Some of my earliest memories are of my father in a circa 1970’s Speedo, standing over our backyard vegetable garden with a hose in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Actually if he was feeling particularly coordinated he had the hose in one hand, a beer in the other and a cigarette sticking out of his lips at the perfect angle to avoid getting smoke in his eyes.  He grew his own vegetables because it was healthier.

Looking down the line of backyards through the chain link fence it was a similar vision, with the fathers, their Speedos and their vegetable gardens.  The women seemed to prefer the more genteel activities of the day like doing their nails and popping valium.

I took after my father.  I loved vegetable gardening from day 1 and couldn’t get over  how amazing it was that  you could plant a little spec of something and come back a few months later and find food.  Actually that’s modern day me talking. When I was little I could barely wait the 3 weeks it took to make a radish.  Part of the other reason I got so into vegetable gardening was the fact that there was a huge, family owned organic (wayyyy before organic was a thing) vegetable seed distributor near our house.  William Dam Seeds was promoting organic seeds and growing when that sort of thing was just plain weird.  A passing phase for sure.


I went through their seed catalogue the way most kids would go through a toy catalogue.  I grew butternut squash and Rainbow Swiss Chard and other things my mother looked sideways at. She hated gardening by the way.  Still does.   Why grow peas that didn’t even have a can surrounding them?  It didn’t make any sense.

So when our community garden needed someone to organize their plant sale this year guess who volunteered!!    Not me.  I have too much stuff to do.  No, my name was forwarded, nominated and elected without me ever raising my hand.  So, as it turns out, I organized the plant sale.

Where I sold chicken eggs.


And yes, plants.

cell-packs table-plants

There are about 50 members in our community garden and it’s the widest range of people you could imagine.  Everyone from University students to octogenarians, black, white, gay, straight, they are all at the community garden.  It’s great.



This fine lady is from Zimbabwe for example and showed me how to till the soil “African Style” with a massive, frightening looking hoe.  Africans apparently don’t do shovels.



From Earl the octogenarian I learned you cannot trust someone not to steal just because they’re an octogenarian.  Sticky fingers that Earl.  Just kidding.  Earl is GREAT and I’m pretty sure he’s everyone’s favourite gardener.  He even likes me even though he knows I swear when the weather is cold.



This vintage egg holder was the perfect thing for holding individual cells of plants.  It would also be perfect for ice cream cones but it’s still too cold out.  Shit.  GARGTFF.  Shit.  Sorry Earl.  Just kidding by the way. It was cold the day of the plant sale but it’s currently a bazilliokajillmazillion degrees.




plant-sale-pinny 2

Yup.  My Rough Linen Pinafore.  The big pockets were great for collecting money.  That I had pickpocketed.

If you have a small organization this kind of thing is a great way to raise money by the way.  We rocked it.  A bunch of people (myself included) volunteered to grow plants and everyone who didn’t grow plants showed up to buy some. We had a HUGE variety of stuff like cabbages, brussels sprouts (yeah they didn’t get the note about how gross brussels sprouts are), an insane variety of heirloom and rare cherry tomatoes, my mix of heirloom tomatoes, ground cherries, turnip, herbs, aloe plants, onions, heirloom leeks, 3 different types of kale and a bunch of other stuff.  That’s my excellent story telling ability showing it’s head there.  “A bunch of other stuff” is often seen in great literary works of fiction.



turnip black-krim


You know one of the reasons I really wish my father was alive is so he could see just how much I’ve embraced vegetable gardening.  I’m sure he’d be proud of the gardens I keep and all the work I put into it all.  My mother? Well she’s just proud I don’t do it in a Speedo, with a beer in one hand and a cig in the other.


Have a great weekend!







  1. christine says:

    Speaking of gardening,the rhubarb is ready so once again I’m cursing that asshat Mindy and her cake I can’t stop eating.

    • Karen says:

      I have so much rhubarb I don’t even know what to do with it! I’d better just start picking it and freezing it I guess! ~ karen

  2. pat says:

    Black Krim; I’ve never had a problem growing tomatoes until I purchased a Black Krim plant last year. Never again. The plant wilted every time the sun shone while all the others types of tomatoes flourished. I babied that thing through the summer and said never again. If my plants can’t handle what I think are normal conditions, they’re not going to last long in my garden! Anybody else have this issue?

  3. Cindy says:

    I love that you have a community like this. We don’t have that in my neck of the woods.

