Ever Feel Overwhelmed?

ekgrowsSeptember 10, 2012

I love gardening, have done it since birth. Not only is it my hobby, but it is my job. I grow, plant and pick at work, then come home and do it more. It has been a good year for the gardens - I have bumper crops of almost everything. But there is too much. It dawned on me the other day that one of the reasons I have a garden is so that I can eat fresh food from it. Well - this year, not so much. There has been so much that if I don't spend the time preserving it, it will all go bad! Let's face it - there is only so much you can eat! So while I have had fresh green beans and broccoli a couple times, most is in the freezer. My life for the past month has been like this : Gee - all 10 heads of cabbage are ready at the same time, better freeze it for cabbage soup. Too many cucumbers, time to make pickles. Picked 30 lbs of tomatoes today, and will pick 30 more in 2 days, better make salsa again, and have BLT's for dinner with some of those pickles I made. Hmm - all my peppers are red, better pick another 30 or so before they rot. Grapes are ready? Ok - I can freeze that juice to make jelly later, and what? I have to pick those again? The fridge is full, and look, I found the 5 eggplants I picked last week, guess I better eat them before they go in the compost pile! LOL.

Thought I was caught up yesterday - the garden was picked, pickles made, squash frozen, tomatoes sauced, and it dawned on me that my pears are falling. Really? Now I have to deal with bushels and bushels of pears? Too many to eat fresh, so I'll can some cinnamon pears, and make wine with the rest. By then, I'll have zucchinis the size of baseball bats, more tomatoes, more EVERYTHING!

So - I guess this season has been a little overwhelming for me. And I sure am not complaining - Thank the good Lord for blessing me with so much food! And I've been able to give a lot to friends and family, which is also a blessing to them. All the hard work is worth it - I will be very thankful come winter when I can actually ENJOY some of the food I grew, and my social life won't take a back seat to what needs to be picked, canned, frozen, cooked NOW!

Okay - venting over. Just something that has been on my mind, and I thought some people here might be able to relate. :)

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I know exactly what you mean. I spent so long canning the other day there was no way I was cooking diner. Hubby picked up pizza and wings on the way home. I sat eating and watching the kids eat thinking that yes, they are kids and deserve to have pizza once in a while, but really with all the fresh food up to our ears we are serving them take out?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 3:31PM
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Exactly. But who has the time/energy to cook with all that produce to put up?

One solution I've been using is to chop up a bunch of tomatoes, summer squash, green onions, what have you, and add a couple of cans of tuna, top with cheese slices, and pop into the oven for 45 or so at 400F. Easy no fuss dinner, and you've used produce and saved money.

Works for me. Sometimes I use meat instead of tuna...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 4:00PM
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Another good option when you're really overwhelmed is to donate excess to a food pantry or kitchen. There are a lot of them who would love to have your excess.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 4:13PM
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I'm not complaining either, but after dealing with produce every single day for the last two months, right now I can't look at another tomato or zucchini on my plate. And I will be whining in a couple of months about "Boy, I wish we had fresh tomatoes..." LOL

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 4:28PM
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I was thinking the same thing today, so much time spent processing for the winter, I rarely get to cook up a fancy meal with all my fresh produce. At least I enjoy simple meals with it. Thank goodness someone on the gardenweb told me 2 yrs ago that I can just pop my tomatoes in the freezer and make something with them later. I manage to make a few rounds of sauce with fresh tomatoes, then I put the rest of them in the freezer for chili and more sauce, later.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:15PM
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I have to freeze all these tomatoes b/c I just haven't been able to keep up with canning them (only got to make 2 batches of salsa this week). But I've got to blanch and freeze zucchini too - Ds refuses to eat any more squash, and I swear DD hasn't actually eaten that many cherry tomatoes b/c I've been selling them but she's so sick of smelling tomatoes cooking all week she refused them tonight so we had scrambled eggs (DS had salsa on his) for dinner. Oh, but I wanted to stock the freezer with meat before prices go up.

My onions are pitiful, I didn't water them in July when it was so dry, I bought 2 to make salsa but now I need more to make sauce. And DH picked a couple gallons of Concord grapes, the smell has been driving me crazy all day, I've got to make juice or jelly tomorrow just to get rid of them!

So I can relate...

