I endeavoured to take a decidedly more relaxed approach to my writing this week.  Instead of stressing out when my writing wasn’t very good or I couldn’t think of the right word, I’d just get up and walk away from my computer to do something else. Normally I’d stare at my computer until something came to mind. Instead, this week I decided to just walk away and not try to force something that wasn’t there.  I’d go and get my groceries, or take some photos or just sit with the chickens. It was so liberating and SO different from my normal way of doing things.  This little change had a huge impact on today’s blog post.

There isn’t one.

It’s amazing how little work you can accomplish when you give yourself permission to avoid work.  I’m thinking of applying this little gem of a workplace ethic to laundry, dusting, taking out the garbage and maybe even bathing.


this is the me, living my life as a slacker


So instead of the post I had planned for today which is still sitting somewhere in the back recesses of my brain, probably just behind where I store my highschool locker combination, I have a question for you.

The question is based on a few requests I’ve been getting lately about gardening.

It seems as though some of you are a little unsure about this whole vegetable gardening thing.  You want to do it but you don’t want to fail.

So I’ve come up with this little survey for those of you who are starting to think/worry about growing your own garden.

So back to this business of not forcing yourself to work on something if you aren’t in the mood. I know it resulted in a bit of a change of plans for today’s post, but it all worked out. The posts I did eventually write (after petting my cats, hanging out with the chickens, teaching myself to play one chord on the guitar and drinking enough coffee to float a boat) were good. Who can forget There’s a Mouse in the House? Or what might be my favourite DIY EVER? Plus I’m going to find out if there are enough of you out there to warrant sitting my ass in the kitchen 1-4 nights this spring to help you finally grow a successful vegetable garden.

I can’t recommend you all just up and walk away from your work. Especially if you’re, say … a daycare worker. Or a bomb diffuser. But I can recommend growing a garden.

Have a good weekend!  And if you’d like to read the story behind the picture of me slumped at the bottom of the stairs, you can read the whole thing here.



  1. Jamie Shields says:

    27-37-15…my high school locker combo, ya know, if it helps ;)…wow kind of impressed, that was 28 years ago.

  2. MrsChris SA says:

    Have an uber chillaxing weekend!!!

  3. Tina says:

    I’ve been reading about straw bale gardening and really thinking that will be my goal. I am old and don’t bend well, it would be easier for me to reach the bales. And I have a huge front “yard” that’s barren. My house is new and there’s no top soil or anything to grow anything in. And I don’t want to mow so I’m thinking I’ll just do the bales and put bark down between the rows. I’ve always grown flowers, which I’ll do again, but thinking the bales will allow for veg, too. I was going to have a builder make raised beds for me but I feel good about those decision! Opinions?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tina! I’ve tried growing with straw over the years with very, VERY limited success. This past summer I experiment with growing my potatoes in only straw. Now I had my doubts, but don’t like to dismiss OR recommend something unless I try it myself. It was the worst, most pathetic crop (can you call about 4 potatoes from about 32 square feet a crop?) I’ve ever grown. So although I can’t comment on straw bale gardening (where you plant a plant in a very small amount of soil in a straw bale) I can tell you it’s much more difficult to achieve success than the Internet will lead you to believe. Basically it’s a trend. You have to be very careful about the moisture in the straw (they get soaked and can rot plant roots). My recommendation would be to use have either raised beds made or have someone make something like this Veg Trug. I bought this exact one for my mother last year from Lee Valley and she grew a HUGE amount of vegetables in it. Best of all there’s no bending at all and to replenish the soil you just add a bag or two of compost every spring. That is my advice. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Tina says:

        Thanks Karen! That’s the sort of input I was wanting. As I said, I have a huge area and was sort of looking for an inexpensive way to fill it. I contemplated grass but I don’t want to mow. I’d like to do raised beds but could use an artist’s eye to decide how I want them. I’d be annoyed if I did all this with the bales and produced nothing so I’ll take a step back to look at raised beds. Thanks for your input!

        • Karen says:

          Sorry … I also wanted to mention that the straw contains little to no nutrients in it for your growing vegetables so you’d have to be extremely diligent about watering them with either compost tea or some sort of chemical fertilizer like Miracle Gro (which is actually a great product). ~ karen!

        • Paula says:

          I tried straw bale gardening for two years…no success here either and I grow a lot of veggies!

        • Mary W says:

          I grew potatoes – LOTS of them under straw. The difference I believe is hot Florida rains ALL the time. I just laid the potato pieces on the organically fertilized soil and put “flakes” of hay on top (which is the amount you get when you pry a piece off a square bale). These were in long rows down the garden. Then forget them. No watering (FL), no weeding, and I could lift the flake, get a nice clean potato off the ground easily and lay the flake back. One problem was snakes – they loved the protection and the mice that decided it was a really warm place to live. I did it only two years for that reason.

