Book + Book Giveaway with A Way to Garden’s Margaret Roach

If memory serves (the older I get, the less accurately it does), I met Margaret Roach online three years back, when she emailed me to introduce herself and her (then) new blog, A Way to Garden. Of course, I recognized her at once as the garden editor of Martha Stewart Living magazines (and later editorial director of several departments). Like many gardeners, I rarely took a second glance at the magazine, but was often compelled to pick up the spring special gardening editions through Margaret’s years as its editor.

I have to admit that I was initially surprised to hear from her and even more surprised by how charming, warm, funny, intelligent, sincere, corny, and down to earth she is. Why I was surprised at all is the result of poor judgement and a ridiculous class-based bias on my part. If you have ever read Margaret’s first book, “A Way to Garden” then you will already know these things about her. She won me over utterly and completely from the very start. So much about our lives (and gardening lives) is vastly different, and yet we have an awful lot in common.

Probably the most surprising thing I learned about Margaret and the detail that still tickles me most is that she is a 100%, all-around badass. Oh yes, perhaps not the best word — and I hope she doesn’t stop speaking to me over this– but even now, a few years and several meandering emails later, when I think of Margaret, “rebellious” is the first word that comes to mind. It takes a lot of guts to leave a high paying, uber “successful” career, and move out to the country alone to pursue a personal passion. Margaret doesn’t pander, follow the rules, or march to anyone else’s beat. Not anymore. She made a radical life change, is continuing to live it, and has chronicled the very personal details of the first year of this experience in her recently published “drop-out memoir”, “And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road.” I won’t give anything away, but the story is a compelling and revealing one. Margaret doesn’t hold back on the difficult parts or steep it in an unrealistically saccharine glaze. She tells it with her whole heart including a cast of unexpected characters (Jack the demon cat and the frog boys to name a few), beautiful prose, and a lot of that corny humour that makes her so especially charming.

Margaret and I recently decided to interview each other and offer our respective books up as a giveaway on our sites. The following is my interview with Margaret. You can read her interview with me on her website. Below that are instructions for entering to win one of four sets of books.

Thanks Margaret!

  1. How long have you been gardening?

    Though I was exposed to gardening from toddlerhood by my maternal grandmother, Marion (whose name for me is synonymous with zinnias, standard chrysanthemums trained to a single bloom on tall stems, wisteria pergolas and floral arranging of the garden-club-lady version), gardening requires terra firma, or at least a spot for pots.

    I went to college in Manhattan—lived there from age 17 onward, and never had my own “outdoor space” until I was about 30, except one stretch when I moved home to help my widowed mother, who was just about to turn 50, but was declining with early onset Alzheimer’s. I cut down the overgrown foundation plantings of my childhood home and started over, armed with a couple of books and no knowledge otherwise. My first “plant combinations” were things like Kniphofia with Sempervirens (torch lily or red hot poker with hen’s and chicks), planted on a checkerboard grid of every other one–get the image? Oy!). I was probably 25 years old, and the “occupational therapy” aspect of gardening in that rough patch of my life stuck. I starting seeking a piece of land of my own—the place I now live.

  2. Did you learn from someone in particular? If not, how?

    I was already working in newspapers at the time when I got my first place, this place, and though I couldn’t get the garden-writer job for myself (I was not knowledgeable enough, but very enthusiastic), I volunteered to answer the reader questions for a weekend column at Newsday newspaper as a freebie add-on to my job there to prove myself. I eventually got the real position when Anne Raver, my predecessor there, left for “The New York Times.”

    I signed up for classes at New York Botanical Garden, went to nonstop lectures, and also “studied” by interviewing experts for the column each week, which I did like a reporter would with any unfamiliar subject: through research and interviews. What a gift, the chance to call up (or go visit) masters of so many disciplines, from a leading rosarian, to the head of a big organic vegetable gardening group, to the fancy-leaf begonia curator at the botanical garden. And, of course, I read.

  3. How many gardens have you made so far?

    I don’t think you could count the dabblings like my hideous checkerboard of red hot pokers and hens and chicks, or the occasional pots and so on here and there at city rental places I had during my working years, so I suppose this place is it: one.

  4. Do you grow indoor plants as well?

    I always have, much longer than I have gardened outdoors, and my oldest “houseplant,” a Clivia, has been with me since my parents’ home (it’s now many large pots, not just one). I think of “houseplants” as true 365-day plants, and have a good number of fancy-leaf begonias and bromeliads, as well as various weird caudiciform things like Bombax with big, swollen bases, that can store up enough water and other sustenance for a long dormancy each year. The clivias, begonias and bromeliads are an important part of the spring-through-fall outdoor garden, used as “annuals” in the semi-shaded area near the house. So do some other tropicals or sub-tropicals that are too big for the house proper, and sleep every offseason in the basement—cordylines and phormiums and a brugmansia and so on.

