Life of the Substitute Gardener

So sorry this post is a day late coming to you. The life of a substitute gardener is a busy one, I’m telling you. I don’t know how you gardening people find time to do anything else.

As you may know, Hubby is away canoeing. I’m pleased for him. It’s his second trip this year, and I’m thankful he’s not going alone this time. And this week, while he’s away, I’ve been doing garden duty.

We have a big vegetable garden. And harvest time is upon us. So, I’ve been picking tomatoes, and processing tomatoes, and freezing tomatoes. And picking peppers, slicing them up, and arranging them on cookie sheets to freeze. We then store them in bags in the freezer to use on pizzas, and in soups and stews in the winter. We are inundated with cherry and grape tomatoes. Way too many to eat. We gave a lot away. And this year I tried something I saw on-line. Freezing them individually, on cookie sheets, like the pepper slices, and then placing in bags. I’m hoping they will be good in pasta sauces in the winter.

Oh, and let’s not forget the dreaded beans. I don’t dread eating them… just the picking. You’ve probably heard the story of how I was scarred emotionally as a teenager by my bean-picking experiences. Oh, my god. I used to dread so much my mum saying, “The beans are ready.” Then being handed a five gallon pail and sent out to the garden. Where, when one crouched to pick, the rows and rows of bean plants stretched up the hill to the horizon. I’m serious. Well, partly. But gad, I used to find bean-picking boring. When I’d much rather have been ensconced on the porch with my book.

Hubby and I had an agreement when we first got together. I don’t do gardening. Especially beans. But, over the years, my guilt won out. At least we only have a couple of rows. And I only pick when Hubby is away. Like now.

Two nights this week the weather network threatened frost. So I hightailed it out to the shed and, using the stash of old sheets Hubby has collected, I draped all the tomato and pepper plants, running back and forth to spread the sheets, clip them together with clothespins, and weigh the edges down with bricks. Then there was no frost. The next morning I pulled all the sheets off, and put the bricks back, hung the sheets on the clothesline because they were wet with dew. Dried them and put them away. Then had to do the exact same thing all over again the next night.

As it turned out the forecaster was wrong… again. I guess I could have chanced not covering the second night. But as the substitute gardener, and not the real gardener, I was too nervous to take the risk. I tell you, it’s stressful looking after Hubby’s garden.

wild grapes along my walking path
Too bad Hubby is not making wild grape wine anymore.

Still, it hasn’t been all garden time since Hubby has been gone. I did find time to make and edit that closet-turning video, and post on my blog. And on Sunday I visited my sister who is selling her house. I brought lunch with me and, after we ate, we went through her closet, and she assembled a huge bag of stuff to donate. Yesterday I had my hair cut. Carmen put a few low-lights in the front. To break up the solid white and add a bit of interest. The cut is amazing, but the low-lights didn’t quite turn out like I thought they would. Carmen loves them, and they do look good, but I’m still getting used to the new-ish look.

And of course, I’ve been walking. I saw that giant puffball below on my walk on Monday. Honest, it’s the size of a human skull. And actually looked like one before I moved in for a closer look. I think maybe I’m reading too many Elly Griffiths novels.

huge puff ball I saw on my walk
A puff ball as big as my very large head.

You know, I had all good intentions to shop and do lunch with friends and generally get out there into society this week. But funnily enough, I’ve not felt the urge. I shopped a bit at the mall after my hair appointment yesterday. Looking for pants to go with my new sweater. But two stores in I gave up and came home. “I don’t actually, really, totally need a new pair of pants,” I thought. And I didn’t even look for boots. The thing is, I’ve just really enjoyed my own company while Hubby has been away.

I seriously think I am becoming more introverted since I retired. Too much socializing just wears me out now. And I begin to long for quality alone time. I know, from reading, that introverts find socializing draining, and need alone time to recharge. While extroverts gain energy from being around people. I always used to think I was an extrovert. But now I’m not so sure. I loved being in the classroom. Loved the energy of kids. But maybe all those years when I was so exhausted come June, I was just in need of alone time to recharge.

