HOME > Chowhound > Gardening >


Do you LIKE gardening?

I'll admit it - not entirely (someimes I even loath it!)

I've not admitted this to my fellow community gardeners who plan and nuture and blog about their plots. They can be a bit strange . . . they even have their own 'gardenhound' like sites! I'd get run off the land.

But I do love the food it produces. And that's why I tend my garden in the rain and the dead heat and humidity of summer. And spends hours serving, cooking, and preserving the results.

So do you garden for gardening's sake or for a chow's bounty?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. >>So do you garden for gardening's sake or for a chow's bounty?<<

    Yes and yes.

    It's a pain in the butt in the beginning to level the place, hoe the rows, make the beds -- but it's working out in the fresh air 'til past dark, turning on the headlights to see what you're doing, and hoping that rustle in the bushes is a deer or a turkey and not that bear that was sighted nearby -- or worse, a skunk.

    Even the hard part of gardening is fun, but the rewards are so worth it -- tomatoes that taste like tomatoes; carving our own pumpkins for Halloween; not having to buy potatoes from October through April or so; broccoli and green beans through December (via the freezer); and stuffed cabbage up the wazoo.

    I may curse like a sailor during the early going, but it is worth the work, which makes the work fun. Even if I can't walk right for a few days.

    2 Replies
    1. re: harrie

      for the food...there is nothing more satisfying then planting a seed, watching it grow and eat the rewards. plus knowing exactly what my growing conditions are and having 'cheap' organic produce. the health rewards are amazing when you look at how depleted our commercially farmed soil is.

      if I was just gardening flowers...they would most likely die. I have to really get a reward for my labour.

      that being said, as I am doing the harder labour, digging, tilling, then later sowing, it is very rewarding to feel like you worked hard during the day in the sun.

      1. re: harrie

        "stuffed cabbage up the wazoo. "

        That doesn't sound right...

        But anyway, at this point, more for the result then the process. Things that are hard or expensive to buy just right. Like apicots,sugar snaps, figs, red peppers, specialty garlic. Now that it's easy to get heirloom tomatoes, pluots, shallots, fava beans from my CSA, or at the farmers market, doesn't seem worth growing them anymore. I used to love it more, but I think I let it get too big. And by May, it's usually hit triple digits, and is close to that for the next 6 mos, with no rain, so fall and winter gardens are WAY more fun.

      2. I love yard work, not only my garden but tons of plants and ornamental, I have cacti, at my house before I sold it I had mango, avacado and several fruit trees, lots of veggies, first because I love working in the yard and second because what it produces. I would rather work out in the yard even in 95 degrees then inside doing laundry or cleaning. I am an outdoor gal and love using more smoker, grill, yard work, etc. I love cooking but don't have much time, but enjoy it when I get the chance. But still refuse to spend hours cooking something when I can get the same results in 1/3 the time. If I want fish, I fish not buy it, that is if I can. Fruit and veggies local markets, not a speciality store. I try to make the best with what I can afford, what I have time for and what I enjoy.

        Gardening is relaxing for me. Many times at 5am, I am on my porch taking care of my plants or in the front. My small greenhouse has some fresh summer veggies and 3 hanging tomatoes which are abundantly producing right now. I love them.

        1. Love it when I'm in the mood, not consistently. A day outside in the dirt, working really hard and getting alot done is relaxing and very satisfying. It really does clear my head. Of course the harvest is a wonderful treat. BUT I never seem to stick with it all season. Some of the beds get too weedy, things don't get watered, etc. The stuff that's close to the house gets the best treatment. Out of sight, out of mind can be the sad truth here.

          1. I am a very minor gardener - a 15'X15' plot at our cabin (tomatoes, bush beans, peppers, kale, etc.), and some herbs and lettuce in window boxes on the apartment balcony. But I love it, and not just for the results, which are...undependable. I like taking care of the plants. I feel there's something sort of miraculous about seeds sprouting and growing and producing food, just because I stuck them in the ground. But if I actually had to subsist on what I can grow, I'd be dead. It's about the process (sez the girl with easy access to Whole Foods & Fresh Direct).

