Calling All People I’ve Inspired to Start a Vegetable Garden.

Do you actually do stuff?  I think you do.  In fact I think Art of Doing Stuff readers are one of the few lifestyle blog audiences that often do stuff.

As a blogger I do stuff, take pictures of it, write about it and then throw it out there into the world.  Sometimes my goal is to show you how smart and great I am so you’ll compliment me and I’ll develop a strong sense of self worth that will last me until my next massive failure.  But usually the goal is to show you if I can do it (I’m have zero formal training in anything)  then you can do it.

If I can do it you can do it. Remember that.

Usually the only difference between someone who can do something and someone who can’t, is the first person has actually tried.  This doesn’t hold true for anything that includes electricity or plutonium, but most everything else I think.

The dirty secret of DIY and lifestyle blogging (other than the fact that we all secretly eat Zoodles for dinner) is that most readers never do any of the projects we show them.  They like to see them and imagine that one day they will do them, but usually don’t.

I think you’re different.

It’s probably my ego (which you’ve built up quite nicely, thank you very much) but I feel like The Art of Doing Stuff readers actually … do stuff.  I’m amazed at how many people have done one of my biggest, most difficult projects to date, the Cob Pizza Oven.

In the past week I’ve had quite a few people tell me they finally started a vegetable garden after reading my blog.  Everything from a few pots on their balcony to big-ass gardens with hoop houses and everything.

I cannot tell you how much I love hearing that.  For one thing because it means my berating actually works and two because a vegetable garden does more than feed your gut, it feeds your soul. Yes. Yes I did. I went there.  Straight into Hallmark territory.

So instead of stroking my ego today (although it will be an indirect sort of stroke) if you started a vegetable garden in the past few years because of The Art of Doing Stuff I’d like you to let me know.  Or maybe you’ve expanded your garden or added in some different varieties because you saw them here on my blog.  Maybe you adapted a new technique like string training or hinged hoop houses.

I’m just curious. Also I feel like if YOU say you did it, then you’ll inspire other people.  Those readers who have thought about starting a vegetable garden but need that last push from someone other than an insane gardener like myself.

AND I’d also like you to include a picture of it. Don’t worry. I won’t judge the weeds.  Weeds are pretty much impossible to keep up with at this time of year.  So are zucchini.

This weekend I’ll be weeding my garden, deciding whether or not to pick the cabbages to make cabbage rolls for the winter and making some roasted tomato sauce for the winter as well.  I will not on the other hand be doing anything with plutonium.

Have a good weekend and get those pictures uploaded.

Those Zoodles by the way?  Straight outta the can.


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  1. woniya says:

    Reconfigured veggie beds. I have really awful clay soil and was inspired to just go for it, install drip, and raise the beds up. Thanks so much for your awesome garden information. Next summer, I’m going to go vertical with the tomatoes. I got fusarium wilt in the soil that was delivered, sadly, so my crop mainly died. I’m solarizing, and going with wilt resistant heirlooms per your advice next year. Thanks again so much for all of the inspiration.

  2. woniya says:

    Painted with my new airless paint gun sprayer. I built this cart for a portable pizza oven stand with my new kreg jig, and table saw. It’s still in need of the hardware and handles etc..I plan to put on it, so not quite finished yet. My lord, I have no idea why I hadn’t purchased one of these sprayers before. It took me two hours to put half a coat of regular spray can spray paint on this cart, and it looked awful. I caved, and bought the spray gun that uses air, and oh my goddess! I had the cart (and my patio sadly)(and my bbq) totally, evenly sprayed in about twenty minutes. I will never use spray paint in a can again. SO fast SO easy. I can totally see now why you rave about these spray painters so much. Next one I buy will be the full size model so I can paint my own house! Girls with TOOLS. Next summer, I’ll take on the mud oven.

  3. woniya says:

    My espaliered apple tree, just finished the lines last weekend. I’m going to build a box to cover the ugly drip line/spigot. But you were the one who inspired me to even try this out on my ugly garage wall.

  4. Sara H-M says:

    I love love love your blog! I’ve been gardening and making for a while but watching you is so very inspiring. Last year we got chickens. And when I was trying to figure out how to make a coop & run look good in the garden, well you can see for yourself. Look familiar? And, really, it took probably just as long as yours did to build. But we did it. 😊Thank you so much! Sara

  5. Roxy says:

    Hi Karen,
    This garden is inspired by you. I busted my hump this spring making the beds and building the fence. Thanks for all the posts on how to use excess zucchini (chocolate smoothies!) and I love making your roasted tomato sauce (I’m no longer a tomato waster). Keep doing stuff and sharing how to do it!

