Fruit growing is something that busy people fear they will struggle to fit into their lifestyle. It’s something we hear a lot when we run the Learn.Plan.Succeed course.
Do you think of yourself as a busy person?
As farmers for many years, our lives have been packed to the brim with growing fruit, raising 5 kids, and community involvement.
Along the way we’ve taken on a few big projects like setting up the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op, and the year-long RIRDC Rural Women’s Award that Katie did in 2015.
How to fit fruit growing into your life
We know from personal experience that when you’re busy, it feels hard to fit in the fruit growing.
Sound familiar? Maybe the details are different, but we bet that for most people reading this, there have been times in your life when it just feels like you can’t fit it all in.
But the bottom line is that fruit growing is too important to let it be squeezed out of your life. So, we can show you how to find ways to make room for it, no matter how busy you are.
What does “being busy” really mean?
When Katie was up to the eyeballs with the RIRDC project, here’s what she had to say about being busy…
“My theory is that “busy” is a code word that l (and lots of other people) use when what we really mean is overworked, stressed, under-supported, tired, financially burdened, worried, over-committed, important, in demand, or worthy of your sympathy! For me, busy had become my not-so-subtle way of saying to people (a) look how popular and ‘in demand’ I am; (b) isn’t the life of a farmer hard; (c) don’t expect me to take on anything else; and (d) look at me, I’m superwoman! None of which is actually true.”
So, we totally “get” the fear that a lot of gardeners have about being able to find the time to look after their fruit trees.
Focusing on crunch time in the garden
Growing fruit is seasonal. Most fruit trees only have a single crop each year. While that restricts the job of harvesting to a short time, it can be intense!
You only get one chance to gather the yield from your fruit trees, which means you need to get it right.
If there’s one main fruit growing job that you need to fit into your busy lifestyle, it’s picking the fruit. It’s important to get this part of the process right, or the rest of it is kind of pointless.
Of course, not all the return from your trees is measured in the amount of fruit you pick and the amount of money you save. They also provide a lot of intangible benefits like joy, satisfaction, and a boost to your physical and mental health.
But it’s hugely satisfying to actually harvest a significant amount of fruit!
Strategies for fitting fruit growing into your busy life
At harvest, your workload is imposed on you. There are the demands of picking and storing produce at peak condition.
There’s also the work of processing all that delicious food, and of course, recording everything.
It’s easy to feel that it’s out of your control – but of course, that’s not true. Here are a few tips for how to manage your time and fit your fruit-growing into your busy lifestyle.
- Visit your fruit trees for a few minutes at least once a week. This keeps you in touch with their progress and reduces the chance of nasty surprises.
- Write yourself an annual calendar so you understand which jobs need to be done at which times of the year.
- Check your calendar each month at least, so you know in advance which jobs you’ll need to fit in the next few weeks.
- Try to build in some regular gardening time to your lifestyle. It doesn’t need to be very long! If you know what job you need to be doing in advance, doing the spraying (for example) can be quick and efficient.
- Accept that during the peak of the fruit season there may be no extra time to catch up on regular gardening jobs. While you still need to make sure that the garden gets watered, jobs like weeding, pruning, and fertilising the trees can wait until you have more time.
- At the end of the busy time, take a moment to reflect on the season. Notice what worked, and what hasn’t worked. Could you introduce more efficiencies?
Gardening as an antidote to a busy lifestyle
When you’re feeling stressed and too busy, gardening can actually be the perfect antidote. It’s a uniquely productive kind of ‘busy’.
And remember, the more produce you can grow in your backyard, the less time you need to spend in the 9 to 5 grind earning money to buy food.
When you look at it that way, you might start to wonder how you’ll find the time to fit your job and the rest of your life around your busy gardening lifestyle!
Feel more connected to your food and better about the world by seeking out stories from farmers about how they grow your food.
Welcome to our organic farm in central Victoria where we empower people to grow their own organic, nutrient-dense food.
Many young people who have lived, worked, and eaten with us on the farm have ended up becoming new growers, even if they didn’t intend to!