My husband wants to start a vegetable garden

Esther Montgomery13 comments1124 views
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Always looking for answers …

So? That’s what many of you reading this will be thinking, as well as “why not?” and “everybody should have a vegetable garden!” And “why is this a big deal?” And, maybe, “what’s wrong with her?”

But you don’t understand. This is very much like—no, it’s worse than—when your 7-year-old comes home with the cute little kitten or puppy. “Oh, c’mon, can I keep it! I’ll take care of it!” It’s worse than that because no such promises are being made, just a lot of statements and questions that indicate less than no knowledge of any kind of gardening, much less edible gardening.

I believe the idea is to do something productive in these uncertain times. So if we both lose our jobs, we’ll still have our vegetables. Or something. Maybe it’s some vague notion that we can eke out edible rewards from the small urban property into which we have poured 10 years worth of resources. (More than thousands of bushels of tomatoes and beans could equal.)

Here are the questions I have faced so far: 

Why won’t vegetables come back every year? What did the Native Americans do? Weren’t the Three Sisters already growing all the time? I don’t want to replant everything every year.

How can I plant them so I don’t have to bend down at all?

Which ones will start producing right away? I don’t want to wait until August.

Which ones are easiest to plant and care for? Which will produce the most harvest for the longest?

Which are the most versatile for meals?

Do I really have to water every day?

Color is important—I want lots of different colors. Which vegetables are most like flowers?

These are the questions—most not unreasonable—of someone who thinks you plant a vegetable garden and get lots of vegetables. I have planted and failed many times with various edibles, but it’s fine for me because I expect failure. I realize that gardening is mainly about failure. I accept it. Indeed, I embrace it.  But I can’t say that.

So there will be a vegetable garden. It will be squeezed into a thin sunny patch on the side of the garage. I will do my best to offer guidance and help choose the plants most liable to succeed. I will troubleshoot. But I don’t want this to be my puppy.

I’m sort of dreading the spring. Maybe—an adventure?

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on November 23, 2010 at 5:00 am, in the category Bloom Day, Eat This.


  1. Get him a copy of Rosalind Creasy’s new book, Edible Landscaping. It’s full of ideas and has good info on actually growing and using the vegetables. She also advices drip irrigation on a timer, which might work well in your garden for watering. Or just get it for yourself because you know this will be your puppy, too. You won’t be able to resist it.

  2. Your husband is a college professor or something like that yes? Give the man either Ros or Susan’s book or both from this very blog page to read this winter. He reads without help I bet.

  3. Oh I so enjoyed reading this. I find similarities to this and my sons recent romance with chickens. Let him put in his garden, he will either catch the bug or you will only have lost one spring.

  4. Bless his heart, the poor ignorant dear. Gotta love our husbands and children. I remember when my son at 14 decided he was going to start mowing lawns. He was going to post flyers around. I asked how he was going to get to people’s properties? Had he asked his dad about using the lawnmower etc etc. My son did not go into the lawnmowing business. Probably a mistake on my part. I have a friend who empowered her son’s fledging lawn business and before he was out of high school he owned a truck, a trailer, mowers and had 2 employess.

  5. Fortunately, you are dealing with a male. This lust for veggies will pass, and he will be on to something else — motorcycles, basketball hoops, croquet. etc. The best response: a maternal, “Yes, dear, I know.”

  6. But isn’t this how all new gardeners start? Some start and lose interest and some get bitten by the gardening bug. Without these “poor dears” we wouldn’t have any gardening enthusiasts later! I would second the espaliered tree, next thing you know he will be transforming “your” gardens and the two of you will be pouring over seed catalogues all winter.

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