Gardening — Another passage

All my life I’ve enjoyed gardening. There are few things as personally rewarding as harvesting your own fresh vegetables. Even when I worked I always found time for it and didn’t complain. OK, I complained but not a lot. Well, maybe a lot sometimes but mostly I enjoyed it.

In addition to a vegetable garden, I had a two rows of berry bushes and all sorts of fruit trees. The raspberries were wonderful until the deer found them and liked them too. The birds got the blueberries no matter how I covered them and ground hogs can climb trees to eat peaches even if they aren’t ripe yet. The apples were always afflicted with some malady that distorted them and I had no intention of spraying chemicals. Completely frustrated, I ripped all of those out. If I can’t have them, neither can they. (Yes I can be mean!)

Over the years we’ve tried things that worked and things that didn’t. Gardening when you live a quarter mile from preserved land is challenging. We have deer, foxes, raccoons, coyotes and a wide assortment of wildlife. Not only do we have our own crop of wildlife but some folks will trap critters on their own property and drop them off here. After all it’s a wildlife preserve. Isn’t that the appropriate place for them? Doesn’t matter that people live here!

Some critters love vegetables and some don’t. Even the ones that don’t may have a rumble in the cucumber patch and take it off the menu for the summer.

I tried many deterrents but the only one that worked was the 6 foot high chain link fence. The most economical solution was to purchase a dog pen. Economical is an elastic term. This was cheaper than having a company install a fence but it did increase the price of tomatoes to $25 a pound! But they were home grown!

For the story of how that fence came to be click here. Most of my followers were not around when I wrote it so it may be new to you!

It come assembled in panels with a people door. We mounted it on landscaping wood and enjoyed a healthy garden for many years. We still had to share with the chipmunks, birds and squirrels but we got our fair share.

Like many other hobbies that start out fun, it became work along the way. It had to be dug every year, fertilized, watered and weeded. Tomato plants had to be tied up. We grew more produce than we could use so we had to find homes for it. That’s more trouble than you would think. We downsized what we planted but the digging and weeding could not be downsized.

After godawful whining (that would be from me), this year I decided to take the garden out. I can have a tomato plant in a pot and I already moved the parsley and basil to a more convenient spot outside the kitchen door.

It’s time. It’s a passage and I’m not regretting it but I’m still sad. I’m mourning my lack of enthusiasm for it all. Most of all I’m mourning my lack of energy.

Next spring when it’s time to dig gardens, I will not miss it but come July when that first tomato ripens, I may have some pangs of sadness. Hopefully, tomatoes from a roadside stand will not cost $25 a pound!

I also grew zinnias!

68 thoughts on “Gardening — Another passage

  1. Even in retirement at 90 Dad had a massive garden as he liked to grow things – all sorts of things – the weird things in Burpee’s catalogs. But as you say, who wants to watch food rot on the vines. We used to joke he should have a vegetable stand (but he didn’t like to sit still either) Then he found food banks welcomed his produce and that worked for a while. Eventually the big garden ( also called the wild life restaurant as he backed up to a little stream and animal moseying path) became just a few row or two of peas, tomatoes, squash, little potatoes…and weird things of “let’s see if this’ll grow.
    It’s too hot here – I gave up. A couple of big pots with herbs and trips to the pick it yourself farms work well enough…as long as you can get that summer tomato smell.
    The dog enclosed panels are a good idea…passing that on to kid who is getting the gardening infection, I mean genetic hobby HAHA.

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  2. I hear you Kate….my enthusiasm for my garden plot has waned considerably over the past two years. Now it just seems like work. To every thing there is a season….. PS. I love your zinnias. I’ve never had any luck growing them, although my mother easily grew them in her garden on the farm.

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  3. My father used to say his boaat was hole in the water he threw money into. My grandmother, his MIL, replied All hobibies are holes we throw money into. But they are worth the life they provide. Grandma’s expensive hobby was travel. She was on every continent in the world.

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  4. I had to laugh reading your description – the struggle is real! The critters definitely want your produce, and there are so many different ailments that strike plants. Sometimes its a wonder that anything grows ever! I gardened for many year at other houses, and tried hard to make it work here, but it just doesn’t. Maybe one day we will be someplace that it will be an option, but today is not that day.

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  5. I went to the link and remembered reading about it before about halfway thru – we must have discussed home-grown tomatoes and you sent it to me. We always traveled to the country for our homegrown beefsteak tomatoes and since the pop-up farm market is in town every Sunday (except this year due to COVID), it became the answer for new potatoes and big tomatoes. My mom ate them over the sink with a salt shaker in the other hand. She cut down on sodium years before, but sprinkled liberally on her tomatoes. I feel burnt out about gardening in general, but I blame it on losing so many plants during the two Polar Vortex events and then there was/is the rats. Sigh. Since you mention the groundhog snarfing down all the veggies, here is a cute video I saw on Twitter today. I follow a woman who writes a blog about birds and critters. She owns a Wild Birds Unlimited store. She follows my blog and Tweeted today’s post about the fat ground hog along with this video. One minute is enough to get the gist of the video and give you a smile.

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    • This year the groundhogs have been particularly destructive. They have eaten the pond plants I have on the outer ledge and overturned the pots to muddy the water. They have taken down my 5′ canna lilies (along with the squirrels). I had them last year and no one bothered them. They ate the first pot of parsley all the way down and then pulled out the root and ate that. Not sure what’s going on. There is a lot of food available for them this year without my plants.


  6. I never gardened before in my life except the last two years. I never knew how rewarding it could be. My husband grows the veggies, and I planted the flower garden along the side of our house. I can also see how you may have lost the ambition to go through all the work it takes. It is hard work. I told my husband I want him to cut back on the amount of veggies next year. He’s says he’s not ready to cut back yet. They really are so much tastier than store bought.