    I’m def gonna look up the Fibre Optic plant. So cool.

    What is Black Krim??

    Love your display signs Karen. You got a DIY how-to on them??

    • Karen says:

      Well. They’re from Dollarama. :) The display signs, not the Black Krim. The one for the eggs is just a frame that I stick a piece of blackboard in. Black Krim is one of my favourite varieties of tomato. :) ~ karen!

  4. Kelli says:

    What, you tease us with a description of “hot” dad in Speedos, beer and cig, yet you don’t post a photo? The .

    It would only be a more perfect “dad photo” if that fashion statement were completed by loafers (or even oxfords) and black socks. OOH. WEE.

    Speaking of Speedos…my bro’s were swimmers all through high school and they and their teammates were very fit, but even they looked questionable in ’em at times. Hey, even Rod shouldn’t do them any more! http://tinyurl.com/hk8lvmc *grimace* *shudder*

    btw, you look adorbs in your gardening pinafore!

  5. Heather (mtl) says:

    My mother had a veggie garden when we were young, but I also recall my grandmother’s garden in the countryside of Halifax, NS. I still miss spending summers there (oh! the wild blueberries! She lived on a hill made of blueberries and we’d make Blueberry Grunt- yumm!) She was the epitome of pioneer as she chopped her own wood, recycled (flattened all her tins) and burned whatever she could. The compost pile was huge, the rain barrels huge and the freezer full (freeze whole cleaned fish in sea water with their tails sticking up for identifying)
    Gardening is soo much more than visiting a plot of land, as I have grown to know.
    Besides, on the days when my arthritis pain makes me cranky, working in the garden can be a wonderful distraction. At least I’m getting out, right?!
    Thought: if you get more than 1 chicken, how about a contest to name her?
    PS: my laptop (chrome) is slowing on your site again. I’ve cleaned the cache already.

    • Karen says:

      Hey Heather! let me know if there are any video ads running. That is apparently what slows things down. Companies are using flash videos for advertising which are basically obsolete, which means the browsers don’t support them anymore. In a year or so Flash will be gone completely. But until then I’ve asked my advertising supplier to stop running all video ads on my site. I was under the impression that was to start today but if your site is slow then maybe not! ~ karen

  6. Rondina says:

    I think you should interview the lady from Zimbabwe and show how she gardens differently than we do. (Showing the massive hoe.)

    • Karen says:

      That’s a good idea Rondina! Even what she grows is different. They don’t like sweet corn, they like corn that’s … more like cow corn really! Actually she has promised to teach me to make African polenta if I show her how to make a cob oven. I think she’s getting the easier deal, lol. Her mother used to cook in cob in Zimbabwe but she never learned how to. So apparently I’m much more African than she is. ;) ~ karen!

  7. Benjamin says:

    I live in a condo now and grow veggies and things on my balcony. Twist of coincidence I have gays in speedos on one side and a Zimbabwe ho on the other… I give away extra tomatoes to all of them.

  8. I grew up in the 70’s as well, and remember wide-legged pantsuits, lots of cocktails and cigarettes!!! Ah – the good old days…

    I’m sure your Dad would be very proud!

  9. Stephanie says:

    great job karen! really cute. thx for the inspiration. think u inspired my next attempt at a fundraiser for our small group. woot!

  10. Kelly says:

    I love vegetable gardening as well and I get polite laughs when I take my early seed catalogues to in-laws family Christmas for a good read. BUT it’s a different story when they see all the produce in my garden! My favourite is growing different squashes. This one in particular: pink banana squash. It’s not familiar-you don’t seed them in many seed catalogues, although I have seen the seeds at Canadian tire a few times (I have about a million seeds saved).

    They are a delicate squash-great for baking and terrific for soups-not stringy and not meaty and just plain fun to grow as they get huge! I still have one from last year so they keep well. (This is after I gave many away, whether people liked it or not!) It measures 22″ long and 25″ in diameter, roughly. Actually I think that’s one of the smaller ones! They are oblong and cantaloupe in colour.

    Sadly, not much of garden for me this year. :( We’re moving from Saskatchewan to Ontario this summer at some point. It’ll be interesting to see what I can grow in the great Canadian shield!

  11. Jody says:

    I was giggling and guffawing and enjoying the photos until the last paragraph. Now I’m tearing up…..