I read this really interesting article today that has me thinking that I’m not one thing nor the other. I need both alone time and people time. So maybe I’m an ambivert.

my favourite path for a fall walk
My favourite local fall walking path.

Now, I must wrap this up because there are a dozen big tomatoes that need to be blanched. And I have to figure out what to cook for my supper. Something with leftovers for Hubby in case he’s hungry when he arrives home this evening, whenever that might be. Later this afternoon, I’ll do my work-out and have one final turn round the garden. Making sure everything is tickedy-boo. My last duty as substitute gardener. Can’t risk the wrath of the real gardener in the house.

Actually, I am happy that the gardener is coming home tonight. I’ve had enough alone time for a while. Later this evening, Hubby will pour himself a pint, and then soak in a long hot bath. Trust me he will need a bath. I will perch on the toilet lid with my wine. And we’ll tell each other the stories of our week apart. I confess that I might exaggerate the bean picking thing. Ha.

Your turn now, my friends. What have you been up to this week? Fall chores keeping you busy?


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30 thoughts on “Life of the Substitute Gardener”

  1. I think the extrovert/introvert thing is so interesting. A woman in my book group brought it up when she shared the book Quiet with us. I read it and took a test. I hadn’t realized that it’s not how outgoing you are but where you find energy and gain solace. It turns out I’m an introvert that everyone thinks is an extrovert. I’m very strong on the feeling parameter and can be quite outgoing but I have to have my alone time. I’m married to an extrovert and all he wants to do is invite people over or get together with others. This Covid situation is cramping his style! I found the charts on how to care for an extrovert/introvert helpful and true. I complimented my husband the other night while we had another couple over and I could tell he was so pleased inside. Thanks for the article.

    1. Yes, that was the book that really helped me understand — and explain to my family — how I could be an introvert when they so often saw me enjoying company. . . and especially since I obviously enjoyed performing for my classes. From what I understood (it’s a few years since I read Quiet), there tends to be a strong correlation between Sensitivity and Introversion — those of us who are more empathic, more attentive to others’ signals and/or needs are more quickly drained of energy than someone who, like my husband, is able to engage at a much less costly level. . .

    2. It’s so interesting isn’t it? I always thought I was an extrovert because I was so energetic in the classroom, loved yakking with parents etc. But I don’t think I am now. And while Hubby is comfortable in social situations, and not shy, chats away with strangers we meet when we travel, if he has a choice he prefers it to be just us, or a couple of friends. So I guess he is an ambivert too.

  2. Well you have been busy . We’ve been enjoying the garden & our ‘ Indian summer ‘ but no vegetables were involved , just flowers , birds , butterflies , dragonflies & damsel flies . My youngest sister visited yesterday & we sat out in the sunshine all afternoon catching up – there was plenty of book talk . One project recently was a squirrel proof bird feeder & , after over forty years of being thwarted , I think we’ve managed it ! It’s a dog crate raised up on four wooden posts which allows all the small birds in but no crows , pigeons or magpies etc & best of all , no squirrels . If you’ve experienced squirrels wrecking your bird feeders & hoovering up the bird food you’ll understand how we feel . There will still be food on the other tables for the biggies but now the littlies can relax in their own special area where passing birds of prey can’t get at them .
    I read the extrovert/introvert article & , as I suspected I’m midway like you . I can behave in an extrovert manner but only in a small group & I’m never the life & soul of the party . I’ve always thought good teachers needed to be extrovert ( all that being ‘on stage ‘ ) , maybe I’m wrong . I do think a mix of types is necessary . A room full of extroverts or introverts would be equally unpleasant 😁

    1. Our flowers always take second place after the vegetable garden. I know I should take them in hand… but I’m so not interested. Can’t imagine a room full of extroverts. Or total introverts. Wouldn’t that be annoying?