        • kelly in weed says:

          i’m having the same type problems
          territorial seeds has a mini clover that i’m thinking of getting
          throwing it around will be beautiful and green,
          won’t need mowing and when i’m ready to make a garden in that
          area, it can be turned into the ground and is great nutritiousness
          ( think i just made up that word..i’ve been reading karen’s blog too much)

      • Diane amick says:

        Have to agree on straw bale gardening. I tried it last year to supplement my 5 raised garden beds. Pathetic is the word. Karen’s right…you must water water water those bales…MUCH more than the rest of the garden, and fertilize. Won’t ever do that again. Will use what’s left of the straw to mulch my raised beds this year and call it a failed attempt.

    • Sarah says:

      Have you seen “keyhole” gardens, Tina? They have a hidden section for composting with a raised bed surrounding…plus, they aren’t too large to reach across.

  4. Auntiepatch says:

    The last two years my potted tomatoes yielded no fruit. Then at Halloween I discovered a volunteer plant in an empty pot and now it’s covered with tomato blooms. Go figure.

    • Mary W says:

      LOL. I had tons of volunteer cherry tomatoes covering our old hog pen, once the hogs were all safely tucked into the freezer. I couldn’t grow them in a pot, I guess they preferred a pig.

  5. Paula says:

    I would like to know how many people that read this post did NOT click the link to find out about the photo!

  6. Erika says:

    You’re just the best, Karen. Love your blog. ?

  7. Melissa says:

    Loved the Garry/Barry story to pieces (no pun intended)!

    We just bought a farm and are building a farmhouse and I am about 4 weeks away from thinking about thinking about starting a garden (I mean, I’ve drawn a picture of what I want, so, that’s a start.. right??)

    SO, any help would be greatly appreciated and wildly amusing. Will wait with baited breath for your class.

    p.s. I’m still laughing hysterically about your tumble photo and your bent finger, to pieces!

  8. Amanda says:

    Remember though that not all your readers are in America. Spring your side means autumn my side of the world

    • Karen says:

      I know, but I am Amanda, lol. So when it comes to gardening and starting seedlings etc. I have to do things when I’m actually doing them in order to demonstrate them. Which means any gardening courses I do have to take place in North American spring/summer. 🙂 ~ karen!

  9. But but the seasons will be all wrong… I love reading about your ideas, though and I hope lots of people do the course. If there’s a local gardening group, that’s also a great option, I joined a Facebook one a while ago. Not only is there always someone who knows what that plant or bug is, it’s a real sanity saver in these crazy times, because it’s a totally politics free zone.

  10. Mary W says:

    Karen I love gardening and learning about it but don’t garden anymore. I take art classes but not gardening ones. So, while I love reading about and learning from you and adore seeing your pictures, I’m not so keen on taking a class. You even got me to try a few veggies and fruit trees last year. I had them all tucked nicely between my flowers and bushes. A newly planted and flowered out peach tree was making me so happy – for the first 3 days, then the deer ate everything. I’m back to dried weeds and relying on your posts for my garden fix. Sorry. I still have the gorgeous glass corn seeds I bought from a year ago post you had on heritage corn. They are still tucked into the package and making me feel horrible for not releasing their potential. DEER!

  11. Gayle M says:

    Reminds meof the story about Greg (because everyone he’s introduced to calls him that instead of Craig). He was on a ladder at the far end of the house clearing the winter gunk out of the gutters when he lost his balance. Just as I, his loving wifey, came around the corner of the garage on the opposite side of the house, I watched as if in slow motion he fell backward off the ladder, landed on his back in the foundation shrubbery. Quick thinker that he is, he immediately and in a single movement rolled away from me out of the shrub and popped up onto his feet like a jack in the box, and in a panic, started checking out the neighborhood to see if anyone was watching this comedy act…turning, turning, and then he saw his audience! Me, rolling about in laughter. Nope, never gonna live THAT one down. LOL

  12. Ev Wilcox says:

    Your timing is amazing. Just a few days ago my spouse asked if I like the raised bed idea. We did it years ago and it would be great to not have to bend over. This ole’ back hates that part of gardening. Seriously thinking of doing the bed thing this year. My not so wonderful neighbors cut down a beautiful tree last fall, and now we have more light close to the house. (I would rather have the tree, though.) Our garden area is now waaaay back in the yard. It would be nice to have it closer up. Hmmmm, we’ll see. Oh-and the photo-I still remember the story!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ev! There’s a bit of a misconception about raised beds. The beds are really only raised several inches off of the ground. Not several feet. So there is still bending. 🙂 Just 10″ or so less of it. ~ karen!

  13. Katie C. says:

    Ahhh!! I filled out the form, but I hit Submit before I realized where I was supposed to type in my email address…

  14. Joanne says:

    I’m interested, but kind of half-heartedly…. I’ve grown veggies in the past, but don’t really ever enjoy eating them. THAT is the problem. So I answered yes to your survey, but my biggest impediment is my brain, and convincing it that the veg I grow is appetizing and tasty (as opposed to the veg I don’t buy, which I know is not tasty or appetizing).

    Maybe your first class could be how to make veg more appealing, and ways to cook them – for the veg-a-phobics amongst us.