  12. Alexandra says:

    Great post! Love your Rough Linen pinafore photo. I have one too and am about to buy a second!
    PS…don’t hate me but I LOVE Brussels sprouts!! :-)

  13. Dale says:

    My gardening mentors, Grandpa and Dad, wouldn’t have worn Speedoes if their life depended on it. Bibs. OshKosh B’gosh bibs. More pockets than you can think.
    Huge gardens. 25 by 40 yards. Tons of potatoes, corn, tomatoes, to be canned and stored for the winter. Its what got them through the Depression years. That and Grandma’s chicken eggs, sold to make the mortgage payments. Yep, the good ol’ days.

  14. Rosemary says:

    Thank you god not having a picture of your dad in speedo, with cigarette, beer and hose. Sometimes the “good ‘ol days” should stay back there .

  15. maggie van sickle says:

    Geeze Louise you do everything in a classy way. Loved the way you displayed your plants for sale, the signage (is that even a word and did I spell it right?) , the containers and the apron? Well the apron says it all what can I say! Have a great weekend.

  16. Sboo says:

    My grandpa was so proud of his tomatoes, and even though he died when I was young, I would bet money that he watered them with a beer in the other hand. He also grew snapdragons, fed the alligator in the pond behind them (Tarpon Springs, FL), and fished every single day after he retired. I deeply wish I could have known him as an adult – thanks for inspiring a trip down memory lane.

  17. Kate says:

    My dad didn’t garden, but you should have seen my great grandmother, Cornelia, at 94 years of age. Mind picture: Cornelia in her dress, PF Flyers and huge straw hat whipping the raspberry canes into shape . Cornelia was hot stuff. And those raspberries behaved or else!

    I loooove your blog!

    Best regards from Boston,

  18. Leslie Crawford says:

    I did the same thing when I was a kid Karen. I just loved planting things in the huge veggie garden my mom had. She had a great green thumb. We grew things no one had ever heard of. We even had a food dehydrator when we were teenagers when no one had one. We had chickens in the City backyard along with the huge veggie garden. Thankfully my mom kept her clothes on and didn’t wear a bathing suit when watering, just smoked LOL

  19. Laurie says:

    Hi Karen, I so wish I could have gone to your plant sale!! I live in your area and recognize a lot of the landmarks you talk about in your posts. I bought grass seed at William Dam last year! I have to admit that whenever I see a cute blonde from behind I can’t help but think…”is that Karen??!!”” Alas, it never is!!

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      So are you sayin’ she’s got a cute behind? Gotta love the girly shoulder shrug in the pic too!

  20. Ruth says:

    I’m pretty sure I’m not seeing brassicas behind the sign that says there ought to be some. Were they all sold already. (Just being nosey, because… why not?)

    I know what fibre optic cables are, but… fibre optic plants? Are they edible? Or purely decorative?

    • Karen says:

      Purely decorative Ruth. They look like a plant of tinsel with tiny lights on the each piece of tinsel. Only it’s not made of tinsel and doesn’t really have lights, lol. They sort of shaped like an umbrella. And you’re right! Those are heirloom leeks behind the brassicas sign, lol. There were plenty of brassicas, the sign was just in the wrong place during the photo for some reason. ~ karen!

  21. Wendy says:

    Nobody in my family gardened. My dad did wear a skimpy yellow speedo and smoke all through the 70’s, and looked pretty good all considering.
    Now I sort of garden. Not vegetables. Just pots outside. Great beds filled with perennials front and back. I have a gardener to do all the heavy lifting in the spring, while I’m working full time and exhausted from my days as a teacher and my nights and weekends as the mother of two rambunctious warriors.
    This year Warrior #1 and I planted beans and sunflowers. I have arugula seeds, but it might be too late. I might actually try tomatoes from plants not seeds. Warrior #1 might be my partner in crime in the coming years, which I would be happy with. I like digging and mucking about.
    No speedo and cigarettes for me though.

  22. Ellen says:

    Nope, Dad was an old school farmer, no Speedo, no Cigarettes but a straw hat was the norm, t-shirt = farmers tan and green work pants.
    We had a massive garden and we learned to weed at a very young age. :)
    Dad would can tomatoes until 1-2 am in the morning some nights too.
    His mother was the gardener in his family and my Maternal Grandfather was the gardener on the other side.
    Long live the backyard veggie garden!