  5. Any projects or other posts you’d like to share with my readers that sort of introduce you best?

    Maybe these:

I love this windowsill display of old gourds and dried snake skins.

  1. Do you think of yourself as having a “specialty,” something you know most about, love the most, etc.?

    I don’t really, unless you consider either my woo-woo slant, approaching gardening as spiritual practice, or maybe my love of foliage to be specialties.

    The one tangible thing that seems to carry though all my horticultural pursuits is that I am drawn to leaves more than flowers, whether for their finish (matte, shiny, whatever) or texture or scale or color.
    Hmmm…I just thought of something else that’s sort of defining, or a bit of a “specialty” or at least a slant I take on things:

    I have a very “Why is that true?” mentality. I am always wanting to know the science behind things that seem curious, like the way certain plants (species peonies, some bleeding hearts, twinleaf or Jeffersonia, blue cohosh or Caulophyllum…) push out of the ground in shades of purple or pinkish or other non-green colors each spring instead of having green leaves early on. (I looked it up: It’s probably a co-evolution strategy to say “I’m not green, don’t eat me!” to hungry awakening herbivores, and also a “Come hither and pollinate!” cry to awakening insects, who respond to the more flower-like colorations.) So I guess I love and try to dig deeper into the spiritual, visual and scientific aspects of gardening all at once.

  2. What do you think is the greatest misconception about you?

    I am always surprised when people come to a book event or workshop or garden tour and meet me and then say afterward, as they often do, “Wow, you are so funny and so regular,” as if I would have been some stiff or a fancy-pants. I think that is a remnant of my Martha Stewart years, the assumption that I would be more formal and my life quite grand, just because we made such beautiful magazines with aspirational images in them. Sometimes it actually hurts my feelings that people presume I’d be inaccessible or standoffish – or especially that I’d be fancy. Just ask the postmaster at my tiny post office about the getups I show up in down there when I come for my mail, or catch a glimpse of me after twice-weekly bouts of pushing the mower around here for a few hours each time. [As mentioned above, I made the same, very wrong wrong wrong-headed mistake. – Gayla]

Just one of Margaret’s trash-to-treasure recycled, rusty metal gates.

  1. What would you count as your biggest gardening successes?

    I suppose it’s that I have stayed put for 25 years to get to see that the spots where I placed those first beds and borders all those years ago–when I hardly knew anything at all, really–were good choices. Instinct is so critical in gardening; it’s not intellect but getting the feel of a place, watching where the light passes when, and where the best vantage points are on the different seasons and times of day.
    I unconsciously sited my garden beds in prime view of spots where I look out from inside—my favorite wintertime chair, out the kitchen window where I cook a lot, and so on.

    Most real gardeners I know don’t sit outside and observe their handiwork–when they’re outside, they’re working. Maybe they sit on a deck and see that spot as a visitor would, but the rest they see only when working in it, so it’s the vista from inside that makes a home garden hold together visually. A selfish approach, but true (unless you’re making a public garden). I guess I knew how to look out a window to good effect right from the start.

    And I was always a patient person. That’s the other critical skill in gardening; everything takes a long time, so if you’re in a hurry, you will hate this gardening life.

    Maybe one more thing: I always loathed chemicals—even the smell of that aisle in the garden center was revolting, long before I understood the dangers. So choosing to opt out of using them all these years, based on my nose alone, has yielded my biggest success: My garden entertains 50ish kinds of birds each year, every species of frog and toad possible in the region, snakes and salamanders and you name it galore. Life is good.

  2. Any failures you care to confess to? Is there a plant that just eludes you one way or another, that is your undoing?

    I can’t do passable lawn repairs or successfully reseed an area that gets beat up somehow and needs a fresh start. I don’t know if the birds always eat the seeds, or I don’t water enough while waiting for germination, or tamp it down well enough or what, but I just always end up with spotty results at best. Pitiful, huh? I suppose I hate lawn, and therefore haven’t mastered it, yet I rely on it as a low-care groundcover connecting all my beds, so I’d like to be better at the tuneups it sometimes requires. My “lawn,” which I don’t feed or anything, is a mix of whatever grassy things were here on this former farmland when I arrived, plus various weeds, not fancy turfgrass. But still, when voles chew up a large area in a prominent spots, I’d like to be better at fixing it!

    Most of my other failures are from underestimating pests. For instance, I need to pin down, using earth staples, lightweight row cover over various crops right when I sow; I can’t even let the seedlings emerge or they will be imperiled some years by this or that. So though I have a deer fence, I have to remember that everyone from a flea beetle to the tiniest caterpillar to rabbits, woodchucks and chipmunks are out to get me, tee hee.

  3. Do you ever “hit the wall” with gardening, and want to throw in the trowel?

    I am frequently overwhelmed, almost to the state of paralysis, especially in spring. There are two moments then: right at the start, when it’s time for the cleanup and you think “How will I ever get this mess together?” and then again after the first bloom cycle passes and so many things need attention again, just about now here.

