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Thursday, March 10, 2011

A growing passion – by Kandy Shepherd

Any one else get a kick from growing your own fruit and vegetables? In the Meryl Streep movie It’s Complicated. I lusted for her character’s perfect French style potager vegetable garden (even more than I wanted her beautiful Santa Barbara house and amazing bakery).

My own veggie plot (that's it below the dream one) is a lot
more humble—but plans for an It’s Complicated garden are engraved on the “one day when I have more time” list.

In the meantime we g
et an ample supply of tomatoes, peas, beans, eggplant, zucchini
(and zucchini and zucchini), sweetcorn and herbs, even though they are grown in a more haphazard—and dare I say less complicated—fashion than the movie one. Lettuce is something I haven’t been so lucky with this year.

When someone (and I’m glaring here at my daughter) let her horse Toby into the garden he made a beeline for the lettuces. Lucky I adore him and can’t stay cranky for long… Oh, and he does help with the fertilizer!

I was fortunate to inherit with the garden marvelous old fruit trees: apples, pears, sour cherries, peaches and an ancient gnarled plum. But it’s a battle between us and the birds to join in the harvest! I’m prepared to share, why can’t they?


My interests tend to sneak into the books I write. Food and animals are very much part of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. The book I am working on now also has heroine who likes to cook, and that dream vegetable garden has somehow found its way into the plot. Funny, that…

Do you have a green thumb—or the other kind? Please leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS and include your email address if you want to be in the draw.




42 comments:

desere_steenberg said...

Great post thank you for sharing ! I ll admit I don't have a green thumb all though I have always wanted to give it a try your post has inspired me to do just that so thank !

And thank you for the chance to win !
Please enter me for the draw

desere_steenberg@yahoo.com

Annie West said...

Hi Kandy,

I'm envious of your vege patch! Where we live now we don't have a good place for one. The yard seems to be either far too baking hot in summer, or too shadowed by trees - no nice medium. We used to grow a lot, including horseradish, garlic and lots of herbs which were wonderful.

I grew up with lots of old fruit trees (once lived on what had been an old orchard turned into a garden) and to this day nothing is as good as home made plum jam for me. I love the summer months when the tomatoes and cucumbers grow while you watch them.

Commisserations about the horse causing trouble. My old pony had lived with a greengrocers' family and loved veges. As a result we always had pumpkin vines popping up everywhere as he'd spit out the seeds (no kidding) then add a bit of manure and next thing we knew - new vines!

Don't enter me in the draw as I've read your latest. As you know I loved it - a real treat for anyone who likes a bit of wit with their feel good romance.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi desere, thanks for being my first visitor today!
When I was a kid I grew up in a gardening mad family and totally rebelled against it. But once I got my own home as an adult, the gardening bug bit! I hope it does for you too!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Annie, I LOVE your story of your horse both planting and fertilizing pumpkins for you. Talk about a horse earning his keep!

Thanks for your kind words about HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS.

It's nice to see the cover for your latest wonderful romance PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE right next to this blog! Nothing like having good neighbours...

Alison said...

I LOVE the idea of gardening, I really do - it;s just I never get round to doing it. In our last house we actually had a gardener come because my husband didn't enjoy it and I didn't have time, but must make a better try of it now we've moved!

colobus14@gmail.com

parv said...

At risk of contradicting the guest blogger LOL, I think your vegie garden looks better than the movie one. Yours looks abundant, green and real. Movie ones are always too perfect, set up by a plant wrangler no doubt. Love the horse stories too, especially the self-fertilizing pumpkins. Do they eat them as well? Not many pets grow their own food.

Kandy Shepherd said...

How true, Alison, gardening is darn hard work! Good exercise though and very satisfying. I hope you find a renewed interest in the garden in your new house. (Though a gardener does sound kinda appealing for some of the grunt work!)

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Oh, Kandy, I'm envious of your garden too! It's been so long since we has a potager garden--10 years! We grew peas, tomatoes and broccoli amidst lavender and lemon trees. Now we have a concrete garden in the inner city. :( But once our reno is done, we'll be tackling the backyard. Can't wait!

Kylie Griffin said...

Kandy, I love vegie gardening too. I have a very modest king sized bed patch out in the back yard. A no-dig - they're the only way to go for time-pressed single women who moonlight as a writer/teacher/jack of all things.

