This is currently just a rough draft
I enjoy gardening the most when it aligns with my broader philosophy of life, so I thought readers might like to see that philosophy and see how I apply it to gardening. These principles are in random order, just as they are in life. Sometimes my focus is on having fun, other times I'm focused on planning, still other times I just want to kick back and chat to my friends and neighbours.
In business and most aspects of life, I've been a big believer in the 80/20 rule or the pareto principle, which formally states:
The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes
What does this mean when it comes to gardening? well it definitely means that 80% of the harvest comes from 20% of the effort and that's a very powerful lesson to learn. The most productive 20% of your crops (spinach, lettuce, kale) probably deliver 80% of harvest value and most likely 80% of the micro-nutrients (but not calories) too. Thoroughly clearing weeds and applying a thick weed free compost mulch (20% effort), takes a few minutes at planting time, but gets you almost as good (80%) a harvest as weeding every week (which is the remaining 80% of effort, to get just 20% more harvest).
We are always on the lookout for the quick tasks, simple techniques, best varieties etc that give us the very best results for the least effort.
We apply the 80/20 rule in reverse when it comes to eating, i.e. 80% of what we eat is home grown or home made, healthy food and 20% is whatever's convenient or tasty, which for me often involves chocolate and it’s not always made from 85% cocoa!
I'm always trying to find balance in my life. At work I used to think of this as 'work life balance', but it's the same idea now that I've retired. I want a balanced set of indoor and outdoor hobbies, physical and mental, relaxing and challenging, social and solo, expensive and money saving, scheduled and unscheduled.
Gardening is mainly an outdoor, physical, relaxing, solo, money saving and scheduled hobby. So it's useful to balance it with, for example, reading, which is an indoor, relaxing, solo and unscheduled hobby. I also like hiking/cycling which are physical, challenging, social, expensive, scheduled hobbies and writing which is an indoor, relaxing, solo, unscheduled one.
There are of course a lot more dimensions of balance that might be important to you, but the concept is the same. A balanced life is much more resilient to injuries, bad weather, financial woes, disappointing failures, pandemics etc.
Having a lot of fun is very important to me, in fact it's one of the most important reasons that I garden, make YouTube videos etc. It's fun to push myself physically, to enjoy the beauty of a garden in full production, to watch plants grow, to eat them, to chat to neighbours and share what we grow. It's interesting to note though that most of the fun is coupled with effort.
Sometimes it's not quite as much fun as a good book or hiking in the Lake District, but it's ultimately more purposeful and purpose matters. Gardening with kids is close to the pinnacle of fun for me!
As a family we are all involved in some way in gardening and that makes it extra special. While I focus on the planning, seed sowing and seedlings; Debbie does her fair share of planting, growing and harvesting. Debbie is also very interested in preserves and developing her own recipes. The kids muck in to help with the bulk harvest days and big jobs. Our first grandchild has grown up on the allotment, knows where all of his food comes from and loves to help with planting. We are all passionate about home grown fruit and veg and don't care if it's not approved supermarket shapes and sizes.