    • Karen says:

      It looks great Roxy! And I just made roasted tomato sauce last night, lol. It’s never ending. Like … never! ~ karen

  6. Shannon says:

    I have not started a vegetable garden (not enough sun), but I will in a future home. Thanks to you, I raised monarchs this year; the first of seven hatched yesterday. My husband made your grill brush per my recommendation. But, mostly, I’m guilty of not doing stuff. I guess I need a post about motivation. :P

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for many years; I think it’s pretty much the highlight of the Internet. Your projects, your writing style, and your wit always keep me coming back. Keep up the great work.

  7. Nancy says:

    I can’t remember when I started reading your blog (last fall ?) I have to admit you blew me away with the cob oven and Restoration Hardware outdoor furniture! I spent hours checking out the interesting stuff you’d posted all the while laughing my ass off. You inspired me to enlarge my existing 16 x 16 veggie garden. I even ordered things I had never tried before from Dam Seeds. I ended up building three additional 4 x 8 raised beds. Thank you for the inspiration!! My neighbours are really happy with the harvest as well.

  8. Dana says:

    I had a garden, but you inspired me to build a chicken coop, fix washing machines, and patch drywall. Now we are building an outdoor shower me I keep wishing that you had built one first, so I could borrow your ideas!

    Here’s the pink popcorn and butternut squash patch.

  9. celestial says:

    I’ve always been someone who does a lot of things by myself (painting, knitting, reupholstering, making drapes and slipcovers, mending anything that family brings me), but you have inspired me most to write about what I do. Your descriptions and posts are so darn funny that I am just in awe of your writing and comedic exploits…the sister that introduced your blog to me recently read your account of “the menstrual cup” in the car and I swear most of us wet our pants laughing. You have a rare gift and I am so glad you use it!

  10. Lynn says:

    I had already started gardening before I ‘met’ you but I have learned a lot from your gardening posts! A few years ago, I was preparing to build a chicken house & was searching for a ‘plan’ to give me a bit of inspiration. I found the loveliest chicken house I have ever seen on Pinterest–before Pinterest pissed me off–but knew it was outside my skill set. My chicken house is more rustic looking than that very elegant Pinterest chicken house. I laughed out loud when I started reading your blog and learned that the elegant chicken house is yours! I am fearless about starting most projects and my ‘skill set’ grows with every one of those projects. Thanks for all the encouragement and great ideas!

  11. TBell says:

    The string method for tomatoes!
    Photo from november last year as I am in Southern Hemisphere but have my seedlings (grown from seed – yippee) waiting to be planted up to their top pair of leaves beneath my string frame. I had failed with tomatoes until last season when I strung them up. Still battling some bottom end rot on them but had enough success to go again this year. Think I will need to extend my veg patch soon.

    Plus let me just say your meatball recipe has become my meatball recipe. I have become quite famous for it and even sold a batch in a fundraising auction.

    I found you because of the fluffy bums when I started raising my own hens and have stayed for all the practical implementable tips and advice even though I’m on the opposite side of the world. This is a biggie actually – most blog advice relies on some obscure item not attainable here in Africa. Other than vintage furniture shopping everything works in my world. Thank you Karen.
    (p.s. the laughter is just the cherry on the cake!)

    • Karen says:

      Hey TBell! Where in Africa are you? South Africa? (that’s where most of my African readers are) I had blossom end rot on one of my tomatoes as well. That’s why I started growing less heirlooms this year and more disease resistant heirlooms. :/ ~ karen!

  12. Kelly says:

    No veggie garden here, but I am half way through my Masters degree which I wrote down as a “frog” from your workshop a few years ago. Once school is done, I may try to be get some container gardening going. For now just trying to keep a few orchids alive. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration!

  13. Celia says:

    Yes, you inspire, encourage, and generally make all things seem possible. I found your blog this spring when I was trying to decide if I should put in a garden or build a coop and get some chicks. Both were long time aspirations and first time endeavors. I managed to do both! I now have an (over)abundant garden – tomatoes and basil for days and watermelon that’s trying to take over the neighborhood – and the sweetest flock of freeloading chickens, can’t wait for them to start laying! I love how varied your posts are and how each one feels like a personal conversation with you. Thank you!

  14. Rose says:

    Your posts were definitely the inspiration behind my garden this year! I’m in northern Alaska, so our growing season is short but intense, and with two little kids and a baby I had pretty much made up my mind to not even try growing anything this year… And then I kept reading about your gardening adventures, and I had to plant at least something. I have one raised bed with cabbages and herbs, and the kids planted radishes and carrots. It’s not much, but we have been so glad to have those few things fresh from the garden!