            1. well, I started out with just a teeny veggie garden growing nothing but herbs and lettuce but as the years have passed it's gotten bigger and bigger and is filled with a larger variety of plants. I'm not an obsessive ornamental gardener but do like to grow things that are beautiful and beneficial - basil has the most amazing flowers and brings in a ton of bees, carrots when left to flower attract hordes of beneficial insects, nasturtiums add a peppery bite to salad and are great for filling in gaps. I could talk for hours about the different varieties of tomatoes I'm trying this year and how I expect them to affect the salsa and tomatoe sauce I'll be preserving later in the season, and I'm a regular participant in a couple of those *gardenhound* sites.
              I guess I like to garden with a purpose. I plant with a view to growing as much as the family can eat, and bringing in the bees, butterflies and birds. My perfect day ends with me wandering the garden, glass of wine in hand, checking things over, filling the bird feeder and then sitting back for a while to take it all in. My perfect meal is harvesting some salad greens & herbs, picking a couple of ripe tomatoes, buttering a slice of homemade bread and chowing down on something meaty hot off the grill. Absolute bliss.

              5 Replies
              1. re: toastnjam

                Would you mind posting some links to the "gardenhound" sites? I'm interested in checking them out?

                  1. re: DMW

                    Lots of boards available to browse and post, the plantfiles are great for looking up plants, an annual subscription of $20 will open up many, many more boards.

                    You probably know about Gardenweb, but I'll put it here anyway.

                    One day I hope to visit River Cottage and take part in their charcuturie course.

                    Great gardening blog.

                  2. I have a small apartment with a small garden to match. Before I came, it was a patch of litter and weeds. I loved raking and cleaning and weeding and building my garden. I get up early and inspect every square inch (there aren't too many) for weeds (of which there are many). I love gardening even when I want to pull my hair out in frustration. That said, I also love taking a break to sit on the patio with a cold drink and knowing I've earned it.

                    1. I garden only for the bounty. I've got lawn guys to take care of the other parts of the yard. I do like planning gardens -- flowering and vegetables -- but I don't like the bugs (they love me), the sun (I have quick-fry skin), the crap on my shoes, the too-damn-early Saturday morning runs to Home Depot for 37 bags of whatever, then load them then unload them then spread them wherever, etc.

                      If it didn't net me tomatoes and okra, I wouldn't do it at all.

                      1. Both, really. My front yard is all flowers, the side is the vegetable/herb garden. I'm on computers and telephones all day during the work week, and I find it really helps me stay sane to get my fingers in the dirt and help mother nature to grow things. I get great satisfaction watching each new sprout emerge and develop. Plus I love to cook with the results.

                        1. I garden strictly for the fresh produce. I hate gardening. I was -so- happy when I did my first container garden last year. It was part of an afternoon's work, and we put up 10 pints of salsa from our own onions, peppers, and tomatoes. :)

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Morganna

                            I volunteer for a nursery I love it so much, flowers, planting, I would rather mow and for those who live in FL, 3x a week in summer is normal. I do love the produce and enjoy my rewards, but I do it cuz I like it. It is relaxing. I hate air conditioning. I finally put it on the other day just for 1 hr, I had cooked a pork roast so it was hot in the house. Heat doesn't bother me ... cold does.

                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              I hate air conditioning, too. :) We don't have it at all. :)

                              1. re: Morganna

                                87 today been in the 80's the last 2 months, I still use fans. I put on the air the first time this past weekend, just to dry out the house. I love fresh air. But come June, we have to down here or we start melting :) Pretty much through late September into October, but I don't mind.

                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  Oh yeah, I can well imagine. :) Up here in Vermont, even the hottest days in the summer get broken up more than the stuff I'm sure you get. :)

                                  One thing I was wondering was if it'd be possible for me to grow plants in a container inside, given that I keep my house around 65 degrees in the winter. Maybe if I had some sun lamps for them? Maybe I should start a thread :)

                                  1. re: Morganna

                                    I tried in MI, didn't work but advances is varieties and mini greenhouses have come along way.

                                    I have a small green house even down here I use. They do make container tomatoes and container herbs and have had some luck but not with veggies, but in my small green house I did. But vermont is much different that even MI or here. Your local extension office can help alot with that. Up north we had a great side lanai porch with full sun but still under heat. I had my small greenhouse out there which worked well, but still lots of work watering, misting, etc. Not really easy, but as I said, things have changed alot of many improvements since I did that. My house never gets below 80 even with air so, growing things is a bit easy.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      Hrm probably have to go for a greenhouse thing. I think that's more than I'm willing to put into it. :)

                          2. I'm having my first garden on my own this year. I'm doing heirloom tomatoes, fennel, rainbow chard, assorted chilis, and honey and butter corn. I'm so excited!! I can't wait to tend my garden and watch my little seeds grow and then.... reap the bounty!!

