One of the main questions that stops people short of venturing into the world of gardening and canning is this one: just how much time is this going to take? It is a valid question; and one that every person might answer differently, depending on how much care they want to put into the garden, what degree of productivity they expect from it, and how anal they are about its beauty-factor.
I can't really answer the question for you, but what I can do is give you a "schedule of events" during the 60 to 90 minutes I might spend on any given day with my garden.
7:15 Sipping my coffee and gazing out at the just-breaking dawn, I plan my morning's work related to gardening and canning.
7:21 Put the canner on to boil. Add jars to the already-loaded dishwasher and start a sanitizing cycle.
7:50 Canner starts to hiss. Put the vinegar-spice mix on to boil.
7:52 Drain the cut veggies that I put in a salt water soak last night. Rinse and drain again. Vinegar comes to a simmer.
8:03 Start the hose to water the garden. Leave it to soak one section.
8:10 Pour a second cup of coffee and walk the garden, looking for new produce to pick.
8:14 Add the veggies to the vinegar mixture.
8:15 Move the hose to water a new patch of the garden.
8:17 Suddenly remember to prep the canning lids. Race back inside to put water in the microwave to boil. Pull hot jars from the dishwasher.
8:22 Ladle mixed pickles into jars.
8:26 Clear air bubbles, wipe rims and apply caps and rings.
8:30 Jars go into the canner to process 10 minutes. Meanwhile, go outside and water potted herbs with a watering can after moving the hose to its last watering spot.
8:44 Jars are out of the canner and the hose is turned off. Slice and freeze the last of the green peppers that didn't make it into the pickle mix.
The sun has risen above the neighbor's house--but not too much higher since I started my work. It's 100% consuming for the time you dedicate to it, but it doesn't have to take you all day to have a fruitful gardening and canning life.
And it's a great way to connect with another aspect of old traditions--the idea of the weekly rhythm. While you may not have baking day or washing day or such, you will have weeding day and canning day, pruning day and fertilizing day. Walking through the rotation gives a mysterious flow to life in the garden that--for me anyway--translates well to help me avoid getting too myopic, too obsessive with one aspect of life, forgetting other important elements.
Sign off today: Happy balance!