Why I Broke Up with Gardening

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Casey Barber)

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And I’m through with garden insanity. After seven years of frustrating attempts to grow more than a salad’s worth of anything in our yard, I’m officially throwing in the towel.

It’s my own fault, really. Blinded by my utopian suburban farm dreams, I never stopped to consider the fact that our yard is not primed for vegetable gardening. The bare patch where I impulsively built our raised bed is basically the most inconvenient spot for water access. Nor does it get enough full sun — even in the height of summer — to grow anything more than leafy greens and herbs. And guess who loves leafy greens? The groundhog living under our shed, who more than once has hoisted his chunky butt into the two-foot-high bed to mow down lettuce at its peak.

When I think of the money I invested into our ramshackle operation — soil, lumber, fertilizer, stakes, seedlings, seeds — and the sweat equity involved in growing what amounts to one cup of peas (yep, a single measly meal’s worth of peas) and the runtiest carrots in all the land, the ROI just doesn’t pan out.

(Image credit: Casey Barber)

We have a farmstand less than one mile from our house that grows its own greens, sells its own eggs and honey, and brings in local produce each week to supplement its own bounty. (They also do a CSA, which is a great option for veg-minded folks who aren’t tied to the vagaries of recipe development like I am.) I would much rather support our local farmers, who do a much better job of growing vegetables than I could ever manage in my yard, than keep wasting money on my own efforts.

So instead of weeding and coddling my pathetically stunted plants while waiting for the annual haul of six peppers, I’m breaking down the raised beds and xeriscaping the whole shebang. I’m sure the groundhog will be disappointed not to have kale at his disposal this year, but them’s the breaks.

Have you ever broken up with a garden? Did you ever get back together again?