                            1. Love it. I love the gardening itself ALMOST as much as I like the food. Together, food, it's growing, cooking, and eating, pretty much absorbs all of my non-work hours (and even some of those, sometimes).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: happybellynh

                                As long as it's not too hot, I love to be outside puttering. In 2007 we moved to a place with lots of sun so this year will be only my second time growing a lot of vegetables after about a 20 year gap. I love the excitement of trying new varieties, turning over some dirt to find some wiggly worms, and thinking about the future. I love mixing dirt. I don't mind weeding early in the season. My husband helps with the heavy stuff. I like to put some extras in the garden whether it's pots of scented geraniums or a little statue. One cannot have too many varieties of basils. Last year for the first time we had some heirloom peppers which were fantastic. I take a lot of pleasure thinking about how good their were last year, prepping the soil for this year and looking forward to setting in the new plants in a couple of weeks. I don't think I would make a good full-time gardener however because I do too much daydreaming.

                              2. I love gardening. Being outside, watching my plants grow, bloom and produce is a true pleasure. The odd thing for me is that the biggest pain in my gardening life, other than some uninvited creature eating my plants, is harvest. Somehow, at payoff time, my enthusiasm for gardening wanes and, since things like beans quit producing if they are not harvested in timely fashion, my lackadaisical attitude toward it hurts me.

                                1. I've found that the dream is much different from the reality. I've also discovered that I appreciate my food bearing plants more than my flowers (what have YOU done for me lately?!)
                                  My struggle has really been with re-learning how to garden - what I did in Iowa growing up is very different than what I have to do in the Northwest. Tomatoes are much harder to grow than I expected and I certainly don't have the issue we had when I was growing up of trying to find even more willing neighbors willing to accept our over-abundance.

                                  And as much as I love my raspberry plants, volunteers that can grow a foot in a week are frustrating!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: sebetti

                                    I grew up in MI, very different than gardening in FL, Other than bugs and just dealing with raised beds so no water setting in the beds was the biggest problem. Not a big deal. I have had wonderful success with very little work and great results. I just always gardened so maybe I garden by common sense but I haven't used many books or guides but have talked to local resources regarding local bugs and problems. Pretty simple solutions and have had great success for many years.

                                  2. Ultimately for me..it is all about the crop..However you get caught up in what I often think of as the love affair..with all the planning...thinking about the different varieties...perhaps I'll move things around...try something new. Everything seems so full of promise....The faithful nurturing (Watering)...collecting and using only the rainwater . The middle phase of weeding/pruning and weeding again can produce a "Loss of interest phase"...but then as the fruits of your labor begins to yield...you are in love all over again! The cycle continues with the end of the season.....covering for frost..... and removal of the last yield and the"happy everything is out of the garden phase" Only to start again next spring with the sweet anticipation of what's ahead...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: easily amused

                                      very well said easily amused, that is exactly how I feel. especially the 'loss of interest phase'.

                                      1. re: easily amused

                                        I have a "loss of interest" phase come late summer when weeding is necessary -- I never seem to get around to buying straw for mulch! -- and it's hot and I'd rather be swimming!

                                        However, I generally end up with a nice harvest, and there are few pleasures as great as picking and eating that first tomato still warm from the sun!

                                        I especially love the planning -- I've gotten away from boring rows (except for vegetable seeds since I need to know where they are to keep moist until germination. I envision the plants of different sizes and shapes as I seed; I laid down string in different shapes to seed an area of flowers. I like tucking in leeks among the tomatoes; a row behind of various sunflowers. It's a great creative outlet, and it feels wonderful that it's my own creation.

                                        One year I went overboard and had a HUGE garden -- 50x30 feet. Rows and rows of corn even. It was Too Much Work. I couldn't harvest it all. I learned my lesson, and now I have a small garden to supplement my CSA with heirloom tomatoes, hot peppers, chard (so I always have greens) and plenty of herbs. Small is more manageable and therefore more pleasant.

                                      2. I'll admit I love my garden, but I also sometimes loath gardening! Until we bought our house a year and a half ago, I had flower gardened when I could at the rental house's we lived in for 17 1/2 yrs., but never had enough space to have a veggie garden.

                                        Last year I got my dream veggie garden space and was very excited when it was planted in the spring. However, I shortly started working full-time and we picked up our rescued year old American Eskimo dog on Memorial Day. The rest of the summer consisted of me having to take my 1/2 hr. lunch to come home, let the dog out, hand water the sizable garden, run back to work and eat my lunch while working. I was too tired in the evening to enjoy the garden.

