best. But keepin' it real...we go the store a lot.
How much money do you save?
There's an old wives tale that says for every $2 you spend on gardening, you make back $20. I cannot confirm or deny this. But I will tell you that, after the years of putting the "bones" of your garden (which can be as cheap or expensive as you'd like it to be), you might be shocked at how much you save on produce. Typically, I don't buy produce except apples, oranges and bananas from about April through November. I'm sure there's some good savings in there. Anyone wanna crunch some numbers for me? ;)
Can my garden be on your edible garden tour?
I'm always scoping out gardens for the tour! It's typically the second weekend in June because that's when the edibles tend to look the best (lots of new growth and not too hot yet!) If you have a garden that predominantly features edibles, please contact me and I'll come see you and see if your place is a good fit! Email contact is best at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's an idea of what I look for: