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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. sledwell says:

    Nice photos. My link has details of growing in containers on my rooftop in Toronto, the sunniest spot on our property!

  7. Dan says:

    “My main goal would be to learn to speak French fluidly.”

    I *think* you meant fluently, but I’m a guy so I won’t pretend to read minds and assume I know what you intended. BUT, before you think I’m going all grammar-police, I like what you wrote better. When you listen to some of our fluent politicians speak French, they sound like a robot (sadly, another couple of months of hearing that everywhere). Speaking fluidly, with the words dripping off your tongue, is a MUCH better turn of phrase. Chapeau!

    • Karen says:

      Funny story Dan. I did mean fluently when I was writing the post and as I proof read it decided I liked fluidly better. :) ~ karen

  8. Melissa in NC says:

    I enjoyed seeing everyone’s gardens! I can’t get the vision of your huge rhubarb plant out of my head. It was a monster! Oh, to order a Diet Coke in France just say Coke Light!

  9. Erin says:

    Beautiful gardens everyone. Thanks for sharing .

  10. Mary W says:

    We pee’d in our back yard for a couple years and gave beers to visiting guys that would pee in the back yard in exchange. It was to keep the deer away from all the newly planted shrubs and trees. It did work – for a while and until most of the stuff had gotten big enough to absorb leaf eating hoards of really cute deer. But the hoards grew and we got neighbors and the pee had to go. So, now I photograph cute deer twins playing under the trampoline and the fun games the little bucks play when just growing into their antlers and the informative way Momma deer has of passing along to her offspring which plants are best to eat. (I never knew they loved orange leaves!) Not only is pee a good detractor, it comes in my favorite color. I wish black were my favorite, since down here in HOT and HUMID Florida, mildew is everywhere in August. My garden now consists of 5 stalks of yellow, blue, pink, white, and orange silk flowers in a variety of types. Whichever goes on sale at Walmart gets poked in the weed covered (deer don’t care for weeds) sand plot of ground outside my front door. Luckily I live in a suite behind my daughters house or she would pull them out. I can’t’ believe after all my years of loving to garden I have been reduced to this but it works for me at my age and body condition. The gardens are all beautiful – they are alive and green and probably smell really nice after a rain. I wouldn’t know anymore but live happily and vicariously through Karens blog so am very thankful for my laptop!

  11. Thanks for including my ring of fire, Karen. Seeing everyone’s gardens–including yours–is super inspiring.

  12. Heather says:

    I speak French – I could be your interpreter! And I could use a year in France. :)

  13. danni says:

    I’m mad now I didn’t send mine, I want to show off too! As a widow of over a decade I have a “you just do whatever the hell you want in your yard and don’t care about resale value, mom” backyard garden. :D It’s freaking awesome! Tri-plex raised bed, jungle gym green bean run, vertical multi form beds. Along with a cob oven named Ida.
    …..yes, maybe I need to find a boy toy instead.

    • Jenifer says:

      It’s not too late. I would love to see a garden that inspires that kind of feedback. Please, please!

      And I think I really need to see a jungle gym green bean run… Really, I do!

      I’ve had a tough week, please take pity and post a pic. :)

      • danni says:

        I sent some, is there a special address to send them too? Hope you got! I bet you swoon over the rusty gate I saved from the scrap heap!

    • Karen says:

      And maybe I need to name my cob oven! When did you build yours danni??~ karen

      • danni says:

        Last summer, along with a counter and storage area. She was just so… plump and round and jolly looking and gave me delicious things to eat… how could I not name her after my Nana?

  14. Jen says:

    You definitely need to move to France so I can look at the pictures. Just saying. It’s not really about you, it’s about the readers. Haha.

  15. Sherry in Alaska says:

    Here’s an Irish woman who blogs about her vegie/herb/flower garden/fruit trees and home/lifestyle.. permaculture. Sort of an Irish incarnation of you. And you will love her garden (if you don’t already know about it).