                                        Our meals really took a hit too, I was too wiped out to cook normally. No leftovers meant wayyy to much Subway and Arby's for quick lunch eats (all that is available by work). All too many veggies got wasted because I was too tired to go out and harvest, except mostly on weekends or to nab a veg or herb needed if I was cooking..

                                        Blessedly, although a double edged sword, it looks like I won't have any work this summer. So no income, but I will be able to revel in my garden and enjoy putzing, weeding, watching everything come to fruition and have the benefit of a successful harvest of the spoils. Also a plus is that I now have a drip system set up and our furry baby is older, wellbehaved and able to hold it much longer if I do have to go back to work and can't make it home for lunch. ;)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Alicat24

                                          Greetings fellow garden grubbers! I have loved to garden since I was 12, I'm addicted to dirt! This is my third year gardening in Tennessee, I dulled my first hoe in Louisiana, and there is a bit of difference between the Sand hills of home in North La. and the Clay Hills of W. Tn.
                                          Fortunately the area I live in allows me to grow a massive variety of vegetables, so I am able to supply the vast majority of non meat foods we eat during the year. I am growing Kentucky Blue Pole beans, Asparagus beans, Jet Star tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, Black Beauty eggplant, Many varieties of summer and winter squash, pumpkins, canteloupes, Canary melons, Watermelons, including Moon and Stars and Sugarbaby. Also carrots, beets, brocolli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts -- all them cruciferous veggies! Shoe peg corn ( the smallest recorded cornfield in Lauderdale County!) I'll have to tell that interesting tale some time. I have Italian garlic, Jumbo garlic, Yellow onions, Multiplying onions, lettuce and spinach in my home garden, and with a farming fiend, er, friend, we have two truck patches with sweet corn, Hicory King corn, Roma beans, Cranberry beans, more squash, onions, Okra, tomatoes , pepper plants of several varieties, herbs are basil, dill, sage, and cilantro. Future gardening plans include a 20x4 raised bed cold frame, a 3 tier herb garden, and expanding a mini hot house. I think it may keep me busy....... yeah, pretty sure it will!
                                          I lucked out having a horse farm? Ranch? next door, My neighbor is always willing to give me sh.................. fertilzer for my garden! He's a great guy, really he is! You should all be so lucky!
                                          Alicat, I have a furbaby too, a cockerpoo that follows me up and down each and every row I hoe, till or weed! Poor baby almost wore her legs off today!

                                        2. You're right T' Cajun, they are great company while you are out there working! Dog's don't seem to have a self "pause" button, they'll just stay with you whether they're exhausted or not.

                                          It cracked me up yesterday. My Eskie is pure white and was running and playing to his hearts content while I mowed half the lawn (big yard, have to split it into a couple of days). I didn't notice until we'd been inside for an hour, but his four paws looked like the color of a McD's Shamrock shake from running through the fresh cut grass!!

                                          On topic, I am stunned by the sheer amount of veggies you're able to grow! What is the size of the land you are gardening on? My Grandpa and Great Aunt grew up in
                                          Chattanooga but they moved as teens to Kentucky with their parent's and then in adulthood here to Michigan. I admit a bit of envy at your clay soil, here in W. MI we are living atop ancient sand dunes!! Of course, they both pose their amendment problems ;)

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: Alicat24

                                            Where is W MI Alicat, I grew up in Dearborn/Detroit, but second summer home was Bear Lake 45 min south of Traverscity of 30 north of Manistee. 5 miles inland. We were lucky with the inland lake, lots of sand lakefront, but we had a huge lot behind us the garage and, boat storage and then the garden. It had pretty good dirt. Much different that the dirt or semi dirt around the house. More sand than anything. I miss the large garden, watermelons, corn, rhubard, peas, carrots, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, you name it. FL, is year round veggies, but much harder to grow some of the veggies unless you really give it tender loving care. With all the rain we get at times and the heat it can be more challenging at times. But we don't have to contend with some of the cold nights and frost either.

                                            I remember using lots and lots of bags of soil when trying to plant our flowers. It was like planting flowers in a sand box, lol

                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                              Kc, I grew up in Dearborn/Detroit as well and the Burbs in my teen years. I am in Muskegon now, on a lake about 4 miles as the crow flies inland. I hear ya on the "semi dirt"! All the lawns here exist on the 10" of soil that's hiding the sand (j/k). They came down our street this week to replace all of our telephone poles and around the base of each is a huge mound of sand. It's one of the reasons I decided to square foot garden because I figured raised beds was the best way to have good soil. We had to truck in yards and yards to fill them, thankfully NOT bags, LOL!

