My husband wants to start a vegetable garden

My husband wants to start a vegetable garden
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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.


    • Carol
    • 7th October 2016

    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.

    • Christopher C NC
    • 1st November 2016

    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.

    • admin
    • 23rd November 2016

    Give him a bone to squelch his bark. If it comes back to bite you, only a season is lost.

    • Michele Owens
    • 30th November 2016

    Send Alan my way. I’ll show him how to train that puppy.

    • admin
    • 30th November 2016

    Oh, this made me chuckle with delight. It is just like puppies and children. I have a new puppy and guess who runs through my garden tearing it to shreds.

    • admin
    • 1st December 2016

    I had success building my raised veggie beds. They don’t require water everyday – for that matter I only watered a few days a week in the summer in TEXAS. :)

    • Layanee
    • 6th December 2016

    Four Season Harvest, Eliot Coleman. The bible of vegetable growing. Lettuce comes early and stays late. Many colors available. Go for it, Eliz. Embrace the zucchini.

    • lifeshighway
    • 8th December 2016

    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.

    • Yolanda Elizabet
    • 9th December 2016

    There is an easy solution to your problems………….. just get a new husband. 😉

    • Jerry Kenney
    • 9th December 2016

    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.”

    • admin
    • 9th December 2016

    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.

    • amy manning
    • 10th December 2016

    Haha. My husband asked some silly questions like that too. At first he told me that vegetable gardening is easy–you just throw seeds in the ground!

    • JadeRubick
    • 10th December 2016

    Send him to (a social networking site for gardeners). We love newbie questions, and there are lots of people there to help out.

    • Laura Bell
    • 10th December 2016

    I’m with Christopher & Lisa – get the espaliered fruit tree. If he doesn’t like to bend over, raised beds can only go so far (saves the knees, but not so much the back). Try trellising instead. Not just the obvious veggies like pole beans, but also cucumbers & melons & squash & nasturtiums (for some of that pretty, edible color). If he’s willing to trellis & train them, even tomatoes won’t require too much stooping.

    • Tom Fischer
    • 10th December 2016

    No, no, no to the espaliered fruit tree. They require highly specialized knowledge to keep them in good form–otherwise they go to hell faster than you can say “secateurs.” Plus fruit trees like apples and pears are subject to a whole litany of pests and plagues; if you’re an organic gardener, it’s just going to lead to tears in the end.

    • Joseph Tychonievich
    • 10th December 2016

    Clearly, this man needs to be growing Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) It is a lovely, tall (I know you like tall plants) sunflower with very showy flowers (great for cutting) with yummy potato-like tubers to harvest in the fall. They’re very tough natives, and they should be planted now. You can order them, or just find them for sale as food at any cool grocery store and plant those. And they’re perennial — so no need to replant every year, just leave some tubers behind when you harvest.

    • nobody
    • 10th December 2016

    I get the puppy issue, but it really seems like you’re overreacting.

    • meemsnyc
    • 10th December 2016

    It’ll be fun for him. I think the best part of gardening is the experimentation.

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