Ask the Readers- Do You Garden and Why

I am loving this Ask the Readers feature. We have covered such a wide range of topics.

We have talked about southern cooking, tuna fish sandwiches, preparing for a storm,  the troubles of dishwasher soap, your favorite way to eat eggs, and several other fun topics.

Today I thought we would talk about gardening. It is spring after all and in many parts of the country it is time to start planting gardens.

Here in Oklahoma I have already planted my lettuce and a few other things, but I feel for those of you that live in the northern parts of the US.

I grew up in northwest Oregon where most of our garden did not get planted until the middle or end of May.

So, you northerners hang in there, spring will come soon. And remember that in August and September our gardens will be fried from the 100 plus degree days and your garden will still be coming on strong.

Growing up my parents always had a huge garden and they still do. I am glad that I learned so much from them about gardening. I have had a garden almost every year since I got married and the knowledge I learned growing up has helped me so much.

But here is the thing, I have a love hate relationship with my garden.

I hate to garden. Yes, I just admitted that. I have had a garden for the last seventeen years and I do not enjoy it.

I do not enjoy the digging in the dirt, working in the heat, and the overall struggles that come from gardening, but I do enjoy the products from my garden.

There is nothing like a vine ripe tomato or cucumber. There is something special about enjoying a watermelon or blueberry from your backyard. If I need a bit of basil or parsley for a recipe, I can walk out my door and pick some.

So, although I hate to garden, I love the fruits of my labor from gardening.

What are your thoughts on gardening? Do you have one? Why do you garden?

And do you love it or hate it?

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. Lynette says:

    this is the first actual year we are going to have a garden. We’ve been growing strawberry plants in small area in the backyard of my house and have loved those, but they are pretty self-maintaing (except the watering part – which my kids LOVE to go out and do! Go figure, the kids like to go hang out with their dad and use the hose from the house to stand there and water some green plants! LOL).

    Last fall we rototilled a huge 40×60 foot plot of area in the backyard of my parents house. We’ve divided up the garden into 20 foot long area’s, which gives us 20 foot rows for each vegetable that we want to plant. We planted the cold weather heartier plants at the beginnong of March and are already seeing the success of those labors! Tiny Pea plants are sprouting up and are already several inches above the soil. We can see carrots coming up, Kohlrabi, spinach, lettuce, even the cucumbers that we accidently planted to early have had some tiny plants coming up. The marigolds that the kids and I have planted around the edges of the garden and the rows are coming up too! We are so excited to be venturing into this area. I know we have a LOT to learn about all of this and what grows best with what (plant buddies!) and how much food is produced from these rows so we can adjust accordingly. We have to replant some broccolli that did not survive the transplanting from indoor seedlings to outdoors :(

    I know that I’m going to be super challenged this summer with this very large garden – mostly because I’d like to save the fruits of our labor by canning and freezing, but I know nothing about any of that. I’m gonna have to get some big fat books and some supplies and really read up on this and try to preserve as much as we can! Which also means doing a lot of hard hot work in the kitchen at my Mom’s house while my 4 children run around to try and keep things going! Note to self: Plan for nothing else but working on the preserving of those fruits of labor in august and september! Uh-Oh that’s when we planned some time for vacation! Gonna be a busy month!

  2. Jeanie Rozbora says:

    I love to garden as well. We are military, and because I had to move to a new temporary location, I have opted to container garden this year. I have collected old Kiddie Pools, that families had left out for the trash, to use as my containers! A great way to recycle material and provide a self contained raised garden! I am filling them with compost that I purchased at my local nursery, and have already planted my peas! This should be an adventure in itself but I can’t wait to eat my fresh veggies!!

    I love the creation of a garden, but HATE the maintenance. I assume that most of us feel the same way, but I am not ashamed to admit that I bribe my children to weed the beds for a little extra cash! I will miss my garden from my permanent home, but hope that the people staying there in our absence will take advantage of it and garden themselves.

    Wish me luck on my “pool gardens” three so far, but I am sure I will add more as the season progresses!

    Happy Gardening to all!!!

    • Michelle Edwards says:

      What an AWESOME idea! I am a container gardener, but have not even thought of using kiddie pools. I might consider this for next year!

  3. I started gardening out of panic. My DH had serious heart problems at age 33 and I freaked about all the canned tomato products I used at that point and planted 33 tomato plants. That’s when I fell in love with the taste of garden fresh tomatoes and I garden simply to have tomatoes. Like you, I focus on the end product to get me through the gardening. This year is my first year homeschooling my girls and they are helping plant the garden, and we’re planting more than we have in years past. Hoping it doesn’t overwhelm. I was careful to plant only thing we eat: potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and tomatoes are the plan.