                                              I'd never thought of the challenges in FL, I bet it can be tough to deal with the extremes of rain/heat. Never thought I'd be grateful for our short but moderate growing season ;) I've only been to FL twice (visiting at The Villages) and loved it but I'll always be a Michigan gal.

                                              1. re: Alicat24

                                                Small world. Yep sand sand and sand. We have sand on the beach but pretty much inland it heavy dirt, but we get a lot of shell in our dirt so equally as bad.

                                                Where did you visit here, I love the heat but MI summers could be very fun and pretty but hated the dreary times.

                                                Good luck with the square foot, should work great. I do miss the corn and rhubard right off the plant. Mom used to yell at me because I would eat half of what I picked before I brought her the basket.

                                                And I remember the strawberry field we went to and picked quarts and quarts and then had to either make pies, jams, frozen this or that. Hours and Hours and making strawberry everything. Also the apples in the fall. You didn't just pick 1 bushel but several. I never knew there were so many recipes for apples, lol.

                                                Well good luck and keep us posted. I just picked up a few more plants to plant this weekend.

                                            2. re: Alicat24

                                              Ali, yes, dogs have an innate ability to run totally past exhaustion! They are so much fun to have around, excellent conversationalists ( I pity anyone who has not had an intense one on one with their canine companion). I have 1 home garden, 25' x 75' with a side patch 30x 25, so it's kind of shaped like my home state, Louisiana! Reminds me of home. My neighbor, John and I 'sharecrop' two truck patches one is150' wide and 350 foot long, the other is 250' long and 140' wide. So, Yeah, we have a fair amount of land under cultivation. Here in TN, this year we have had an extended spring, very cool and WET for our area. Some crops which normally do quite well here such as potatoes, have drowned, as have my eggplants. I'll have to purchase some eggplants to replace them, my poor hand nurtured seedlings................ It's still way too cool wet to attempt okra yet, and my sweet potatoes?? who knows, maybe I'll get enough slips to transplant next month, but if we keep getting this monsoon............. hmm, sweet potatoes and aquaculture?? I dunno about that!

                                                1. re: alwayscooking

                                                  ROFL! :) You'd have to see the zoo! We have a dog, 4 guinea pigs, *had* a cat, til the poor thing found out why NOT to cross the road (now ensconced at the east corner of the garden, permanently). Yeah, I suppose it might be a veggie farm, but we have fun anyway!
                                                  OK I got a question, any body else growing cranberry beans besides me? They are in my opinion, the finest dry bean that can be grown. We had a 'mess' of them last week, served with smoked sausage, Cornbread, 1015 sweet onions, jalapeno peppers, garnished with sour cream, chives and jalapenos, washed down by vast quantities of minted tea....... OY it was good!
                                                  What's your favorite home grown bean? How do you fix it?

                                                  1. re: TransplantedCajun

                                                    Never grown cranberry beans but love to get them at the local farmers market in season.

                                                    Question: is "1015 sweet onion" a type of onion? If not that sounds like an awful lot of onions for one dish!

                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                      1015 is a type of onion, a "Texas Sweetie" type, very crisp, sweet, mild, mellow flavor with just a mere suggestion of citrusy taste, "Mahvelous" dosen't overpower any food it accompanies

                                                2. re: TransplantedCajun

                                                  I agree, that does sound like a farm! Sounds great in theory but I'm too lazy to even want that much land and work (well, maybe the land!) What do you do with all the bounty? Farmer's market, roadside stand, co-op? Or just put up for your family?

                                                  And I have never heard of or tried cranberry beans but I sure would've tried 'em with that meal! My favorite to grow and eat are pedestrian wax beans.

                                                  1. re: Alicat24

                                                    Well, it is a lot of land if you were toitally doing it all by hand, BUT this winter and spring, my gardening buddy and I overhauled a 2 row seeder, and a 2 row cultivator, and invested in a 6' tiller. That takes a lot of the pain out of soil prep and planting, then we use a rototiller to keep the middles free of grass, so it is much less time intensive.

                                                    We both feed ourselves, his two son's families, and give a large amount of produce to our church members (many of whom are elderly and cannot farm).

                                                    We do plan on a roadside stand to see if we can recoup some of the financial burden of seeds, fertilizer and maintenaince. Last year we gave quite a bit of produce away, and it has returned to us in the form of fish, venison, odd lots of lumber, Gin trash from a cottonseed mill and quite a few buckets of strawberries, blueberries, dewberries, peaches, pears, apples and pecans. Not a bad deal overall!