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:02PM
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Oh, yes. I contemplated bringing a bowl of tomatoes with me to Bible class Sunday so I could multi-task, chopping and seeding them while learning about King David. Figured it would be rude. I've also taken popcorn off the cob, and snapped green beans, in the car while at stoplights, and watched a LOT of TV on the laptop while dealing with the tomatoes.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 11:41PM
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I can absolutely relate! Worrying that I may have to purchase apples (last year I learned the lesson about the $5 quarts of homemade applesauce), my nephew just bought property with 11 apple and pear trees. Absolutely loaded. I can't let them go to waste!!! Oh, but yes I can. I had to learn to say "no"........to myself.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 11:43PM
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I know the feeling -- last week I called myself the walking dead of food preservation. I do donate a lot, but it still must be picked, cleaned and bagged up. Last week a friend brought over the special needs young man she takes care of two days a week, and the three of us picked apples and pears for the local fresh food pantry, and I didn't have to sort and wash them. We all had fun for a change!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 7:32AM
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david52 Zone 6

Here in a very short growing season, there is a frantic period in late May-Early June getting everything set out in the garden and protected from the winds and such, then just two months of just irrigating and weeding until the first week of September, maybe pick some kale, peas, few apricots, summer apples, nothing big.

Then the fun starts in September, and this year, I have bushels of apples on top of the normal deluge of tomatoes, peppers, onions, squash, okra, etc. etc.

I discovered that the easiest way to deal with an oversupply of apples is to use one of those peeler/corer things but leaving the peel on, slice and core them - I can do a bushel in about 30 minutes. They either go in the freezer or dehydrator.

I discovered two days ago that carefully lining up each apple slice on the dryer trays so all the trays fit in isn't necessary. Using every other tray, I can just heap up the slices two inches thick, and they dry out just fine.

Still 20 qts of salsa, 20 qts of tomato sauce, and 3 apple trees to go. Snow in the mountains tonight, so soon here is the "day we pick everything".

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 10:12AM
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Love it everyone!!!! I knew there were some others going thru this as well. Dealing with all the produce is a full time job in itself! Funny - I cook pretty much every night, EXCEPT during canning season. That's when dinner is picked up / delivered the most! There is no time to make dinner when I'll be canning until 9! And the comment about snapping green beans in the car at stoplights cracked me up! I tried to slice cukes the other day in front of the tv so I could watch a little bit of the bears game, but I need a tv tray or something - was a little awkward. Or maybe I just need to move the tv into the kitchen on Sundays!

Gotta go pick now. BLT's for dinner tonight maybe BLAT's if I have any avocado left - yummy :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 6:45PM
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I spent about 45 minutes today on my lunch hour picking tomatoes. I estimate I collected at least 12 pounds of yellow pear and San Marzano paste tomatoes. There are 5.5 pounds in the Tupperware bowl alone. And these were just the tomatoes that were easy to reach.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:28PM
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gardengrl(Northern Virginia)

You all have given me a great idea to make some extra money; I don't know why I didn't think about it before!

"Canning Helper for Hire"

Hmmmm....what do you think? LOL! I should talk as I haven't even had time to can much for myself this year!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:21PM
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I certainly can relate! I am so thankful for all the produce to harvest and don't want to complain but I do get really tired. but then in winter, I'm glad for it and will do it again the next year if I'm able.

Right now I have 1 bushel of green beans picked and probably another to pick. I have cherry roma tomatoes in the dehydrator and about 2 gallons to dry. We've dried 4 1/2 bushels of sweet corn (it's better than frozen when re-hydrated!). Okra to dehydrate.

Ellen, please don't let those pears and apples go to waste!! If you can't use them, find someone who can use them. I would love to have pears to can!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 8:01AM
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Even though it has been very dry this year, I have had a great crop yield from my little garden. Dealing with that has caused me to get way behind on the other outside work that needs to be done before winter.

My solution is to have a "working birthday party" for myself. Invited all the kids & grandkids to come over, help me get the work done, then I will feed them. Just pray for no rain on Sunday!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 7:20AM
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gardengrl, I think that's a bang up idea!

Yes, I can also relate. I tend to can/jelly/pickle everything I can get my hands on.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, LOL), this was a hot, dry year here in Michigan. First we had a late frost, that destroyed the apples, pears, plums, peaches, cherries and apricots. Then the round of days over 100F and no rain started. I watered but the cucumbers just dried up and died, turnips turned too bitter to eat.

finally it rained. A short time later we had a derecho, the 65MPH winds took the blueberry crop from 9 weeks to 3 weeks in short order. What a crazy year.