  15. Kate says:

    I got chickens because of you. (I mean, I’ve always wanted them, but you made them look less like work and more like friends.)

    And I did string-train my tomatoes because of you. In my front yard. My neighbors are so very lucky. Next year, I’ll have proper garden beds and they’ll be planted where they belong. And with a proper spacing.

  16. Pollinisia Reid says:

    I’ve been reading this for a few months now and I love it! I moved in February and now gave a house with a garden. My first thing was to start growing. If had pots before but having ground was great! I have peas, courgettes, strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers which are all coming along amazingly!
    Reading your weekly emails that I get make me laugh and inspire me. Next year I will tie up my tomatoes like you’ve said to do and we’ll a&e what happens 😊

  17. Kristin Smith says:

    I have expanded my wildlife garden, and this year I’m growing hops! But I moved to a new house on August 10th, from rental to owning, so I’m excited to start a new garden PERMANENTLY and sad to leave my old one. I did transplant native ferns, and two hops plants, but they aren’t looking good – heat stress and being potted up did not make them happy. I also dug up my grandmother’s irises from my rental to new house, but the weather hasn’t cooperated with me replanting them so far. I’m hoping to get some rain to loosen the soil, and get them in the ground this week.

  18. Patricia says:

    Does thinking about planting a veggie garden someday, maybe when I’ve retired, count? Too hot most of this summer in CA to even think about being outdoors after 10:00 a.m.
    not familiar with Zoodles.

  19. Lynn says:

    We actually DID start a garden this year and have actually eaten stuff from it!! Next year we will do some things differently, for instance string training and panty hose for melons, but we got our feet wet this year. More than once.
    The picture is early on when we were just starting it.

  20. D Peterson says:

    This is not my garden but where my grandchildren snack, hideout, cut flowers, and their neighbour’s cat lurks there as well. Every year it starts off as a neatly squared off plan with everything in its place. Before long it is wild with flowers and beans and zucchini and peas and cucumbers and who knows what else. But no clearly defined pathways. It is a jungle to struggle through, and occasionally a sweet face pops up with a green snack for Gramma to try. I love it.

  21. Tara says:

    I have been inspired by you. Always dabbled in the garden a bit but last fall I got my hubby and son to expand my garden and build a fence to keep the bunnies, moose and deer out. This year I’ve planted tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, kohlrabi, beets, Carolina pine berries, strawberries, beans, peas, corn and zucchini. But what I realllly want to do is plant vegetables on my front lawn. I have the copy of Canadian Gardening featuring your garden. I wants!!! Hubs isn’t on board with the idea. Yet. I’ve cleared a spot and put in a few perennials so far. Next year I’ll sneak the veggies in :). Love your blog. Makes me smile every time.

    • Karen says:

      Oh! Look at your nice big garden and your nice big yard! You could do kartwheels in there! Love it. Absolutely just sneak the vegetables in. He’ll never notice. Not even a tomato plant if you do it well. ;) I have celery, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, lemongrass, etc. all in my front yard and still the only thing anyone notices this year are the flowers. ~ karen!

  22. Shauna Rudy says:

    I’ve done lots of things because of your blog! I won’t be able to remember them all but here are some. One of the first was making a Halloween door wreath. I still put it up and get compliments every year. I’ve fixed things, like my oven and refrigerator. I’ve made lots of your recipes. Wet-sanded a drywall patch job. Cleaned my chandelier with your DIY cleaner. I’ve bought a number of the things you’ve recommended (I try to always use your links). Last summer I string-trained tomatoes, which worked great except that I never got to enjoy any tomatoes because every time they were almost ripe, a critter enjoyed them instead. For shorter crops, do the hinged hoop houses keep out opossums and raccoons, or would they just rip right through the fabric? Anyway, thanks for all of the inspiration!

    • Karen says:

      Wow. That’s an impressive list of stuff, lol! I’ve never had opossums or raccoons or anything for that matter rip into the hoop houses, BUT there aren’t things in there that they’re particularly attracted to. They don’t really care about brussels sprouts or kale. If there were tomatoes in there it might be a different story. ~ karen!

  23. Kim says:

    You inspired me to blanch the massive amounts of swiss chard that I have. I really wanted to just stuff it all in the freezer, but no…sigh… I took all, that extra time and effort to do it properly. I can use the extra freezer space for ice cream!