                                                    1. re: TransplantedCajun

                                                      that's such a heartwarming story that your produce returned as fish and berries, etc!

                                              1. I definitely garden for the results, i.e., for the produce and the beautiful plants. The actual act of gardening? Eh, not so much. It's just the end to the results. I don't get all googoo about dirt under my hands, the smell of soil, etc.

                                                But then I get cranky in the summer when I'm getting too much produce. There's no pleasing me, I tell you.

                                                Cranky gardener

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                  Love it! Am a Master Gardener so it's in my blood. I have lovely 24" raised beds with seating all the way around. Grow 20+ varieties of herbs as I teach culinary classes but also use all my produce and herbs on a daily basis.

                                                  We had such a dreadfully growing season in northern Canada but love having our own produce for as long as we can, then preserve the rest for our long winters. We also grow honeyberries and apples and chokecherries.

                                                  There is nothing like watching how much little plants can grow in a single day! Very gratifying to witness the little miraculous changes!

                                                  1. re: chefathome

                                                    Would you believe, I'm a Master Gardener too? I teach classes in sustainable vegetable gardening, I conduct research trials, I raise hundreds of seedlings for sales, I am fascinated by soil biology, I adore comparing varieties of vegetables, etc.

                                                    And yet, if I never dug another hole again with my very own hands, if I had a phalanx of gardeners at my beck & call a la Gertrude Jekyll or Vita Sackville-West, I think I could be perfectly happy.

                                                    Or so I dream....

                                                    1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                      Wonderful! Research would be right up my alley - I am a science and soil biology nut, too. I usually grow 3-4 varities of each veg for comparison purposes (not to mention eating, too!). I hybridize lilies - one thing that does grow wonderfully in my Zone 1a garden.

                                                      My passion is cooking with produce and herbs. Food, gardening and travel all seem to go together hand in hand - my favourite things to do!

                                                      If only I could grow even lavender or rosemary or oak, not to mention uncommon things. Sigh...

                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                          They are such large trees that provide glorious shade. And the fact that we can't grow any types here just makes me want to all the more!! Whenever my husband and I travel we marvel at the trees and vegetation. Here the only sort of large trees that grow are spruce. Other than that nearly all our trees are more like tall and spindly shrubs.

                                                        2. re: chefathome

                                                          Oh my, zone 1a! I used to live in Minnesota, zone 3/4, so I have a glimmer, but only a glimmer. Do you have super-long summer days for some compensation?

                                                          Have you tried lavender or rosemary in containers? I was never successful keeping them over the winter in Minnesota, but I now understand from living here that they're sensitive to overwatering. My outdoor plants get rain in the winter but no summer water at all. I used to blame my container failures on the dry indoor air, but I now suspect root rot was really the problem.

                                                          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                            We do tend to push the zone envelope here - we just use it as a guideline. Most of my roses are Zone 4 but of course we get reliable snow cover and my husband mulches my roses at least one full foot with shredded bark then wraps them all. We do have very long summer days - I can type on my laptop without lights on at 11 p.m. in summer!

                                                            Yes - I've tried rosemary and lavender in containers and they do ok for the first few months but our winters are so very long that after six months they are pretty poor. The odd time I am able to keep them until Spring but we only have about 85 frost-free days on average so now I just grow them as annuals.

                                                            Our summers are short but lovely!

                                                      1. re: chefathome

                                                        I too was a Master Gardener. I lived in fear that my fellow MG's would come over and see my garden in August -- needing not weeding, but frankly . . . mowing! -- and would yank my badge.
                                                        My panzanella recipe was selected for the Smith & Hawken Gardener's Community Cookbook several years ago, and they asked if I would help w/ publicity by sending in a photo of my garden. That was in August. My husband just laughed. They sent me a copy of the published book.