And I had a giggle at your zucchini's reference - don't turn your back on them or let one rainy day go by without checking them, eh? I ended up with a few submarine sized ones last season. Lucky I love eating them - in stir fries, steamed, stuffed...

My apple trees were attacked this season - the wet over summer meant an explosion of bugs who happened to like red delicious and granny smiths. Sigh. Didn't have to worry about the king parrots!

Must get some new mulch and think about what I'm putting in for winter.

ev said...

I'm a farm girl, so even here in the city I have a garden, although it is a raised one. I can't bend and stoop like I used to. I do pretty good with tomatoes and pie pumpkins (which were our main crop). I've basically given our apple tree over to the squirrels and one of our dogs- who insists that every apple is hers and don't try and take one!

I wish spring would get here!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thank you, Valerie, for your kind comments on my veggie patch. It is the real deal, helped along by my chickens and horses and some hard digging by my DH.
However I do wish it was a bit neater and one day I will plant fewer plants further apart so they are not so close together come harvest time!
Sadly, you are right about the It's Complicated garden. Searching for the picture, I came across an article where its "secrets" were revealed--and yes, some "plant wrangling" was involved and the garden equivalent of Hollywood tape and lots of makeup!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Vanessa, your garden planted among lavender and lemon trees sounds divine. Sounds like a smaller version might be on your "after renovation" timeline!

For years I didn't have a garden and had to manage with pots on balconies and even windowsills.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hail Kylie, fellow veggie gardener and Berkley author!

I had to laugh at your reference to your submarine sized zucchini--it's amazing how they lurk under those huge leaves growing and growing almost as if they have been inflated. My chickens appreciate the big ones as they love the seeds they develop at that size...

I had the same problem as you with my apple trees this year--all that rain after the long drought and it made for worse fruit rather than better. The apples that did survive the bugs were attacked by a succession of voracious but beautiful birds.

Thanks for the reminder--"down under" it's time to be planting.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Ev, there's nothing like the taste of a home grown tomato, is there? I planted some of the "heirloom" varieties this year and they are wonderful, but most of mine are seedlings that just come up by themselves from last year's fallen fruit and do just fine.

I'm thinking of re-doing my garden as a raised one, seems like a great idea.

I had to laugh at your dog claiming all the apples for herself!

desere_steenberg said...

Thanks Kandy !

Kaelee said...

I'm looking at three feet of snow on our garden patch right now and dreaming of vine ripened tomatoes. We grow a variety of colors in our tomato plants ~ red, yellow, orange, black , white, green and striped. We live in Calgary, Canada and our growing season is very short so we buy fairly large plants and plant them in the garden by the back of our house. Even though we buy the plants it's not a designed garden. We give small baskets of cherry tomatoes to all the neighbors. It's so much fun watching people reactions to the fresh taste of just picked tomatoes. We try to give away zucchini as well. We usually end up freezing a lot of it in tomato sauce and it's marvelous in the dead of winter on pasta.

I love books with food and animals in them.

kaeleetwo@shaw.ca

Mary said...

I definitely do not have a green thumb, my brother got all those genes. lol At least that what I tell him.

miztik_rose@yahoo.com

Lil said...

My green thumb tends towards houseplants and I have been horrible with the ones outdoors. Well, I should say that my vegetable plot has consistently been taken over by weeds. However, if one wishes for a crop of dandelions, I am successful.

traveler said...

Your garden is delightful. I have always wanted to grow veggies since a neighbor has this wonderful ability which I admire. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Johanna R Jochum said...

Your garden sounds awesome! I would love for you to post pics and the fruits of your labor! I have a black thumb I can't grow anything without killing it. My hubbie on the other hand is a excellent gardener. We have a huge vegegtable garden every year. We plant corn, peas, green beans, differnt kinds of squashes, jalepenos, onions, carrots, pumpkins, cucumbers, spinich, brocoli, cauliflower,and tomatoes. We also grow rosemary, raspberries, lavender and have several apple trees and cherry trees. We enjoy canning and pickling a lot of vegies! The sad thing is though the last few years we have had wet and cloudy summers with not a lot of sun so that makes for hard gardening. We also had a problem with rats too coming and eating our carrots. They come cause they are attracted to the grain we give our chickens. We are hoping for better weather this spring and summer. Thanks for sharing with us today!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Kandy! Like Annie, I envy your vegie patch - horses and all. My brother had a vegie garden at one stage when we lived on the farm and I still remember how much better everything tasted when it was just picked compared to what you buy in the shops. Sadly, I have a brown thumb. So brown, I'd say it's BLACK!!!! Luckily the house where I live now is full of fairly indestructible things like philodendrons. I don't think atomic war would kill a philodendron!

runner10 said...