  23. Melissa in NC says:

    My mom gardened similar to your dad minus the speedo and the beer. I have a photograph of her somewhere watering her massive garden with a garden hose and a cig in her mouth wearing purple shorts. Love that pic. Mom’s been gone a long time but I still have that visual. Great post!

  24. Ev Wilcox says:

    When my dad retired he actually CUTDOWN AN APPLE TREE so he could have a vegetable garden! He would cajole us, his three daughters, to make apple or cherry pies. So you know how much he wanted a garden, to cut down a fruit tree to do it! Somehow he dealt with the roots, but left the stump to sit on and commune with his garden. He would ask us it we wanted an onion-and that’s what we got, one onion! He let everything get as big as possible, so THE onion was huge and hot! I garden much less now as my back hates me. I miss my dad.

  25. Ann says:

    From the parent of a competitive swimmer, I can tell you that speedo’s only belong on someone ready to dive in and swim for their lives. Even many of them now wear a longer version. But I have seen many a saggy aged body wearing them on European beaches and let me tell you, it is a vision that will never leave you.

    Karen, I have long wanted to do a plant sale or exchange among folks in our immediate area. You are giving me hope that maybe I can try it next year.

    I also want to say, and I hope this doesn’t upset you. But every time I come to your blog page now my computer gets so incredibly slow, that I am actually writing this in Word and doing a copy and paste. I am on the internet all day long, shame on me, but no other page or website does this to me. I am sure it is due to one of the current ads running since it did not happen before. Is anybody else having this happen? I love your blog. Actually is my very favorite out of about 25 I follow. I don’t expect you to figure this out just for me, but possibly if anybody else is also having this happen, maybe it would be good to look into it. Again, you are my favorite and I am not trying to fuss at you at all. Just letting you know…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann! No, that’s fine I want to know if people are having problems with the new ads! It’s usually just a cache problem, but if it isn’t I have to tell the people who provide the ads to me! So. I need to know what you’re reading my site on. What type of computer/laptop/tablet or phone and what browser you’re using. Thx! ~ karen

      • Ann says:

        I have cleared my cache several times in the last few weeks since I had gotten the suggestion from someone else. But as I said, if it is just me, don’t worry about it. But if anyone else says they are having issues then I knew you would want to try and get it solved. I actually like most of your ads since they are things you pick and they are unique, interesting and stuff I won’t ever find anywhere else. I hope if it is an ad, it is one of the more commercial companies that come up on the side.

        • Karen says:

          O.K., well let me know what browser you’re using and what device. :) ~ karen!

        • Ann says:

          Chrome and a lenovo ideapad laptop. What ever is happening must be a conflict with the flash player embedded in Chrome. I uninstalled the version that came with W8.

          But this morning after I mentioned this, I got the message that my flash player had crashed. As soon as I hit reload things got better. But again, as I said before no other site seems to be doing this to me. And I don’t think I could deinstall the built in flash player from Chrome. Not unless someone much more savvy than me could walk me thru it. Plus then maybe other stuff wouldn’t work either. Karen, I love that you care about this. But don’t work at it too hard…..you got chickens to watch out for and gardening to do. And so do I at this point today…Smile cause you are loved

        • Karen says:

          Hey Ann! It’s is definitely the flash player on video ads. The advertisers have let me know that Flash is being phased out and a lot of browsers just plain old aren’t supporting it anymore. So. I’ve removed all video ads from my site. Although the odd one might still slip past. So let me know if that fixes things for you. The only issue is, to make up for lost revenue on those ads (I guess video ads paid higher), I might have to add another ad to my site, lol. It won’t slow it down though! Thanks for the info. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Oop! So try clearing your cache first. :) ~ karen!

      • Penny says:

        Thanks for taking off the video ad, Karen. And thank you, too, Ann, for posting your comment.
        I kept getting a dialogue box message about a ‘long-running script’ that would NOT go away no matter what I tried. Being a bit of a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal when it comes to laptopamabobs and all electrickery my solution was to show the computer that I was the boss by turning him off and putting him under the sofa as a punishment, telling him that he could come out when he’d decided to let me read your blog.
        When my digital-savvy son came round he said that you probably had a dodgy ad on your site and the problem would be solved if I re-installed ad-blocker. He was incredulous when I wouldn’t do it!

        • Karen says:

          LOL. Well thank you Penny for not reinstalling the ad blocker. It isn’t dodgy ads, it’s that so many companies are still using “flash” which is outdated technology with their videos. ~ karen!