  24. Kathryn says:

    I started a front yard vegetable garden after thinking about it for a few years, and then seeing your photos of your front yard veggie garden gave me the kick in the pants I needed. I was not a novice gardener but I was so scared of it looking ugly (what would people think!?) that it took me a few years of thinking about it (and looking for pics of nice front yard vegetable gardens) before I ripped out my grass. I’m SO happy I did! I love walking out my front door to water, harvest tomatoes, or read on my porch shielded by my massive Syrian Stuffing Eggplant plant. I’m posting a picture of last night’s harvest, and you can see more pics on my IG, @frontyardveggiegarden .

    • Karen says:

      I’m so glad to have given you the shove. Front yard vegetable gardens are the best! Are those hot or sweet banana peppers? Whatcha gonna do with ’em? ~ karen!

      • Kathryn says:

        They’re sweet. We’re eating them as we go, but I’d also like to try fermenting them. I bought a book by Sandor Katz (also thanks to you!) to make pickles and am hoping I can find something in there about peppers.

  25. Jodie LeCaine says:

    I have been an avid flower gardener for years. When I came across your blog and followed you because of your awesome sense of humor, I was inspired to start a vegetable garden. I have a slightly larger than average yard in Winnipeg and last year had my husband and boys build me 3 raised beds as my birthday present. I used the string method on my tomatoes and rave about how well it works. I trellis the cucumbers as I need to think vertically and next springs project is to build more permanent (and visually appealing) trellises. I love wandering around the garden before work, filling a baggie with cherry tomatoes and beans to snack on during the day. One day soon, I will be motivated to try the pizza oven…it’s on my list….

  26. Christy says:

    OK so I have a garden too. But what is different about us is you look as cute as a button…easy breezy, “oh here I am gardening ya’ll!”…hair all tidy, magazine-ready. Then there is me…a sweaty mess, hair in a pony tail but mostly tendrils frizzing to oblivion after 15 minutes, swatting at mosquitos,…

  27. You’ve certainly inspired me. I’ve always had a small garden of some description but thanks to you I’ve gone fully crazy. My garden now measures 26 x 72′. I fenced it in this year to stop myself from expanding any farther (and to keep the chickens out). Oh, and the irrigation system you recommended is great. My local garden mentors group is recommending it now too after they helped me install mine. Thanks for the tip. I think I might have to start using the planting planner too now that the garden has reached a mammoth scale. Keep the great ideas coming!

  28. Melanie says:

    My book-long comment wouldnt publish so I’ll just try to post a pic of my first, very humble raised garden bed and cover. It is ridiculous but i dont care, I’m proud! Ill try to cover it in plastic when it gets colder. Thanks for the inspo.

  29. Melanie says:

    I used your recipe to make my first rhubarb crisp out of that crazy plant in the back. Am seriously contemplating buying a paint sprayer. Used oxyclean, checked out & bought stuff at Lee Valley, realized that if one of our ancient appliances broke, like our washer, maybe i could actually try to fix it. Was going to grow monarchs but that thing in the back was not milkweed after all.

    Moved here last year and was afraid to have a garden because
    1. It seemed like a bother
    2. Untamed animal poop everywhere.
    3. Insect damage everywhere.
    4. Rotting plants, dying trees.
    5. Seemed like a bad idea overall.

    But you kept posting about all this stupid gardening stuff instead of cute chicken pics. Eventually i could see the benefits. I showed that pic to my husband where instead of looking chic and strong as usual you look rather like an elven hobo with a shovel. She’s just *little!*, he exclaimed. Yes, I said. *Little!* (No idea). And she made this stuff all by herself. Showed him your raised garden covers.

    So eventually we made a single 4 x 6 raised garden bed using purchased soil. I didnt know why the hooped covers were better and they seemed more complicated so we made a wood one, using both new & salvaged wood in case it was a dumb idea.. I thought id just stick everything inside (away from the awful beasts) so we made the cover hilariously tall for the tomatoes. It took a while because we dont do these things but i guess we couldnt think of a good reason why we couldnt do it if the little chicken lady could do it all by herself.

    When we finally finished on June 30, everywhere was sold out of everything . So i could use only the not-thrilled-looking lettuce, tomato, pepper and strawberry plants that I’d had on life support for a while since i bought them (mostly) at Home Depot.

    Anyway, ill make some changes next year since Ive learned that i cant keep it closed all the time because of the strawberries. And the lettuce towers, idk, but i keep using them. My first tomato is turning red. Now there are a lot of little tomato flowers so i thought id just try sticking plastic over the cover when it gets colder so that we can hopefully eat them. And next year, i have plans to expand to, at least…  2 beds. We’ll see.

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