How Does Your Garden Grow


Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

My grandparents had a large garden, they grew all the basics like tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and spinach, we even grew broccoli. I remember hot summer days spent helping my grandmother drag the hose up the hill to the garden.

Not one to waste the bounty of the garden, Grandma made her own pickles from the cucumbers. Grandma cured the pickles in a giant earthenware crock on the back porch and I remember the smell of vinegar permeating our kitchen.

I couldn’t wait to have my own place so I could have a garden, and make my own pickles…maybe….that seemed like a lot work and that whole hot process canning thing seemed a little scary.

Maybe I would just have flowers, lots and lots of flowers.

Of course, my first place was apartment on the third floor, not conducive to growing vegetables. Still, I spent the winter pouring over seed catalogs and dreaming about the day I had my own house with a big yard where I could put in a garden.

That spring undeterred by my tiny balcony, I decided to fill my balcony with flowers. The minute the garden center opened for the season, I bought two flats of flowers.

I happily hauled enormous bags of dirt across the parking lot and up three flights of stairs and spent a happy afternoon potting up numerous containers with petunias, pansies and marigolds. 033

It looked amazing! Then I realized I had no water source out on the deck. I spent the summer filling an old gallon milk jug with water and carrying it across the apartment and out to the balcony twice a day because the balcony received direct afternoon sun.

When I finally bought my first house I was so excited, I was no longer confined by the container. I could do ANYTHING I wanted with my yard. I could have oodles of perennials, tons of veggies and gardens wherever I wanted.

Now I am a tad impatient, if I have to wait to long at the grocery store I start to tap my foot. If I’m swept away by a story I am reading, I will stay up all hours to finish it. I shouldn’t like gardening because let’s face it the plants arrive when they want to arrive no amount of foot tapping will make them come any quicker, but I do.

Since I garden on a budget, I buy teeny little perennials, imagining the big glorious plants they will be in a year or two. I spend my summer walking around my yard whispering encouraging words to my tiny plants. In spring, as soon as the snow melts I am out there checking on my plants. I don’t think it is possible to be a pessimist and a gardener.

This year an extremely harsh winter caused me to lose a couple of plants. I was momentarily sad, and then got happy again in anticipation of a trip to the garden center to buy replacements.

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11 thoughts on “How Does Your Garden Grow

  1. Delightful post Jennifer. When I was a young mother I canned every summer, for weeks it seemed. I was lucky because I lived next to my mother-in-law who grew a huge garden and had enough for us both. When we moved it was fun to plant our own garden. My favorite will always be flowers, though. Even at our campsite I have beautiful flowers growing and my husband raises potted vegetables all summer. The tomatoes are awesome! Enjoy your garden – it’s so gorgeous out right now with all the green it’s fun to just look outside, isn’t it?


  2. Fun. I love gardens and was raised with tons of tomato plants. Mom canned everything and I canned some things when the kids were younger, now if I can just get home grown tomatoes I’m happy. I love flowers too, especially peonies and roses. But we hire our yard to be mowed and they flowers in the back yard, including the roses get mowed over. Cher’ley


  3. Fun column … especially liked the beginning when you were looking back at the summers spent helping your grandparents in their garden — and your bit about your granny turning cucumbers into pickles. My mom wasn’t much into gardening, but she did grow tomatoes along the back garage wall; they tasted so good on hamburgers grilled on the patio. My dad is 87 and doing well, and while he doesn’t garden he and his friend Robert do some roundabout gardening of sorts, tending to an above-ground pool and its filtering system. It feels like gardening to me as he spends lots of time in the backyard making sure the water is just right for when the grandkids come over and want to jump into the pool. 🙂


  4. I, too, have memories of mother’s garden. Growing up in Iowa, the soil was VERY fertile and she grew a HUGE garden every year! She canned a lot as well. She didn’t have much success after our move to Wyoming, but when she and Dad headed north to Montana, she again found her “green thumb” and has had a wonderful veggie garden every year since. And, her flowers at their little residence now ARE AMAZING! I didn’t inherit her abilities or patience — I can hardly grow dandelions!! Fun blog post, Jennifer — good luck with your plants!


  5. My family aren’t gardeners–at all. So many years ago I approached my first attempt at having a vegetable garden with some trepidation. Decided to plant a long area edging a fence. Got bags of mushroom compost (wish they still sold it), my hubby got a monster rototiller and tilled it in (his first time and a bit of overkill) and I started to plant. Amazingly everything grew–too much. The zucchini and yellow squash turned into baseball bats overnight, I couldn’t keep up with the tomatoes, and the peas and peppers overflowed. My husband still raves about the wonderful spaghetti sauce I made from the tomatoes. In short, a rousing success.

    I’ve done vegetable gardens a few times since, but none were ever as spectacular as the first one. I suspect it had to do with the mushroom compost. Then we moved to rural property where vegies had no chance of surviving the critters. I’m tempted to try container plants again, but haven’t had much luck with them.

    Fun post.


  6. Jennifer,

    I don’t garden, even as a child I pulled the plants and left the weeds. I do however love watching and looking at others work and am a bit envious. I’m still smiling at your words. Thank you. Doris


  7. Jennifer – I have a garden that often grows by itself- ie it thrives by a degree of neglect, but I love it when I plant new summer flowering plants and they bring a lovely band of colour. It’s often theraputic too when doing some maintenance tasks. Enjoy! -even if it’s hard graft at times. Enjoyable post.


  8. Jennifer, what a beautiful post. This year I have fallen in love my rock garden. Usually, my hubby does all the flower gardens, and I happily let him do it. Then, I found a piece of woodland bordering our yard, and I found stones to enclose it and started adding hosta and other plants and this I am in love with my little rock garden. My hubby is so proud that I haven’t killed every plant. 🙂 Thank you Jennifer. nice post.


  9. Lovely post, Jennifer. I grow some flowers–mostly perennials–and herbs. I grew up on a farm with a huge garden, but now I find that the tomatoes and other veggies I can get at the farmers market are much better than any I can grow myself. I love the flowers coming up in spring though. They are late this year. My bleeding heart is finally blooming and the ferns are unfurling. I love it!


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