My husband has the green thumb. He has a really nice garden. I have recently started canning vegetables. I have surprised myself.

Estella said...

I love to garden. Both flowers and vegetables.

Have only a small vegetable plot, but am able to can green beans, beets, etc.

Estella said...

forgot my email

kissinoak at frontier dot com

petite said...

There is something gratifying and satisfying to grow your own produce and then have the pleasure of enjoying it. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

Nas Dean said...

Love your books with food and pets. It's always something different which catches the eye!

Leni said...

I discovered that I'm good with houseplants and now love to watch them grow.

lenikaye@yahoo.com

ev said...

You can take leftover tomatoes and plant them in the ground and they do come up.So much easier sometimes but our growing season isn't always long enough for a lot of them, but I do leave the ones that pop up!

P.I. Barrington said...

I live on a ranch type property in a rural area of SoCali and my mother was amazing with her veggie garden! She raised 2-3 foot long zucchini and her vine cherry tomatoes were incomparable so I know how wonderful gardens are!! I'm more of a flower gardener but have been given lots and lots of veggie seeds so maybe later this spring I'll try it, and let you know, lol!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Kaelee, your tomatoes sound awesome, I just love those differently coloured ones and they taste sooo good! I agree that part of the fun of a veggie garden is being able to share the bounty with neighbours and friends.

Yet no matter how much zucchini we share, there is still more left than we can eat. I'm going to follow your tip on freezing some zucchini and tomato sauce. I sometimes freeze zucchini soup which is also nice in winter.

Kandy Shepherd said...

I definitely think green thumbs are inherited, Mary. When I get together with my cousins at Christmas we all seem to be sharing gardening tips and hints and swapping jams and preserves--even the younger generations.
But as is the way with inherited traits, some us get more of the gene than others! (The math gene, for example, completely passed me by.)

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Lil, I believe dandelions make very nice salad so your garden could be considered a great success!

I'm not so lucky with houseplants though I do my best; outdoor plants probably rely more on nature than me to survive!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Johanna, thanks for your kind words about my garden. It is beautiful and I thank the gardeners before me who established most of it.
Your fruit and vegetable gardens sound amazing. You must be pretty well self sufficient which is a marvelous place to be.
The harvest is so dependent on the weather though isn't it? We got lots of rain last year after drought but a very cold winter (for our parts anyway!) and spasmodic summer made for a pretty disastrous fruit season.
We just plant for fun, I feel so sad for farmers when they endure the climactic ups and downs we all seem to be getting this year, no matter in which part of the world we live.
Thanks for your encouragement to post more on my garden!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Annie, how can you say you have a black thumb when you grow roses in your unfriendly-to-roses climate! I reckon there's a tinge of green under there somewhere...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey runner 10, great to hear you have a husband with a green thumb--but it sounds like you reign supreme in the kitchen!
I felt very nervous venturing into the world of canning and preserving a few years ago. My first jam was a bit of a disaster (over-cooked, I was so frightened of it not setting) but, like you, I've surprised myself.
I have no doubt there's a food preserving gene there somewhere, passed down the line from our female ancestors who had to be good at it to survive!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Petite, I absolutely agree! There's nothing quite like it.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey Nas, so nice to see you here. So glad you like the food and pets elements in my books...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Well done, Leni,I think being able keep houseplants alive and thriving is a skill to be proud of. (I have a rather hit-and-miss track record with houseplants...)

Kandy Shepherd said...

Ev, yes the self-sowing doesn't work so well when the frost hits them at our place too.

But, darn it, my husband thought the self-sown peas were weeds and pulled them out. They would have happily survived the winter and given me a head start. Sigh!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Go for it P.I -- I bet that green thumb gene will work as well on vegetables as it does on flowers! I'd love to hear how you go...

Pat Cochran said...

Our one attempt at a garden was
such a failure that I've not tried
again. I should have known better,
I have the world's worst black
thumb when it comes to trying to
grow anything!

Pat Cochran
p-cochran@juno.com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments, it's so nice to hear these snippets about your gardening lives!
The winner of the copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is Kaelee.
Kaelee, please get in touch with me at
kandy@kandyshepherd.com

so I can get your copy to you.