Garden Inspiration. Real Gardens

A couple of weeks ago I showed you my community garden and yesterday I showed you my front yard vegetable garden.  But today I have for you, your gardens.

There won’t be a lot of writing with this post because it’s Friday and I really don’t feel like working, as most people feel on a Friday. I keep wandering outside to look at the Mouse Melons and the tomatoes in the front yard.  I sweep a little, then swing on the porch but none of it is enjoyable because I know I have to come back in the house and finish my work. In fact, I’ve just spent the last 15 minutes staring at my screen, writing a sentence, then deleting it because it was so bad and boring. Then stare outside my office window and do it all over again. So yeah. This is the boring sentence that won. And yes. The other sentences were even more bad and boring.

So back to these vegetable gardens of ours and what one of them has done to me.  One reader who sent in a photo sent in a picture of her garden in France.  The south of France.  Not the super-cool Provence type of area, but an actual rural area of France where I imagine things are still beautiful but not quite as quaint all the time.  The kind of place I’d like to live.  The kind of place I imagine a lot of us would like to live.

For a couple of years now I’ve been thinking about how great it would be to live in France for a year.  A month isn’t long enough, that’s just a vacation. And 6 months … well it isn’t really living there if you don’t experience all the seasons and holidays.  I even went so far to look up house exchanges on the Internet a few months ago.  My main goal would be to learn to speak French fluidly. I wouldn’t speak a single word of English the minute my flight touched French earth.  Unless I needed a Diet Coke and no one could understand me.  Then I would speak English in the hopes someone would understand.  So you know, like, a dire situation.

I pretty much brushed off the idea of moving myself and my blog to France because I have family here and chickens and cats and I know the layout of my grocery store so that I can get in and out with everything I need within seconds.  Then Lindy sent me a photo of her in her garden in France and I got all flustered the way only something French can fluster you.  So now that whole moving to France thought is in my head again.

I doubt I’ll do it.  I don’t like change.  On the other hand, I’ll probably do it because I love baguettes.

Please enjoy all the gardens, French and otherwise and thanks to everyone who took the time to send their photos (with a one sentence explanation of it)  in.


Hi Karen – Minus the famous rhubarb, as well as a few other random things, all our veggies are in the driveway – otherwise they would be stealing precious flower real estate….I have recent photos on my computer, showing the massive growth change, but haven’t written the post yet….this is still technically one sentence, right? ~ Asshat Mindy


Mindy’s driveway garden.

Driveway Veggies 61815 (31)-1


Hi Karen,

I’m growing different vegetables in simple sacks and containers in the back of our house.
Beet root, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes and more. And roses, of course!
It works very well and i dont’t have to cope with much slugs or other unwelcome animals.

Cheers Karin from Germany

Karin’s garden in Germany




New garden prepared last summer, lasagna style soil building, planted this spring, combo of annuals and perennials exploding this summer!  Grey County – Zone 4B.

Tina – aka Sideroad40

(thx for the Cubits suggestion – several plantings here from their seeds)


Tina’s garden in Grey County, Ontario, Canada.




Hi Karen,
I just love your blog! You are a woman after my own heart.
I just read your “tips and tricks for the garden” and you requested to email photos of gardens we are proud of.
I am extremely proud of my garden this year, not because I am new to gardening but because when I bought my house in 2011, the previous seller did not disclose there was a major flooding and drainage issue with my yard and the neighborhood. It took me 4 years going through the process of having a drain put in with the county. (I am making this sound simple but it has been a nightmare). 
Anyway, I have not been able to have a garden under 3 feet of water, or during construction, lol.

Thank you for who you are and what you do in the world to make it a better place for the rest of us! Jillian


Jillian’s flooded yard in Michigan (I think)




Jillian’s fixed yard and most excellent (and dry) vegetable garden.




Hi Karen!  

Here is my little slice of heaven.  :)

(Photo taken on 4th of July.. Explains the flags.)

Take Good Care,

Ania’s patriotic garden in New Jersey.




My little salad garden consists of green peas (first time growing them, yay!), green onions, volunteer tomatoes (3 kinds), purslane (nutritious weed), and whatever else decides to come up. I planted some herb seeds so it’ll be a surprise! ~ Kim


Kim’s salad garden in Milwaukee




Karen – i thought I’d share my broccoli harvest. Gardening newbie.  ~ kim

Kim’s broccoli harvest from somewhere people with giant hands live.