  4. This is the first year in several that we are garden. We love to garden when the military puts us in a area we can. i am so looking forward to fresh veggies this year.
    I am posting your oven omelette recipe on my blog on tuesday. I changed how the recipe is posted and used my own pictures and linked back to you. Please let me know if this is not okay. I have so enjoyed reading your blog recently

  5. Catherine says:

    I have the same feeling…sort of a love-hate thing. I love pulling things out that we’ve grown ourselves, but the actual process of gardening is not my favorite thing at all. Still, today I poured a jar of home-canned spaghetti sauce over meatballs for meatball subs and was grateful that I had it.

  6. We have had a small hobby garden for 13 years. I LOVE to garden, I LOVE to tend to my plants, I LOVE to be outside. While the garden has served as more of a novelty because you just can’t buy a home grown tomato, last summer we nearly tripled it’s size in order to attempt to can or freeze much of what we grow. I harvested 68lbs of produce from our little garden last year and I hope to triple that this year.

  7. I recently moved from a large home to a beachside apartment, and still mourn the loss of my five gardens (a shade garden, a rose garden, a fairy garden, a wildflower garden, and cascading herb and salad gardens). I found gardening simultaneously vexing (all that work and so many backaches and broken fingernails!) and calming (digging in the dirt, planting and weeding, watching life grow). Overall, there’s nothing like eating the food you plant yourself, filling your home with the flowers you grew, and walking through the perfumed air of your own fragrant herbs and flowers. Very healing.

    • @Janice Harper, I am so sorry that you had to give up your gardens. It sounds like you really enjoyed them. I love the beach though, so I guess that is not a bad trade off. The beach can also be very calming and healing.

  8. Dorothy Mullet says:

    I always get excited about starting a garden. I love to look at seed catalogs. I haven’t always started my own plant but I want to do it again this year. Last year it wasn’t convenient and I bought them. That cost me a lot and I decided I could make it work this year. So I have my peppers started and want to start my tomato plants next week. Then later we’ll work at cauliflower, broccilli, cabbage and vine crops too. I’m excited about trying sweet potatoes this year. We are in Northern WI so this could be tricky. I love gardening until the garden starts producing and the weeds get away from me, that is unless my mulching has been a huge success, which hasn’t always been the case. But in the end the rows of fresh canned goods is sooooo rewarding. With the rising food costs and jsut knowing that home canned is so much better I am determined to have a very good garden this year. I have bought fertilizers from Garden’s Alive and a soil testing kit too. Another reason for me to garden is to pass it on to my girls.

  9. It’s refreshing to find someone else that does not like to garden yet has one. I have attempted a garden once before and failed because I do not like dirt. This was many years ago so I have since forgotten how much I disliked dirt. I’ve decided to do a square foot garden because our soil needs a jackhammer to break it up. Being in the north (Wyoming) means I don’t get to plant outide until May but I started my seeds about 3 weeks ago. I look forward to the challenge but not the dirt.

  10. I love to garden, I was raised on a farm and I love digging in the dirt. There is nothing like walking through green plants and smelling the dirt and clean air. It is amazing. Last year we put up our first box garden and it was fantastic. Gardening soothes my soul. And the box garden made it even better because there was no weeds!

  11. I wish I could have a garden. We are in a townhome with only a tiny balcony. A couple years ago, I put a container garden on the balcony, but everything except tomatoes failed pretty badly. :(

  12. I sort of have the love-hate thing going on with gardening. I love having the fresh produce, but I really don’t like to dig in the dirt or maintaining the garden. It’s outweighed by the love of the fresh food, though, so I do it. I have never canned before, so I’d love it if there was a topic on that sometime in the future.

  13. Cynthia says:

    I think to a degree everyone has a love-hate relationship with gardening. In the spring I am so excited to start and by midway through the season my excitement was waned because of the upkeep, wildlife, and uncooperative weather. Last year I started weeding as soon as I got up in the morning while it was still cool and weeded one hour. My husband also bought me a small tiller which helps a lot. Harvest and canning makes it all worth it! Kind of like having a baby – once you start eating out of your garden you forget all the discomfort!