  16. Hazel says:

    I think France may get very full after looking at Lindy’s garden… I’ve visited the Ardeche and I love it there.

    It was good to see Tina’s garden the year after lasagne mulching. We moved house earlier this year and both house and garden had been very neglected. There’s been a lot to do to make the house habitable, so I’ve only grown a few tomatoes and courgettes in pots and straw bales. The plan is mass-mulching and then next year will be the year of the garden!

  17. MissChris from Sunny South Africa says:

    I have always wanted to live in sunny SA for 6 months of the year and then move to Europe for our winter – I am not a winter person. France has always been one of the countries I would have loved to do that in – but alas it will have to stay a dream!

    My vegetable garden lay dormant the whole winter – a combination of laziness and the cold!!

    I am so glad I found your blog – really enjoy it!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks MissChris! I actually love winter, but as I get older I find I need to be outside more and more (because I love it) and winter makes that harder. I do love a roaring fire though! ~ karen

  18. Kathy Hartzell says:

    Of course pee is valuable….I should have known this but duhhhhh, and I am a sanitation agency commissioner, how dumb could I have been!!! So now I have to make my wire fence solid….will block the neighbor’s perpetually covered truck, cars on the road, and let us pee in the compost without shocking the neighbors and folks walking to the beach!!!

  19. Gillian says:

    Lindy’s garden makes me want to move to France too!

    Of course I intend to live in a Tiny Moving House as soon as I can figure out how to have an income and not be stuck in one place…..

  20. Lindy says:

    Aw shucks. Thank you so much Karen. You ARE coming to France. Something will give you the push, you just don’t know what it is yet.

    Loved Gail’s garden! Wacky ideas there. And there’s nowt wrong with urine harvesting. You just have to think of it as recycled beer.

    • Phyllis Kraemer says:

      I’ll push her Lindy…..and I’ll even carry her luggage…all the way there! Not sure France would be ready for both of us at the same time…but…??

  21. Mindy says:

    The larger veggie gardens are the things dreams are made of. BUT, I think it’s so fantastic that many of the photos are of containers crammed in where they’ll fit. I love that. Grow where you can. Which, by the way, I finally got that updated Driveway Veggie post written, although, it’s nearly a month into being obsolete.
    Second by the way….I laughed out loud at the giant hand. My husband certainly thinks I’m insane, lying in bed, laughing at blog posts while he watches baseball. And to answer a long ago question, no, he’s not black. :)
    While we’re on the subject of plants, can I brag about my Brug? AKA, Angel’s Trumpet….
    Yes to France. Always yes to France.

  22. markus says:

    Restless, but usually you find a trail.
    What’s on your mind dear?

  23. Ev Wilcox says:

    I don’t know if your girls could cackle in French! And they would have to lat ouefs or something like that.
    Stay home! Thanks for the pretty gardens. Not going to wee on any compost, though!

  24. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Not that it’s any of my business or anything, but I think you should take that giant step to France. And we, your many virtual friends, could tag along, virtually of course.

  25. Anne says:

    Re: Your Kale worms. Have you tried Marigolds interspersed with the Kale plants. Works with tomato worms. Haven’t had even one tomato worm in the last two years.

    • Karen says:

      I wish Anne, but no. These are insanely prolific. Cabbage moths lay eggs on any and all things like cabbage, kale, broccoli … and then the eggs hatch into caterpillars and they don’t leave their host plant until they pupate into moths. The only sure fire way to avoid them entirely is row covers. Which aren’t nearly as attractive as marigolds. ~ karen1

      • Erin says:

        The main reason I didn’t send in a pic – white row cover everywhere! At least it’s doing the trick. Are there cabbage moths in France? Maybe you should go and do some research for us. :)

      • Carla says:

        When I was a kid we took our badminton racquets to swipe at the flying moths. They are so delicate they just disintegrate. Creepy, but effective.

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