  3. Brava for all the gardening and processing work you did this week! Now you can have a guilt-free catch-up with your fellow over a glass of wine (and if you also share a Whine about the beans, that seems fair to me 😉

  4. Ambivert here with tendency towards introvert. Being in my own company is what I like best, time to think, gaze, ponder. I had to teach myself – by example – how to be more confident socially but I can take it off like a bright jacket when all that is over. I listened to a very interesting radio programme about just this subject recently (when I was, of course, by myself) and it made a lot of sense. I know one total extrovert who loathes being alone, needs at least four people just to get going and prefers a houseful. Unsurprisingly, she is a teacher and thrives on all the people. And now I am going back to my new book of photos, in silence. Good day.

    1. My grandmother had eight children, my grandfather, and two boarders to feed and look after. No wonder she retreated to her room every once in a while for a couple of days.

  5. Just looked at my garden and think I have been ambushed by an unannounced frost. It is so cold for being this early in September.

  6. I love the phrase “tickety-boo” 🙂 And gardening tales. I grew up on a farm where the garden supplied the bulk of the food for our extended family of 7, and I’m grateful for all it taught me. But my sweet husband talks me OUT of planting a garden every spring, so that he won’t have to work in it either! And he knows how much I love going to the farmer’s market every Saturday, too. So I’m grateful not to be fighting weeds and bugs during the hottest part of the year.
    It sounds like you’ve had a wonderful time during the canoe trip (and glad for you that he didn’t go alone). It’s very interesting to hear the comparison between what you thought your retired life would be and the reality. As someone with retirement firmly in the crosshairs, I’d LOVE to hear more about that!

  7. Thanks Sue for an entertaining post! Soon we too will do the sheets routine for first frost warnings here in Minnesota. Hope you and hubby enjoy your reconnect time.

  8. Your tales of being a substitute gardener reveal your care and respect for Stu and his love of gardening. My husband is also the gardener in our family. I didn’t inherit my mum’s green thumb and while I don’t do much in the garden, I love to pick and arrange our camellias, azaleas, bluebells and hellebores. The bluebells have been brilliant this year. We have some big trees on our suburban block. They are lovely but cast so much shade that there are only a few sunny spots for edible plants but we do have a good variety of herbs.

  9. Think that during this time of imposed isolation, some folks who consider themselves extroverts have discovered that perhaps it is not necessarily the case or maybe it is simply being out of circulation. My extroverted DD who has been working from home since March finds that spending time around too many people now absolutely drains her. She only socializes in a small bubble with two close friend’s and their families (luckily, all the husbands and children are good friends). But, recently, as a supervisor at work, she has had to go in her office to train new hires. Then two work colleagues died (not of Covid) and she had funerals to attend. These events absolutely exhausted her. Perhaps once face-to-face interactions become more common, folks will need to build up their tolerance for spending time with a lot of people.

  10. I always thought myself an introvert, but in recent years I think I’ve gradually become an ambivert. I’ve been thankful for the fact that I don’t mind my own company through these recent months of Covid though. I’d imagine that it’s been much more difficult for extroverts to cope.

    We have a very small garden, but the sheets have been out a couple of nights recently here too.

  11. Well that was a very interesting blog Sue. I read the article on introvert/extrovert and I did the quiz. I’m definitely an ambivert. I have actually really enjoyed my time during COVID…..You are a great “substitute” gardener!!

  12. Hi Sue, as you guys have an abundance of peppers and tomatoes Stu should check out how to make Lutinitsa, a traditional Bulgarian grilled pepper and tomato sauce that is bottled. Very tasty, our town smells like grilled peppers everywhere at the moment as so many make supplies for winter. I took the quiz and I am also an ambivert. I did not know the term but I have always called myself an Extroverted Introvert 🙂 Lise

  13. This is why I like flowers and shrubs and trees. If you get lazy, as I do, nothing so terrible happens. No crop per se to harvest. The risk is getting overcome by weeds. But to dig yourself out of that hole you can go into a sort of frenzy and exhaust yourself without precision. My very idiosyncratic approach to gardens. I wish I had your tomatoes!!!

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