  14. I grew up on a farm so digging in the dirt is in my blood. I find that gardening is a family activity so we all look forward to it. There is nothing like the coolness of early morning to bring a person closer to God while tending to the garden. Yes it can be a pain at times, but the positives far out weigh the negatives with me. We have 3 gardens at the moment. Two veggie and an herb garden. We are in the process of putting up a picket fence around it to “pretty” it up. We also garden out of necessity. With food prices going up everyday this year is very important we really put up a lot for the coming months. I often think of the Proverbs 31 woman….in verse 16, “She considers a field and buys it: From her profits she plants a vineyard.”

  15. I’m very excited about gardening this year. My little seedlings are all doing well. I’m hoping that spring will come and stay soon so that I can get them outside. We are military, so with us normally living on base with a very small yard, I’ve container gardened for the last few years. We are off base now and have a much bigger yard, but I am still planning on doing some container gardening and then several small gardens spread out by the fence line.
    I enjoy gardening which is very strange for me, as I can’t stand to feel dirt or bugs, etc. at all. I am relaxed though when taking care of my plants and so excited to notice the changes each day. It really does give you a wonderful feeling to provide your family with fresh veggies, no matter how little or how much. This year, I hope to try and learn to can!

  16. I have a huge garden every year. I use the square foot garden method and have raised beds. In addition, I have self-watering planters up on my deck with greens for my green smoothies. (Makes it convenient to step out the back door and gather a colander full of greens to use in my breakfast.)

    I have garlic coming up already and I am going to plant potatoes this weekend. If the weather report is correct, the weather should be warming up this week. So hopefully I will get some peas planted sometime this week too.

    I am like you, I don’t really enjoy all the work that comes with gardening (especially organic gardening) but I love when it comes time to harvest. In the dead of winter, nothing quite beats home-grown veggies that you have preserved when everyone else is relying on tasteless store-bought produce. It definitely makes all the work worth it.

  17. We love the taste of home grown tomatoes as opposed to genetically altered store bought, so yes we garden. But, now that we are approaching our 49th year of marriage in September, we have cut way back on how much and what. The old saying, “You’re nearer God’s heart in the garden than anywhere else on earth”, works for us. Heavenly grown home vegetables, Yes!

  18. I have had a garden every year. The first year (10 years ago) I went completely nuts and planted a HUGE garden, it was quickly overtaken by weeds and we got nothing out of it. I’ve finally grown into a garden that’s the perfect size for me. Enough to get plenty of veggies to eat and can, but small enough to take car of and maintain. I LOVE planting the garden. I hate tending the garden in the middle of the summer. That’s why I employ tools, like the ooze tube and gallon jugs that make watering easier.

  19. I have been using the Square Foot Gardening method since 2007, although I gave gardened the conventional way for over 20 years. SFG is easier. Once you set up the beds, you are pretty much set.

    I garden because I get organic produce that is always fresh. I go outside, pick what I need, and cook it. My family always says that my vegetables taste better than any restaurant. I told them it is because the vegetables are fresh-picked.

  20. I have the love/hate thing going too. I love the goodies that come out, and I love the planning stage. I’m a big baby about the weeds and bugs and sweat involved though. This year we are in the middle of a couple of moves, one temporary house while the old one sells, then off to a new permanent house many miles away. Really missing the planning stages now. I am hoping to get settled early enough in the summer to at least get a couple of containers going. Tomatoes, basil, and cilantro are a must!

    I’m so glad you posted this! Its nice to learn I’m not the only one who doesn’t enjoy the whole process.

  21. I do garden, and have had at least tomato plants for the last 10 years. Now I have raised beds (clay soil over rock make this a necessity.) I garden because I love knowing where my food comes from. I love the satisfaction I get from putting a 100 % home grown meal on the table for my family. I like how much cheaper it is, and I love being outside watching things grow. I love gardening with my kids, and hope they will grow up to be home gardeners as well, and will know that good food is worth waiting for.

  22. What could be better than homegrown tomatoes??? We use Earthboxes to plant our tomatoes – right now I have lettuce in a couple, but that won’t last. No weeds, and we don’t need what a huge garden would yield. We’re retired, but still get to share with our neighbors.

  23. We are in the country in TN and moved here after living in big cities like Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta and even Singapore. We started our first garden about 7 years ago with nothing but books from the library and advice from grandparents. Last year I canned over 100 cans of vegetables and froze many, many quarts of fruits and vegetables. This year we are trying the concept of organic gardening by layering compost type materials. Our garden is pretty big (about 50 by 50) but half what it usually is. I’m taking it slow with this new method, but I am so excited to see how it changes our work load and produce. We love to garden. There’s just something about eating things you have grown, not to mention the benefits of our 6 children being raised harvesting and planting with us. Cuts down on grocery bill. Tastes tons better than store bought. Just makes country living more authentic! :)

  24. Michelle Edwards says:

    This is my second year gardening. Last year we had cherry tomatoes, green peppers, strawberries, green onions, and herbs. This year we have added cucumbers, slicing tomatoes, watermelon, pumpkin, and green beans. I rent a townhouse so my garden is a container garden. I have everything in large pots and a few planter boxes my fiance made. I love this type of garden because I do not have to till or mess in dirt. I just had to transplant into larger pots with potting mix. I don’t have to worry about weeds or anything like that. I think I went over board on tomatoes, we only have two people out of five that enjoy tomatoes. I will attempt my dad’s tomato jam recipe and a spaghetti sauce this year to help.