                                                        I love a lot about gardening -- seeding, having them sprout, particularly after days of rain when I didn't have to do anything. I suppose I would call myself a Lazy Gardener. That's why I like seeds so much -- they're too easy. I planted a patch of mignonette -- described as a non-descript flower with a wonderful raspberry scent. I love scented plants. But I don't like to work hard; in the heat of the summer, I prefer swimming!
                                                        My matra is: gardening should not be a source of stress, but a source of pleasure. If you're working too hard, STOP. I could also sing you the "home grown tomato" song, but that's way off on a tangent.
                                                        "Only two things that money can't buy
                                                        That's true love & homegrown tomatoes"


                                                        1. re: NYchowcook

                                                          That's funny! Sounds like me, too, a few years ago. As I was the only MG in our town I kept getting asked to show our garden on the annual garden tour. Little did they know I took better care of OTHER gardens than my own!! I had some lovely plants but the veg garden and strawberry patch were very untidy. So, when we moved a year ago I managed to get out of having my yard on the tour!! ;-)

                                                          This garden is smaller, easier to manage and is far tidier. It sure does help to have scrupulously tidy raised beds - my husband did a superb job on them. So easy to maintain.

                                                          I, too, don't like working in the heat of the day. Heat and I really clash. My preferred temperatures are about 10-15 degrees Celsius - cool for most but that is when I function best. Having been to Scotland six times I have discovered I would do very, very well living there...

                                                    2. As I said in another post, for 7 -9 years, I've "planted" an annual tomato plant more as a joke than anything else - that because I NEVER got anything more than flowers from any of them. Initially, I did bed prep, burying the plant at various depths, etc, but that failing, I just began to dig a whole in various spots around the yard (not in the actual lawn portion) and stick the plant in the ground. "The annual tomato plant" became one topic of summer BBQ's on the back patio.

                                                      Now this year, I planted 2 plants in the same no-prep fashion and as documented here on the "general tomato" post, I've worried over, pampered, sprayed with non-chemical sprays, mis-identified diseases and have acquired other neuroses over those little plants and FINALLY... Yesterday, I picked my first ever tomato from one of two plants. Even though it's not quite ripe, I beat the mean old blue jay to it and have experienced a bit of tomato growing SUCCESS!!!

                                                      I believe I'm hooked! But do I like it? I haven't figured that one out yet.

                                                      1. I run hot and cold. Sometimes (like this year) I had a bug to plant right when a giant wind was blowing thru my garden. Now I have brussell sprouts and greens growing in strange places. That annoys me. I am very anti weeding these days. Last year I told myself it was therapeutic, now I get pissed when I have to do it. Maybe because I am busy. I also did an experimental organic seed bed and really, it is disappointing. I want to just rip it out. I think that may be effecting my zeal. I did plant 2 new figs this year and am toying with a little meyer lemon as a patio tree. That is bringing me lots of joy. I got 3 new ducks just this week. Maybe I am just too preoccupied with the animals running around over the vegetable. Plus my bok choy got completely munched on by flea beatles. I watered in the morning, did some yard work and came back to squirt the beans later in the day and the boks were pelted with pits. Growl. I may have screamed out in anger and frustration.

                                                        1. I like the idea of loving gardening, but when it comes down to the actual nitty-gritty of all the particulars I don't love it. Though I love the fresh produce and flowers. I mean really, is there anything that satisfies more than a tomato you grew yourself? And I love having this feeling of connection to my mother, father, aunt and grandfather. My grandfather has been dead for 10 years now and people still stop my aunt and mother and tell them how much they miss his garden. And how his garden was the most beautiful garden in my home town. But I know how much work it was, and he did everything old school. He was raised gardening and farming for a large family during the depression and really knew what he was doing.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: KristieB

                                                            So nice when it's a family connector. Your tomatoes truly are heirloom!
                                                            Sweet story, Kristie.

                                                            1. re: fern

                                                              I agree! I grew up HATING tomatoes because my father grew so many. It was only recently that I realized that I was doing the same thing. I have also learned that he and his family grew up grafting trees in Alabama.

                                                          2. Unlike a lot of the responders, I have a lot of pent-up anger and frustration. The past year for me has been absolutely craptastic. I had a falling out with most of the my social circle, had another friend make a series of epic-ly bad life choices, we're having some financial issues, and it's basically been all around Suckfest 2009-2010 in these parts.

                                                            Honestly? The only thing that is keeping me mildly sane right now is my itty bitty (mainly) herb garden. Boyfriend's driving me nuts? I start Googling new gardening tips. Someone on Facebook posted an infuriating commentary? I go out to my balcony and water my plants. I ran through my apartment like an idiot the other day because my planter full of wildflowers just started to poke through the dirt. I couldn't contain myself when my boyfriend got home and kind of bleated "FLOWERS. SPROUT. DIRT. YAY! NOW!" at him. lol. Lugging the soil up from my garage, crunching up egg shells and coffee grounds, and even just fantasizing about the day I'll once again be a homeowner with a large yard I can play in all do amazing things to keep my sanity in check.