    • Karen says:

      Well, that’s more of a cooking class than a gardening isn’t it, lol. That’s the number 1 rule in vegetable gardening by the way. Grow things you like to eat. 🙂 ~ karen!

  15. Heather says:

    I last grew a garden 15 years ago and it was a weedy disaster! I actually just bought some seeds that were on special when I was out shopping yesterday in an attempt to try it again this spring. My children are older and can help some but mostly it will be me. Since I don’t have to watch them constantly I think I may be able to get a better handle on things. I’m not quite sure the approach I will take to keeping the weeds down….grass clippings maybe….I don’t know I was going to do some more research. I’d love to hear your tips!

  16. Karin says:

    Don’t stress about the writing. You’ve got to be doing to be able to write about it! Plus one of my all time favorite, side splitting entries was your ‘ I’m number two!’ post about the blog contest. I still grin about it and it was barely a few sentences 🙂

  17. Jamie says:

    I would also love to take your “How to Blog” course if you ever felt the need/want to do that one again.

  18. Judy Persson says:

    I missed that too. I’m retiring soon and gardening is how I want to spend every waking hour…..and chicken keeping too. Please add me to your list of ‘expert’ gardener wannabes.

  19. Anda says:

    I would love some coaching about vegetable/fruit gardening but since I am a beginner gardener I have to be careful not to bite off more than I can chew. So I thought I’d start with one thing at a time. With that in mind, after reading your May 2016 post about strawberries I decided to grow Charlotte strawberries this year. As you mentioned in the post they are hard to come by but they sounded so enticing I was determined so…. I ordered them from the Quebec distributor. Only one problem – their minimum order was 100 plants! Yikes! I certainly don’t need, can’t handle that many strawberries plants….so if anyone in the GTA could use some….
    Will any of your courses cover planting, maintaining and harvesting strawberries? PLEASE?
    (I will be making freezer jam with my crop.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anda. You’ll love the Charlottes. I probably won’t be covering that specific topic but all you need to know about them is in my post on planting strawberries from last summer. ~ karen!

  20. Meg says:

    I started growing my own seedlings last year with mixed results…had to purchase most of my seedlings from a garden center but was able to plant a few that I grew myself. I would love advice on growing seedlings indoors, including timing when to start growing a variety of different types of vegetables.


  21. kelly in weed says:

    no, i do not want to take some geeky online course even from you.
    i’d rather drive up there. help you out ( you obviously need someone
    to keep you from falling down the steps) learn some cool shit and
    then go home….oh and i’m dragging you home with me. you could
    fill an entire blog with the stuff that needs doing here.

  22. SouB says:

    Totally off topic, saw this comp (nothing to do with me) and thought of you.

    At the very least you get to see Idris Elba looking straight at you asking if you want to be his Valentine (you anyone who’s watching not you in particular I’m afraid).

    • Karen says:

      Oh Idris. He’s so cute pretending like he’s going on a Valentine’s date. We’ve had plans to watch Love Actually on DVD for months now. ~ karen!

  23. Missnicoleo says:

    Ok creepy. I was just wishing you could help me plan my garden while I was out there on Saturday. I even considered emailing you, but chickened out.

  24. Brandy says:

    Oh Karen, Karen Karen….is a bomb diffuser along the lines as an oil diffuser?

    I laughed so hard at that

  25. Jaclyn says:

    How about container gardening tips? This wanna-be gardener is limited to balcony planters. There’s lots out there, but some of it is crazy (and why did I ever believe I could grow beets in a railing planter?), or for someone who has hours and hours to spend with their pots. I would love to grow some more veg this summer, but don’t want to water a pot of beets only to come up with 3 measly beets smaller than the nail on my pinky finger!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jaclyn. You ABSOLUTELY can grow beets in railing planter. As long as you have soil that’s deep enough for beets you can. 🙂 I’m not sure what went wrong for you but my guess would be either a) not enough light b) not enough water or c) not enough fertilizer. You can’t reuse potting soil from year to year. After one year whatever plant was in there before will have sucked every bit of nutrients out of it. You can really grow almost anything in a container on a balcony! Carrots, onions, beets, tomatoes … anything. 🙂 As long as you have the right conditions. ~ karen!

  26. Lisa says:

    I love Miracle Grow! Discovered it years ago and it keeps everything going. I don’t know how you can help me keep bush turkeys out of the garden….herbs in pots is about as far as I can go as most of my garden is in shade (but in our hot weather the trees are staying) and…..bush turkeys (oh yeah possums too – who love to eat everything). If you can suggest something that grows in about 1/2 a days sun I’ll try it. But…bush turkeys. Love the pj’s too.

  27. Sabrina says:

    Excited about this as a possibility. We just bought a house end of last summer and I’ve always wanted a vegetable garden. We threw some seeds into the beds that were already placed and me and my kids had so much fun seeing what grew. I have been reading about square foot gardening and companion planting and like the idea and the order of the techniques. But I would love an online course for the basics.

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