  25. I’m love/hate too. Weeding when it is over 90 degrees is just not fun. However, with the price and quality of produce, its just one of those things that has to be done. This year I am going to try to get the between row spaces mulched to cut down on water needs and a bit of weeding. I plant in bands rather than single rows to use the space as efficiently as possible. I wish we had more space for things like potatoes and corn, but am glad we have room for raspberries, strawberries, currants and rhubarb. Carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, peas, beans and cucumbers are given most of the remaining space, and I squeeze in a few peppers and several sowings of radishes. I try to fit in as much as I can, sometimes overcrowding, which doesn’t work well. Last year we planted a bit of corn with pie pumpkins underneath. Pumpkins were great, corn not-so-much. We had room for two short rows of potatoes, so they were wonderful until about Thanksgiving. Lettuce doesn’t do well here as it gets too hot too quickly so it tends to bolt before it matures. I might try some on the cooler side of the garage this year. I’ve also got a small hazelnut tree that will take a couple more years to produce much of a crop. We don’t end up with a lot for winter use other than the berry crops, but don’t have to buy anything but lettuce for three to four months, and have the last of what we grow by mid winter. My parents have a garden three times the size of ours and the two of them produce enough to last all year.

  26. I do garden. Started with tomatoes when we moved into our first house. Each year I’d experiment with a new item but the tomatoes were our favorite. When we moved to our current home, the garden again started with tomatoes. Each year more experimenting. The past few years my best producers where tomatoes & yellow squash. Last year my tomatoes struggled because of too much early season rain and 100+ temps mid summer. Praying for better weather this year! The weather is the part that gives me the love-hate feelings. I enjoy gardening – I’m down to one more strip of digging up weeds so I can start putting in my new raised bed boxes and get all the soil additions mixed in to plant on or right after April 15th. Come mid-June when the best time to get out is 6am, I begin to get not enjoy the gardening. I like my sleep and I don’t tolerate the heat like I used to, guess I just have to grin & bear it. I really want my garden to do better this year. I agree, enjoying your homegrown food is special, particularly when some can be canned or frozen to enjoy come winter. Happy gardening!

  27. I have a black thumb, whenever I try to grow something it has a tendency to die. :(

    However, last year Hubby built me a square foot garden, because we wanted to give this gardening thing a fair shot. I think I planted everything too late in the year, because I went by what the seed packets said (instead of looking up when I should plant stuff in Florida). The broccoli and cauliflower grew and looked very nice, but they never actually produced anything. The swiss chard produced some, but we discovered we don’t really like swiss chard. The carrots were too short because it wasn’t deep enough (though the ones that were edible were very good). Don’t remember the rest, except that the tomato plants were not apparently heat-tolerant, because they all died in one particularly hot weekend (we think… I’m not great at telling when a plant is dead unless it is very dead).

    That said, we are trying again this year! It is already too late in the year to plant stuff like broccoli (argh, why didn’t I look this up in January?), but we have a bunch of tomato plants already in the garden. We actually got several varieties of tomato plants that are all supposed to hold up well in our area. Also planted a couple of jalapenos, and we are waiting for the nursery to get some strawberries in! Fingers crossed!

    I don’t dislike gardening itself overly much, I just tend to forget about it. Also, our backyard is not very pleasant to be in a lot of the time, because of bad drainage problems making mud+not great smells.

  28. I tried a straw bale garden last year–just four bales arranged in a square. I spent a little more than eighty dollars on the straw, soil to go on top, fertilizer, a soaker hose, and a few plants, and three tomato cages. A friend also gave me some seeds and plants. I thought it was a general failure, but in early August the tomatoes and basil took off. The cherry tomato plant did quite well. In the end, I figured I had a cost-benefit ratio of about a dollar per tomato. However, I have enough fertilizer for years and can reuse the hose and cages. I’m still deciding if I want to try again. The hole in the middle of the square made a good compost pit through the winter.

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