Basil, and confessions of a crappy gardener


So my dreams of living a crunchy sustainable life may be a bit, well, shall we say far fetched?

At least, with the gardening aspect.

"I just toss seeds in the ground and they grow!" report far too many of my friends…..

Well, do you suppose they might come toss the seeds in at my place? I could use some help.

I suck at gardening. (that is a bad word in our house, by the way)

I can grow rosemary. I can grow tomatoes. I can grow basil.

Mountains of basil.

lap full of basil

A very small amount of carrots and lettuce made their way to our plates last winter…… but for the amount I put in the ground….. not much makes it to the table. I'm not whining here, just being completely honest at my inability to feed my people from the family garden. I can't grow dark leafy greens or beets no matter how I try.

I can't even grow zucchini. (I hear you gasping!)

This fall I was so ready to toss in the towel….

Until that husband of mine, in the gentlest way he could, said this to me:

"So you're just gonna give up?"

"Ha" I scoffed. "Give up, uhm, of course not."

And with a very grumbled spirit I spent the weekend working the beds…. adding manure…. piles of our own homemade compost…. 

5 garden beds and several large pots later I had a little hope as I planted some seeds…. some seedlings….. 

Nothing like a sore back and dirty fingernails to ground your soul and give you hope.

As I tended to the beds this weekend I cut back a HUGE armful of basil. My big girl followed me around the garden snapping photos as I trimmed…. 


pesto to be

pesto ice cubes

      pesto ice cubes


After several batches of homemade lemon pesto were made to freeze and save for the winter I gently reminded my stubborn heart to not give up…. to keep on keeping on. And somehow this week with those thoughts in my mind I stumbled upon this quote….


"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are"

~Theodore Roosevelt

 Sometimes, I think the universe just has perfect timing……


~~all the garden photos were taken by my Jade girl~~


20 thoughts on “Basil, and confessions of a crappy gardener

  1. Oh I have friends who have those super green thumbs, but I too struggle with the proper soil amendments and nitrogen balances, etc. that apparently make a good gardener. That is some good looking basil, and a little pesto is a good enough success for any garden :). Enjoy


  2. Yeah, I’m not exactly feeding my family from what’s growing from our family garden, for sure! But I just try to tell myself that it’s the path we travel that counts, not how far down the path we are, you know. Sometimes I place the blame on our lack of a permanent homestead. Sometimes I just accept the fact that I live an imperfect version of my ideal life. Have fun and don’t be so hard on yourself! This year’s garden is going to rock! 🙂


  3. it is so variable, isn’t it?! i could never grow rosemary to save my life until i moved here (it grows itself). and this year the beets are huge. no zukes. my husband asked the ‘master gardener’ tent at the farmer’s market last weekend, and it was such a relief to hear that they also had trouble with squash this year. it wasn’t just us – it was just the weather!


  4. Your basil looks so wonderful. I had a really bad gardening season this year. Do you think it might be the 100 degree weather for 90 days that was the culprit? Love seeing you in the photos. Your girl did a great job of taking the photos.


  5. I’m a rookie gardener living in rural Italy and surrounded by farmers who have been gardening to feed their families for decades! And guess what? Even THEY have bad years and things don’t work out. Gardening is a continuous journey, and every season is so different 🙂 And by the way, not everyone can grow the kind of basil I see in your photos, it looks fantastic!


  6. You can do it, look at you with that huge bundle of basil!!! Check out Ruth Stout. They used to have a wonderful Youtube video of her, but they have recently taken it down. She was a cooky old bird!!! I think that you might like this link: I can’t paste the link so just go to and type in Ruth Stout and its the article called the No dig dutchess. I hope that you enjoy it, I would have loved to have met her!


  7. If it grows at your place like it does at mine, all you gotta do is water it! And if you let some of it go to seed it will reseed itself and you won’t need to buy more….. I LOVE basil….. so yummy!


  8. Oh good, all those soil amendments and ph levels make my brain hurt too! I had the poor feed store lady laughing nearly to tears when I was telling her I had no idea what I was doing! She was very helpful and encouraged me to come back any time I needed more help. I am hoping there is a learning curve…. perhaps I’ll slowly figure out one or two plants a year and by the time my husband retires from this job and we settle down on some property I’ll be able to have a real kitchen garden 😉


  9. Imperfect version, yes, that is where I am at too! But my inner buddha (thankfully) always seems to remind that I am where I need to be. And while the dream homestead may be years in the future…. learning to garden is a wonderful skill to learn while I dream and wait 🙂


  10. Ha ha, my rosemary grows itself too…. I need to figure out how to propagate a branch to split it up…. the funny thing is that I bought those organic “living kitchen herbs” at the produce section in the grocery store…. and THAT is where my now huge rosemary plant came from! Thanks for the kind words, and here’s hoping to tons of zucchini in our futures 😉


  11. Yes, I think southern gardening is very challenging! Jade did do a good job with her picture taking. Sometimes she drives me crazy following me around with a camera and often taking a hundred photos…. but she always captures things in such a different way, and I love that 🙂 Are you planning a fall garden? or does it get too cold where you are at? We’ve just planted lettuce, beets, squash, kale, chard, broccoli, peas and cabbages!


  12. Thank you Martha! It feels good to have some fellow rookies out there! Truth be told there aren’t many people growing food around here… so it’s hard to figure stuff out. But I won’t give up! Someday you & I will both be the ones with plates full of garden food and hopefully we’ll be encouraging new gardeners as well 🙂


  13. Oi the garden… I love and hate it all in one! {lol} And that photo… well, it’s a true capturing of my Sunday unshowered been working in the garden for hours self…. and my girl begged me to put in the blog… it’s funny how easy it becomes to type the words in your heart and push “publish”. And yet adding a face to go with the words is a whole different thing!


  14. Awwww shucks. Thanks. I drool while looking at your garden photos! And I won’t give up until I have a pan full of roasted beets that I grew on my very own….. I could write an Ode to winter vegetable I love them so much 🙂


  15. Definitely going to read about her…. I love cooky old folks… so fun. {think Julia Childs, I mean, she was the greatest!} And if our someday farm is in the midwest, I will so miss that basil! It’s not so happy up there in the north! Then again, I having been reading about hoophouses…..hmmmm…. lovely farm dreams always in my mind 😉


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