Hi Karen,Three months ago, my 15-year-old nephew and I lit an old horse exercise ring on fire–more than three years worth of dried weeds burst into flame in a matter of minutes. Now, the 2,500 square feet of formerly scorched earth is our new round vegetable garden. I’m still getting the hang of gardening in the round as opposed to rows and rectangle beds. The garden definitely a work in progress (it’s only year one), but it is a garden that I’m proud of. ~ Julia
Julia’s flaming ring of fire in Ontario.
My first harvest of peas EVER! This is about a cup, I’ve eaten half of them raw. Lots still left on the vines.
Kim’s pea harvest.



Gail’s very different pee harvest …

Karen – You know urine to gardening when you build an outhouse proximal to the garden in order to collect urine in a bucket, from donors with no active infections or medications, to add to the compost – this lends a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘harvesting the pees’! ~ Mother Hen

Gail’s green (and yellow) garden.






(Before you poo poo the pee pee, wanna learn more about peeing in your compost?

An in progress labor of love in Montana! ~ Kimberly

Kimberly’s shockingly beautiful garden.


Hey Karen

So glad you are posting action shots of the garden at last. Cabbage moth are the bane of my existence.

Like you I’m the world’s greatest recycler and scrounger; all my vegetable beds are lined with chestnut logs and the structures to help peas to climb and stop flopping are a chestnut grid. Home-made but very efficient.

Best wishes

Lindy’s garden in Southern France.



  1. Melody says:

    So, here’s the thing. There is no Diet Coke in France. Seriously. It’s all Coke Light (so not the same thing) and Coke Zero (even more not the same thing). Thought I’d tell you before you spend any more time on this . . .

  2. Notice how few (zero) pictures of gardens from Texas? There’s a reason for that. We Texans live on dirt and cow.

    Seriously, though, if you want to see a typical Texas backyard garden, rough up a patch of clay, plant some dead stuff to save time (I hear Morticia Adams has a shitload..born Texan right there), water profusely, tend, love, kiss, sing to it, and watch it wither away and die.

    I do have basil though, so tonight’s menu will include a dirt and basil salad and cow..tasty, tasty cow.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Well as long as you have a balanced diet. If you really want to kick it up, maybe fancy things up one night and try eating some good compost with your cow. ~ karen!

  3. Kim from Montana says:

    Karen, thanks so much for posting the picture of my garden. According to my friends I am now “internet famous”. My amazing husband worked for many months amid first surprised me with the green house and then the amazing garden. He excavated 15 feet down then brought in new fill dirt to terrace the area and get it out do the wind that regularly blows 20 mph in the summer and 60 mph in the winter! Love your blog so much and so does my 15 year old son. He thinks you are hysterical.

  4. Cindy G. says:

    As Mindy said, it was nice to see some of the gardens that were tucked into smaller spaces- especially between houses! I live in a city neighborhood that has houses fairly close together and there’s also a huge maple tree in front of my house that shades most of the front yard. My back yard is mostly uphill and what isn’t has been shaded by the trees growing on the hill. I do have a small patch of yard that gets sunlight all day, so now I’m starting to think about how to arrange some containers. We do have pretty aggressive squirrels, so I’m not sure how to keep the veggies from being sampled. I’ve been tempted to turn my enclosed porch into a greenhouse (on one end) of sorts- opening the windows, but keeping them covered with some sort of screen that would let pollinating bees in, but keep hungry birds and squirrels out. And then, I can use the sunny part of the yard for flowers- the best of both worlds!

    Thanks for always inspiring me (but dis-inspiring me with chickens… that flies in the butt information was just too much ick to deal with :) )!

  5. Karin says:

    Wow, this post is a great inspiration to give it a real go next year. We bought our house last year, nothing happend. This year I threw some potatoes inna bucket and lined my front yard with tomatoes. Meh, it’s not much to look at. But oh the ideas in this post. Just awesome. Thanks everyone for sharing.

    A shout out to Karin in Germany. I’m a Karin from Germany too. Life took me to Maine ten years ago, I love it but miss the olde home country.

  6. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Beautiful gardens ladies…

  7. Katek says:

    Was fun to tour through all these gardens! Don’t know if you are familiar with the blog . She is an American woman living in France (with her French husband). She is funny, writes well and has amazing photos and stories of all things French. I vicariously enjoy France through her eyes. She also has ALS and is and I say this last because she is so much more.

  8. barbee says:

    So…I don’t know who Kim is, that’s actually my broccoli bounty & giant hand. Perhaps you changed the name to protect me from public humiliation?

  9. j says:

    Hi Karen—As usual you inspire, cause admiration, and are a hoot! I look forward to my Monday, Wednesday and Friday Karen ‘fix’, and I read your older posts like I am preparing for an exam! Your ‘commenteers’ are usually well worth reading, [‘cept for the ones who spout questions off w/o reading the blog or don’t read their own comment to see if they s any sense before hitting post comment!]

    Can you tell me about experience you have with lasagna planting or opinions about same? Can you refer me? I think my interest extends beyond the wonderful name,,,,This year I did root some-well, three-sweet potatoes and the leaves are so pretty, next year I hope to get them into the ground early enough to at least hope for home grown sweet potatoes, and I plan on providing the leaves with some wrought iron to crawl up with a secondary gain of vertical gardening. [ Also thanks for the education about life in Canada. Before your blog I thought of Canada as Hockey, Historical, with a huge portion of tolerance for the folks on the southern side of your border. You know, nice to everyone. Now I know sometimes chickens get judged harshly. If my neighbors got chickens and a rooster I would be thrilled, especially if they let it be known that I could buy fresh eggs!] Have a great weekend and keep on blogging!

  10. Kelly says:

    I went to Lindy’s site to see her French garden, and I will move to France with you. Loved her post on advice for your front yard garden. She called you “coy.” I love the atmosphere of connection and encouragement you cultivate with those of us who love your blog. Thanks for a great read here and link to France. I definitely think you should take a year abroad and blog about it!

  11. nancee says:

    Thank you Karen! Loved the tour of real gardens that aren’t fancy & professionally maintained. These are real gardens, each showing the gardener’s personality; gardens that regular folks have had to fight for.
    Inspiring and human.

  12. maarilyn says:

    I say go to France too! Admire folks who can make that kind of dream a reality. And as others have said, we get to travel with you. You are a breath of fresh air Karen!

  13. Maria (was MD Maryland, now Margaret Merland on FB) says:

    Just saw this in FB feed – hope it helps those of you having these issues with Kale, broccoli, etc:
    Gardening tip: Plant dill amongst the kale and cabbages. It attracts predatory wasps and other beneficials that will predate any cabbage worms and keep your plants healthier. Dill also confuses the cabbage butterflies so they don’t lay as many eggs on the leaves. Win-win.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Maria! However it doesn’t work, lol. In fact (and there will be those who absolutely refute this) .. there’s no scientific to almost any companion planting being helpful to any crops. I had dill all throughout my garden (just by chance) and the cabbage moths didn’t go anywhere near it. There is one recent scientific study out of Australia that confirms the benefits of a specific type of green in getting rid of cabbage moths. They’re highly attracted to it, yet it’s poisonous. Those sorts of things are called kill crops. I’m experimenting with it this summer and will report on the results next year once I see for myself how it works. :) ~ karen!

      • Maria (was MD Maryland, now Margaret Merland on FB) says:

        Can’t wait to hear about your experiment then :) – for when I start container gardening – again. Last summer I got 5 zucchini, but a ton of Sun Gold tomatoes (cherry tomato size). Sweet. This year I got a different kind of pear shaped golden tomato. Disaster. Have only gotten 4, yes count them, 1,2,3,4, tomatoes. So, I’m taking notes :). Thank you all.

      • Karen says:

        It is a cherry sized tomato? Then it’s probably Fargo Yellow Pear. Which tastes like a regular tomato as opposed to a regular sweet cherry tomato. Normally Fargo Yellow Pear is ridiculous prolific! ~ karen

      • Julie says:

        Agreed. I have dill everywhere. They named it dill weed for a reason. And I also had cabbage moths in my dinosaur kale. Not a lot. But they were still there.

  14. Luanne says:

    Wonderful! I especially like what Kim in Milwaukee is doing with her peas. Provided I remember, I’ll give that a try next year.

    • Kim from Milwaukee says:

      Thank you Luanne! I was told they wouldn’t grow in Milwaukee….HA! I also fertilize with liquid gold, in case anyone wondered. It’s the most complete fertilizer there is, and it’s free.

      • Luanne says:

        Peas?? Wouldn’t grow in Milwaukee?? They must have been drunk. Peas grow anywhere! Even in Winnipeg!

      • Kim from Milwaukee says:

        That’s good to know…in case I decide it’s too warm in Milwaukee and move to Canada. :)

      • Luanne says:

        Ok. I can’t resist. Milwaukee weather at the moment: 83ºf. Winnipeg weather at the moment: 93ºf. (I will remain silent in January, though.)

      • Kim from Milwaukee says:

        Ooooo I feel for ya, that’s way too hot!!! My phone is showing 92 degrees right now here though….supposed to be this hot all weekend. I prefer Newfoundland weather to this.

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