    In Florida the soil was like sand, and we had a hard time even growing grass without it getting patchy. Here our yard flourishes. I like it so much better (we lived in Florida for 27 of our 35 years together).

    I love having fresh basil, but haven’t grown any other herbs. I use a lot of oregano and was wondering how that grows. Any idea? I haven’t heard of anyone growing it.

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  7. We had a small vegetable garden this year – in addition to our three blueberry bushes – but just tomatoes, zucchini and peppers. Next year, I think I’ll just have tomatoes and zucchini (we just don’t eat that many peppers), unless we can travel again in which case not even that. The blueberries stay as long as they produce as well as they have. The rest of our yard in mostly hardscape and succulents. Easy peasy. We have some issues with critters but it hasn’t been too bad. Like you, I don’t mind sharing but sometimes they take it all.

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    • I used to do peppers and cucumbers. My husband can’t eat peppers and I got too many for myself. The cucumbers were the same way although they climbed the fencing so they didn’t take a lot of room. I eat a lot of tomatoes. I tried zucchini one year. That was before my fence and I had a lot of trouble. “They” (and I’m not sure what animal it was” ate the flowers. No flowers, no zucchini.

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  8. You gotta do what you gotta do. I’m not enlarging, but I’m still resisting the urge to downsize. I do, however, try to make things easier each year although with a drought this year, it has been tough. We are lucky that there are wonderful farmers’ markets so I won’t worry about you getting that fresh tomato next year. 🙂

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  9. I get this. I’ve given up on activities that at one time defined me, but now are memories. It’s sad, but it’s liberating to move on. Plus you’ll find somewhere to buy some fresh tomatoes that’ll come to be your new favorites.

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  10. I hear you about waning enthusiasm as we mature in life. Gardening can be a full time job all year round. Tomatoes are always fun to grow and the rest of herbs in a container. What I don’t like gardening is watering them,

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  11. As I approached the end of the post, with that picture of the garden just popping up, I thought to myself “Those sure looks like a zinnias and not tomatoes!” I was impressed I knew that. 🙂 Think of it this way: you’re always going to be a gardener; only the actual landscape will change. – Marty

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  12. I found your post most encouraging. Making myself weed the flower garden is becoming more difficult. We were given nine tomato plants, and only two produced tomatoes. The other seven died, one by one. Those stats are telling me not to accept free plants next year.

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  13. It’s never competing with nature and her creatures when it comes to a vegetable/fruit garden. Still there is a certain sense of accomplishment stepping outside and pulling a fat juicy tomato from a plant. I went to gardening in the pot a few years ago and have had relatively decent success with herbs, lettuce, carrots, radishes, a tomato and a pepper plant. It’s fun to deny the squirrels while keeping a tasty bit of produce for myself. 😈 And there isn’t as much work as a full size garden plot.

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  14. This really resonates with me…….I did away with my gardening duties several years ago for health reasons and went with “deck gardening”. You can grow so many things in pots – Since then I’ve downsized again – now I just have two large pots that I plant tomatoes in every year. Everything else is Farmer’s Market. I insist on my own tomatoes though – they just TASTE BETTER! It’s kind of tough giving it up – at least at first – but your back will love you (!)

    Hugs, Pam

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    • You are right about having your own tomatoes. What variety do you plant? I want a smallish one like an early girl for 4th of July but I also like cherry tomatoes and those plants get taller than me. Can’t see doing that in a pot.


    • That’s how I am with some stuff. Two zucchini a summer is enough for me! What to do with the other 50 from the one plant! My mother had 18 fruit trees. I remember hours of picking up rotted apricots before mowing. There is nothing as wonderful as a ripe apricot right from the tree but I remember those smushed ones that were full of bees that I had to pick up.


  15. To everything, turn turn turn . . .
    There is a season, turn turn turn . . .

    But STOP turning over that garden . . . you’ll throw out your back! 😛

    Hope you get a bumper crop from your tomato pot next summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi, Kate – We’ve always kept our yard and garden very simple. Even with that, there will be a time (likely soon) that we wish to do even less gardening or none at all. Thank you for the reminder that this is okay — and for everything there is a season.
    BTW – I hope that fresh tomatoes are never $25 per pound.

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  17. The only thing I still grow (but not this year, as my apartment is north-facing) is pole beans. Easy to to grow from a container, and gives me fresh beans (my favourite veggie) for supper from mid-July to first frost. Oh, and some herbs and a potted tomato plant. It’s all the garden I really needed, and I can get the rest of my seasonal fresh produce from farmers’s markets and other gardeners. I’m looking forward to my next place, where hopefully I can resume growing these things.

    It does take a lot of energy to have a full garden, I agree. I’m much happier with my scaled down version.


    Liked by 1 person

    • The sense of relief started when I made the decision earlier in the season. Then as each phase happened — pulled out the tomatoes, found someone who wants the fencing, etc — the weight on my shoulders got lighter. We are two people and done eat much. The beloved husband is not a big fan of veggies either and I refuse to raise cattle! 🙂

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  18. Yes, at some point we all have to decide when the amount of effort outweighs the joy. My husband still seems to enjoy it, even the germinating of seeds in his little greenhouse.

    I’m responsible for the flower beds, and I still like those. (By which I mean I like how they look, not always the hours kneeling and weeding.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoyed it for a long, long time. I even grew potatoes for a few years. I grew my own tomato seeds too and it was so rewarding and I had the exact varieties I wanted. I downsized my flower beds years ago. I now have several pots and the plants around the pond. That gives me enough room to play. If I didn’t have such a critter problem I’d just stick a tomato plant somewhere close to the house.

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