                                                            When I lived with an ex, one of the greatest joys I had was going out into the front yard and ripping up dead shrubbery, and digging up the ground to prep for flower beds. Manual labor has really gotten rid of so much of my stress and aggravation. It's hard for me to stay frustrated or annoyed after having a gardening epiphany or remembering "HEY WAIT, THAT'S WHERE I CAN PUT MY STRAWBERRIES!"

                                                            Taking regular photos of my herb garden have also really helped. It's easy for me to get discouraged if I don't see an immediate difference in plant size, health, etc., but having photos to compare to have really helped. I just uploaded about 30 to Facebook. The last one was of one planter from yesterday; the first in the set was that same planter at the beginning of the month. Just being able to compare the progress side-by-side has done wonders for my mental health. :)

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: drunkenatheist

                                                              Good for you! When you get a yard, be sure to try a "circlehoe".

                                                              1. re: drunkenatheist

                                                                I think I have gotten through a lot of difficult years by days spent weeding and cleaning out overgrown areas. Yes, I like harvesting, selecting beautiful and interesting plants and finding homes for them, looking at a well tended planting area, etc. but the most psychically satisfying part has to be from putting a garden to rights and yanking weeds. Its physical I am outdoors and my mind os free to wander (during many years of community gardening I was always conflicted as to whether I liked gardening/talking with people or by myself since the therapeutic benefits were different. Nothing like coming home or in after a day of hard outdoor work!

                                                                1. re: jen kalb

                                                                  Jen, you can come over to my house any time if you need more weeding therapy. Ick, this time of year I wonder if I'm nuts. The indoor seedlings look too delicate to do anything. The outdoor vegetable beds have been invaded by creeping jenny. I only had time to get one and a half beds weeded this weekend and that was two loaded cartfuls. This is all that creeped in from the edges. I didn't have time to think about anything else just telling myself, ok, finish this side and you'll be done. I am trying to keep my garden projects reasonable because I just slid past age 60. I hate exercise class but I go because I know I need the strength and flexiblity for gardening. Home grown tomatoes seem a long ways off. It's only April. But, maybe a crop of sugar snap peas will help me keep the faith that it's all worth it. Here in NH we've also benefited from spring parsnips. But I had to dig up a lot of strawberry plants that had been engulfed by the evil weed.
                                                                  Does anyone have some edging tips? My beds are raised but aren't contained by boards. I've edged the flower beds at an angle leaving a small trench. I'm going to do the same with the veggie beds but I'm also going to try a layer of newspapers topped with grass cuttings. DH can continue to mow the walkways but since the grass contains the evil weed, maybe we should switch to layered paper and wood chips. I'm also going to try seeding the tomato and squash beds with buckwheat and just leave a circle of bare grown for the plants.

                                                                  1. re: dfrostnh

                                                                    "I just slid past age 60. I hate exercise class but I go because I know I need the strength and flexiblity for gardening"

                                                                    Nice! ..

                                                              2. I'm one of those gardenhounds you mention: I damned near LIVE for the growing season (and spend a lot of time during Iowa's long winters, sighing and pacing in front of the windows, waiting for spring to finally, finally come. I love the smell of the dirt, I love the planning and anticipation of the planting season, I love greeting my perennial plants like dear old friends, as they wake up and return (or, horrors, DON'T come back) after the long winter slumber....in the spring, I'm outside on decent days from dawn till dusk, digging, planting, weeding (I even like weeding, except in August), planning, fertilizing, mulching, working on my compost, and harvesting.

                                                                One thing I've learned over the years: if you don't love the PROCESS of gardening, you shouldn't feel guilty (like my sisters both do) and beat yourself up. Either it's joy, or it's work. And if it's "work" to you, then it's understandable that you don't necessarily want to spend your life in thrall to the task. That's okay! Scale back your plans and your "work" to the point where you're getting a decent return (produce!) for your investment, and don't compare yourself to those of us who live to garden.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                  Me too! I majored in Ag....and I don't mind dirt under my fingernails! We grow for fresh produce as well as putting up....canning, freezing dehydrating.

                                                                  The biggest reason new gardeners do not enjoy the process is they plant too big of a garden and it gets to be a chore. Start small.

                                                                  We have a huge garden, but my container garden has some "fun" items we use just for fresh salads and grilling. I get just a big a kick out of little black cherry tomatoes, fish peppers, and swiss chard as I do from my major crops of tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, melons, cukes, and okra.

                                                                  Grow what makes you happy!