The Summer of Not Gardening

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that my spouse and I have been doing a vegetable garden since we bought a house in 2012. In this climate, that means working the soil and sowing seeds in late April or early May, a mad scramble to buy and plant seedlings at the end of May or into June depending on the tenderness of the plant, and weeding and watering and harvesting up to the end of September or early October.

Turns out that’s a lot of work.

I was excited to finally have a house where I could garden, and I dragged my spouse into being excited too. But…problems abounded. We had too big a garden for our time and energy levels; there were hungry squirrels in the area who like to take one bite out of each ripe tomato; and the killer–an infestation of weeds that spread by underground roots and could never be completely eradicated.

So this summer, we covered over the vegetable bed with landscape fabric and mulch, and let it lie fallow for a year while (we hope) suppressing the weeds to some extent.

We thought we would buy some potted vegetables. We bought rosemary, which got used a little, and one cherry tomato plant, which was sickly all summer and produced very few tomatoes–just enough to keep the squirrels fed. One day I was out on our back deck, writing, and a squirrel picked the only ripe tomato and sat there in front of me and ate it. Like, seriously, dude?

We thought we would throw our gardening energies into our flower beds. Instead we ended up enlisting a local gardening company to help us plant a bed of perennials. They look great, and it was a relief not to do all the work ourselves. Time passed and we never did get around to planting annuals.

We thought we would make great use of having our summer weekends back. And I guess we did… There are festivals we could have been going to, far-flung city parks and trails we could have explored, many other walkable neighbourhoods to enjoy. But turns out that what we want to do with our weekends when the weather is beautiful is to stick close to home, go for walks in the local ravine, cook delicious meals for the week in our slow-cooker, go out for brunch and/or a writing session at our favourite establishments in the neighbourhood, and enjoy just relaxing in our backyard for a change.

Will we grow vegetables again next year? Probably. We plan to keep the mulch in place and plant around it, to reduce the immense amount of weeding that we’ve done in years past. We’ll be more judicious about our choice of vegetables and plant just the ones that are both easy and rewarding. And we’ll plant less overall.

At least that’s the plan. We’ll see if it survives contact with reality, AKA the garden store next spring…


  1. oh man, the garden store…for me that’s one department of the home improvement store, and I want something from every aisle (more than one thing in the power tools aisle) and also I want to not be broke and…

    This home-ownership thing is definitely a THING.

  2. It is indeed a THING. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve been to the home improvement store (yes, that includes the garden department for us too) in the last five years…good thing neither of us has a handy bone in our body, or that number would’ve doubled!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *