Category Archives: Gardening in general

I Hate My Neighbor Because His Garden is Prettier Than Mine

hate my neighbor because his garden is prettier

We moved into our house almost three months ago. I was a square-foot gardener at my old house. Now I’m an in-the-ground gardener. Making the switch wasn’t easy, people. There are weeds freaking everywhere! The leaves on my tomatoes are curling and I’m guessing I’m missing some nutrient in the soil but I don’t know because I didn’t hand-make the soil like I did with my square foot garden.

When we first moved in, we dug all the grass and weeds up from the area where the former owners had a garden. There were a lot of weeds – a lot of mint and a big, dead blueberry bush. The garden sloped down a small hill. We ended up making steps for each level of the garden. It was kind of like rice fields in China, except small and ugly.

I knew the soil had a lot of clay in it, so I added some compost and garden soil to make it more loamy or whatever. I planted my tomatoes and pepper plants. That night it rained.

Apparently, we had dug trenches instead of steps. The plants were sitting in two inches of water when I went out to check on them. Immediately, I made a way for the water to run off so the plants wouldn’t stay flooded. I learned a lesson: don’t dig trenches in your garden, especially when the soil is like play-doh.

My new neighbor is a first-year square-foot gardener. He has two square foot gardens. The wood is fresh. Everything is verdant. It’s beautiful. It’s perfect.

I hate him.

neighbors garden

I peeked through the bushes when he wasn’t home to take this photo. He even built a bench with the left-over wood. Gah!

His garden is pretty and perfect. I used to have a pretty and perfect garden. I used to be a square-foot gardener. Now I don’t know what in the heck I’m doing. I’m digging trenches, my tomato leaves are curling and the weeds are overwhelming. I could make enough After Eight dinner mints to supply the entire Chicagoland area for the next 20 years with the amount of mint in my garden. No lie, check it out.

my garden full of mint 2I write a gardening blog and I don’t even know how to garden. My blog should be called “I Try to Grow Mint.” I could totally rock that blog.

Part of my mint problem has to do with my laziness, obviously. At my old house, I was in my garden multiple times a day. My bedroom window overlooked my garden. In my new house, I can’t see my garden from inside my house. I’d like to say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but in this case it seems to be more of “out of sight, out of mind.” I’ve been neglectful of my garden and it’s showing.

So my project for the fall will be to dig up all that mint and get rid of it. In the spring I’ll work on making the soil better. And then I’ll kick my neighbor’s square-foot gardening rear end.

P.S. What in the heck do I even do with mint? I don’t have a single mint recipe. Please help! (don’t say tea, I don’t like tea)

Kids in the Garden…More Like Kids Fighting in the Garden

kids fighting in the garden

I was planning to write a post about gardening with kids. Everyone’s writing them. They write about the joys of digging in the dirt with their kids and seeing the smiles on their faces when they bite into that first home-grown vegetable the child raised themselves.

But then I thought about it and realized, I don’t really like gardening with my kids.

You’d think as a homeschooling mom that I’d be overjoyed to incorporate living off the land into our curriculum. And I was. Until we actually tried it.

One early spring day I decided to pull out my seeds and plant a few in peat pots to prepare for the summer. I thought, the kids will love this. I’ll teach them about plant propagation, the importance of watering seedlings, and giving the plants enough light and nutrients. They’ll watch the entire life cycle from seed to our bellies. We’ll make charts and draw pictures and this will be our entire science curriculum for half a year. It’ll be great!

Nope.

This is how it went.

I carefully laid newspaper down on the floor, but kids are kind of messy. Did you know that? Before we even got the seeds out, soil was all over the basement. My kids looked like Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs. It wasn’t fun…for me.

So, when the weather warmed up, I tried again, outside.

I gave my, then four-year-old, daughter a shovel and showed her where to dig in my square foot garden. I came back a few minutes later and all the soil was outside the garden, on the grass!

So then I thought, forget the digging, I’ll just let them plant the seeds. So they picked out sunflower seeds and we planted those in separate pots. The biggest mistake I made was, of course, not labeling the pots. Not with the tag “sunflower,” which I did, but with each of my kids’ names. Because here’s what happens when you forget to label with your kids’ names:

Kid 1: You watered my sunflower! MOM! He watered my sunflower! That’s MY sunflower!
Kid 2: No. This is MY sunflower. See, your pot had a chip in it.
Kid 1: No it didn’t! YOUR pot had a chip! That’s my pot!
Kid 2: No, it’s not.
Me: (squeezes bridge of nose)
Kid 1: YES, IT IS! (kicks watering can over)
Kid 2: (laughs at the drama of the kicked can)
Kid 1: (screams loudly enough for neighbors 60 houses away to hear)

And that’s when I quit and decided I don’t really like gardening with my kids.

I don’t like messes, I don’t like my valuable dirt all over the grass, and I don’t care for fights over stupid pots. I love my kids, but I don’t want to garden with them. It’s one of the few times I allow myself to get away…aside from after bedtime when I binge-watch Lost on Netflix for three hours.

I’ll let my kids play with the worms in my worm farm and I’ve caught my five-year-old digging through the compost bin. I’m cool with all that. But that’s about all I can handle.

My sons aren’t much into it anyway, I asked them what they think of gardening and they said, “boring” and “it’s too much work.” When I was a kid, my dad worked in the yard and he enjoyed it.  At the time my thoughts on all things yard were the same as my kids’ thoughts: BOR-ING. But by the time I hit my thirties and had a yard of my own, I suddenly liked yard work. So maybe my love for it will rub off on my kids. I hope.

My nine-year-old is beginning to appreciate gardening…a little bit. I gave him a pot to grow carrots this year. He’s growing orange, white and purple ones. He hates carrots, but at least he’s growing something. He filled the pot with dirt and planted the seeds. He started out watering them, but after a few weeks he forgot, so I took over. Everyday he asks to pick a carrot even though they’re not ready. He sees stuff happening. I guess it’s kind of fun. As long as he doesn’t touch my garden.

Do you enjoy gardening with kids? Am I the only one that doesn’t really like it?