Even zucchini didn't do worth a darn, but some things loved it. Sweet potatoes, peppers and tomatoes. I just picked 7 five gallon buckets of tomatoes, a combination of Great White, Mortgage Lifter, Rutgers and Golden Jubilee. I've given up even trying to eat all the Sungold.

The potatoes, sweet potatoes and butternut squash are all waiting for me, and I have so much kale that I've been pulling it and feeding it to the horses. Who knew they loved it, LOL.



    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 11:43PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Yeah, I only feel overwhelmed most years in August and September. This year I'm unemployed, but signed up with our local gleaners. Sheesh..........I thought I was going to have MORE time to can.
NO! I just have more STUFF to can! Plus I'm volunteering with Master Food Preservers and teaching canning classes.

What the HE!! was I thinking?

I love every exhausted minute and know that come winter, I'm going to be very glad I was so tired for 2 months!
I think.

If you really are going to have produce go to waste, you might see if there's a local gleaners group. Don't know about others, but here we go pick and the gleaners take half, the owner decides what to do with their half. They can keep it (free labor on the picking that way) or donate to the local food bank. If they donate, we do the delivery and mail them a tax receipt if they wish.

Win/win all the way around. It's been a wonderful experience to be able to participate this year.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:56AM
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Yes, but not as much as you must with all you have to do. Right now I have a box of beets, a box of tomatoes, a bag of green beans, some jalapenos, peaches, zucchini and Laredo peppers to put up and DH says, "Its good weather to take the motorhome out". Geez!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Cool nights have slowed everything down a lot. No longer do I have to pick tomatoes every 2 days, it is 3 or so now - which helps :) Peppers have slowed down a lot too. I do sell some tomatoes, and give a lot of everything away, so really nothing has gone to waste yet. My sister has 6 kids, so she is always happy to take veggies off my hands.

Picked most of the pears, and I could still get more, but would need to do some interesting maneuvering to get the rest. I think I'll let them be - I have about 100 lbs, and no more room on my dining room table to hold them until they ripen

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 7:11PM
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Annie - same here for the most part. I've worked with an orchard for years, and the late frosts took out pretty much their entire apple crop. They aren't even opening this year. I bought this house from the man that built it - he was a brick mason, and built it himself as his retirement home. He also planted pears, plums and apples, and he knew what he was doing. They are on the west side of the house, close enough so that the heat from the brick must have been what protected them. I did water my fruit trees - for the first time ever this year. The pears are smaller than normal, but I also didn't thin them enough.

And just to add to my plate, I decided this was the year that I was FINALLY going to utilize the black walnuts my boss has in his yard. 8 or 9 trees. have a 5 gallon bucket of them hulled and curing as we speak, and more are falling daily. I feel there must be a fine line between hobby and sickness! But hey, at least I stay busy and out of trouble! Lol.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 8:25PM
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labour_of_love(z3A, NEK Vt)

Most of the time, 'overwhelmed' is the norm. However - I have an 10'x10' walk-in cooler that makes things a bit easier AND I let friends and neighbors use it whenever they need to. Lots of shelves and some meat hooks for halves of pigs, beef, or deer.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 3:14PM
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I am new to this so I am not feeling overwhelmed yet. I did get 45 lbs or green roma tomatoes that I made 3 batches of green tomato relish using the Mrs. Wages seasoning.

My problem is that where I live and not many people can or garden so I am considered some what a freak and end up being the butt of many jokes. This hurts and angers me.

But then I get comments in joking fashion "if we have a global problem we know where to go to get food!"

My husband said take that as a compliment. It still hurts, I get tired of stupid comments like "You do not watch TV? OMG how do you survive!!!"

Getting called a freak etc. So it is very nice to find this website, for once I feel like I fit in :) Sorry had to vent

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Norwayaha, don't get discouraged. Those who make fun of you will soon realize that you're onto something when they see you serving up your canned goodies. Look for your local county extension office, stop by and get pamphlets and other handouts. See if they have a master preserver class and join in. Find out where the local grange is.. while granges are loosing steam in many parts of the country.. they're still out there. Soon your circle of canning friends will grow and you'll feel right at home.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:51PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Norwayaha, where about do you live? Are there many gardeners? A farmer's market of any kind? A Master gardeners program? Often there are more home canners around than you may be aware of. And the county extension office canfan mentioned is a excellent source of contacts too.