  26. Wendy Iles says:

    Our family must have been the odd ones, for it was the females that gardened. I manage our community garden program and definitely No speedos there! (No cigs either!)

  27. Melissa says:

    Was waiting for the vintage b&w of your dad in the garden with his cigarette…

  28. Jenny W says:

    Thank goodness my Father thought of his children’s future mental health, and forgo the speedo!
    But yes, Dad always did the gardening, both veggie and flower, and Mom did the canning and cooking. There were buttts involved, and wine, lotsa wine :)

  29. Rose says:

    Dang Girl, my Dad wore a Speedo too….purple, and I wish I could knock that visual from my memory bank! He didn’t garden much, just watered the grass while enjoying a”beveridge”.

  30. Lindy says:

    What a great thing to do: brava. And I loved and envied that vintage egg holder. A good find there. If you look on my website today you can see the AMAZING brass vases I found in my favourite French junk shop. Dirt cheap and utterly fab. What more could one want? http://www.fruitfulresearch.com

    Did you know what Australians call speedos? Budgie Smugglers.

  31. Marna says:

    I remember my dad letting me have little areas in the gardens to try growing many different things. I grew potatoes with the roses, flowers with his own vegetables etc. He had multiple garden areas and chickens. I sure miss him (died 24 years ago) and those times. Cute photo of you! :)

  32. whitequeen96 says:

    Oh man, I was really hoping for a photo of your Dad in his Speedo. I’m sure he would have been cute!

  33. Jacquie says:

    I think it used to be mainly men who grew veg and stuff because in those days, allotments were the equivalent of a man cave – bit of peace and quiet away from the kids and wife. My 83 year old dad still grows enough tomatoes to feed the whole street.

  34. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Really great plants…really great prices!

  35. Lez says:

    In the UK they call Speedos ‘Budgie smugglers’, which I think is hilarious! Picture it Karin & Cred!! :)

  36. MissChris SA says:

    My grandpa was the ultimate gardener. His weekend sport was gardening – he had a massive massive garden and that is where he spent his weekends. I think the only fruit he did not have may have been custard apples and brussel sprouts for veggies. I used to love watching him garden. It was fitting that he passed away as a result of his gardening (had a heart attack whilst gardening).

    I never thought I inherited his love for gardening but the older I get, the more I enjoy it and my veggie garden has become my all time favourite. As you say, there is something really satisfying about watching something you planted grow into something edible and the taste of home grown food far surpasses any shop bought produce!

  37. Cred says:

    And I can relate to ‘dad in a speedo’. Mine never gardened in his but he wears one to this day. Now, my dad is still really fit in his senior years but still… really, Dad? The speedo does no one justice- think of the children…. your children”

  38. Cred says:

    Okay, this is based on a very small sample size, but it seems to me that perhaps at one time, men tended the vegetable garden moreso than women. My maternal grandfather but never my grandmother, our neighbour’s husband, my guy’s dad, my dad did, never my mom (she occupied her time with things my dad couldn’t do himself, like castrate the pigs- yep, she did). Now, at least in the small circle I dwell in, it seems the trend is for women to grow the veg garden rather than the men.
    Perhaps a poll of TAODS readers is warranted in a future post.

  39. Kathleen says:

    Your dad, my dad… same gardening style. My dad these days only waters the garden and issues instructions about what to plant where. Well, he is 80 after all. And prefers walking to bending and kneeling.

    He grows the most wonderful fruit these days, not so much vegetables. My mother was the veggie gardener.

    Another wonderful post, invoking the most wonderful memories. Thank you for that.

  40. Stephanie Barnhart says:

    I’d be afraid to garden in speedos. Too many bug bites! Yikes!

  41. Sue says:

    GARGTFF means?

  42. Brenda says:

    Cigarette butt – haha …

  43. lavacha says:

    I have a neighbour that still rocks your dad’s style, and another living memory: a little old lady that looks like she sprung from a Doris Day movie. My gran used to garden like that ;)

  44. DLM says:

    Genteel perhaps, rather than “gentile”? Which is not to say that one cannot be both at the same time of course!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Perhaps a genteel, gentile. Uch. That’s the THIRD typo in this post! I just corrected 2 other ones! ~ karen

  45. A guy says:

    I mean cigarette.

  46. A guy says:

    Great visual, except for the butt.

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