But if not then please know that you are one of a very large and growing family.

And I agree with your husband, take it as a compliment. In fact nothing puts them in their place faster than if you smile and reply, "Thank you for the nice compliment." :)


    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:14PM
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Dont get discouraged! I'm in my mid twenties, and am the ONLY one other than my mother and grandmother who can their own food. People who dont grow their own food, or can their own livelihood just dont get it. Being in the generation I am, I especially become the "butt" of the jokes... until I cook the best damn chilli in the middle of winter with all home grown ingredients :)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:37PM
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norwayaha, I'd echo what others have said to you...don't get discouraged by others' comments. I've been looked at like I've grown a second head when I tell people that I can. Then I look at my pantry full of food and just laugh.

I don't have a garden at this time, but DH works for a non-profit in a farming community nearby. His friends (many of whom are farm workers) are very generous, and I never know what will be in the trunk of the car when he gets home...a couple of weeks ago, it was 3 HUGE cabbages (now quietly turning into sauerkraut), a week or so before that, it was nearly a half-bushel of red and yellow bell peppers, and a grocery bag full of eggplant. I'm thankful for all of this bounty, and really don't want to waste any of it, so I've come up with some creative ways of using and saving a lot of different things. It can be overwhelming, albeit in a different way than having your garden producing everything at once, but I'm not arguing!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:00PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Why would you allow such obviously stupid comments to hurt you?

Take pride in your achievements and take back your power.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 3:53AM
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I concur! Don't get discouraged by stupid/hurtful comments. I'm the only one in my friends & family that cans. I don't garden as I work a lot and am in the reserves so I really don't have time to tend to a garden but I buy bulk produce from a local family farm.

My friends and family used to make fun of me for canning, until all the recalls on everything from "natural & organic" peanut butter to lettuce, and now they are asking me how to can and if I can give them tips! lol

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 8:58AM
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missemerald(7 (Virginia))


I love canning. My mom taught me from a early age how to can and I've been doing it ever since. However, a lot of my closest friends have just never understood it, mostly because they didn't have any exposure to canning growing up. There's a whole generation of folks that never did a lot of things from scratch; it was just bought at the store. Why make jam when the store sells it? You want to do WHAT with those tomatoes? I just kept smiling and doing what I do. My daughters, 12 and 5, help now. We've given some of our goodies away for holidays and now, sure enough, those same folks are asking questions like "is it hard to learn to do?" I guess what I'm saying is take pride in what you do... everyone is good at something (I can, but I can't scrapbook to save my life) and this is what you like to do and love. A lot of the snarky comments you get are most likely from ignorance. If those around you don't appreciate it, at least your own family does. And, unlike scrapbooking, you get to eat your hobby! A win-win, if you ask me. I love going to my canning closet and getting a jar of something out for dinner... it is something that I made from produce that we grew or picked, and you can't put any pricetag on that.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:01PM
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msmarieh(Z5/N IL)


First, I wouldn't assume that they are making fun of you. It might just be gentle teasing (and as stated, you can choose to think of it as a compliment - you don't have control over their comments, but you do have control over your reaction to their comments).

Second, consider using this as an opportunity to educate your friends and family. I talk about how I know what goes into the jars. I am living a greener life (growing my own food) and the food I make is absolutely delicious. Plus I am saving money (when I use my own home grown ingredients). I share jars with them (with instructions to return the jars when done). When they have tasted my "tastes like summer in a jar" peach jam or fresh salsa using my homegrown tomatoes and peppers, they are sold.

As to a comment like why make jam when there is jam sold in a store, my response is: Find me peach jelly. Find me blueberry peach jam or blackberry lavendar jam. You can't! With home canning, I get to make wonderful combinations that literally aren't available in the stores (except perhaps for $9 a pint at a farmer's market where, guess what? they are doing their own canning!).

Most of all, I feel connected to generations of women before me who nurtured their families with home canned goodies. I'm making sure lost arts aren't truly lost.

Although people may not understand loving a hobby that is so much work, many more people are receptive to the idea than you might realize, with just a little education. So often the response I receive is "I always wanted to try canning, but I didn't know anyone who did it."

You might be pleasantly surprised!

Now all that said, oh heck yeah, I feel overwhelmed at times. Putting up 50-75 pounds of peaches during the summer and pounds and pounds of tomatoes/peppers/etc. in the fall is definitely a daunting proposition at times, especially since I work full time.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:23PM
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