    It’s like a double-whammy of spring cleanup, the original one, and the repairs once thousands of lilac flowerheads and daffodils and perennial geraniums and so on all go by and need deadheading or shearing.
    Now, with a 25-year-old garden plus being self-employed and on a tighter budget, I am overwhelmed in a new way. So, so many things need to be divided yet again; 13 shrubs finally met their maker this year (too big for the space they were in, or victims of one too many winter storms and beyond rejuvenation, etc.). It’s almost like starting over at this life stage in a garden.

    This year to offset my sense of impending freakout, I’m trying something new: mowing 45 minutes a day (instead of three- or four-hour stints twice a week), and I’m trying to break other tasks up into chunks to make them seem doable. Sort of devising rotations of to-do’s to fool myself.
    One thing about mowing: You see instant results. So when I am really feeling daunted, I mow and then admire the progress right in front of my eyes, and that spurs me on to tackle some other 45-minute thing or other.

Margaret’s potato bed.

Quick One Word Questions:

  1. Favorite edible plant? One word? I’ve been a vegetarian for 30-plus years and put up or store a lot of my food, so this is impossible, but…potato!
  2. Favorite non-edible? Astilboides tabularis.
  3. Gardening: hobby, art, job, political act? For me it’s a spiritual practice, a moving meditation.
  4. Favorite season? Maybe fall? (I love winter, too, odds that seems.)
  5. Favorite plant fragrance? Aromatic stuff like wormwood or peppermint geranium, or other can’t-help-but-touch-those-leaves-when-I-pass-by things.
  6. Favorite gardening film or garden in a film?The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” is what comes to mind. Thanks for the reminder; I will watch it again.


How to Win 1 of 4 Sets of Books

MARGARET AND I HAVE FOUR SETS of our latest books to give away: Margaret’s memoir, “And I Shall Have Some Peace There,” about moving to her garden away from the city rat race and my urban edibles instructional, “Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces.” To enter, you have to comment here AND on Margaret’s blog, answering the question, “Do you ever hit the wall in gardening?” just as she and I answered it in our twin interviews here and on her site.

Remember: You double your chances to win by entering on both blogs — just copy and paste the same comment both places, below and at A Way to Garden.

And one more thing: If you’re feeling shy, and just want to say “Count me in” or “I want to win,” that’s OK; we will honor your entry anyhow. We understand.

Four winners, two from each site, will be chosen at random using random dot org’s tool after entries close at midnight Tuesday, June 7. Good luck to all!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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379 thoughts on “Book + Book Giveaway with A Way to Garden’s Margaret Roach

  1. I went from container gardening to outdoor beds over the last couple of years, and I moved from an apartment to a house. I installed the beds I have last year and spent many an evening looking at that “gardening wall” wanting to stop the pests from eating holes in my kale and who took my ONLY zucchini? But I continue, because I know it is worth it.

  2. Yes, difinitely. Especially in spring; I never can seem to get started early enough and quickly become overwhelmed.
    Thanks for the opportunity!

  3. No, I never hit the wall gardening. When your day job is the drain on your life, the gardening is the revitaizer.

  4. Ugh, I hit the gardening wall every year–right about when I start seeing other gardens bursting at the seams with veggies and beautiful flowers. Mine always seems to pale in comparison. Then, of course, I snap out of it and get right back out there to work on my farmer’s tan some more.

  5. I think every time I have ever bought a plant, I hit the wall. I have never been the most successful at keeping plants alive but so far this year, I’m doing well.

  6. I am so, so new to gardening so I can’t say I’ve hit any walls yet. I get so excited about it I can’t sleep at night sometimes, and I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed to go play in the dirt before work…spring and summer in the South is starting to feel like Christmas every day! I sure hope I don’t hit that proverbial wall anytime soon :(

  7. A couple of years ago I discovered the online gardening community. I started a gardening blog, followed gardening tweeps on twitter and revitalized my gardening interest. Although I’m glad when winter comes and I can turn to other interests for six months.

  8. I confess that I hit gardening walls regularly. My latest “aha” moment was when I realized that if I weeded for just a few minutes a day, it would be… well, not quite so horrifying. I blogged about it for Patch, and I’ll post a link when it gets approved for public viewing.

    I really enjoy your blog, Gayla, and I’m looking forward to getting to know Margaret Roach. Thanks for sharing your words (and your books)!

  9. This is serendipity – i just started reading Margaret’s blog yesterday! I haven’t hit a wall in gardening yet because I haven’t started — ok, I have two seedlings (cilantro and basil) in pots outside but I’m truly GREEN at being a GREEN thumb. i’m also at a place in my life where i need the wisdom of “and i shall have some peace there” i have a new house, my first potential garden and i’m coming down from almost 8 years as a professional actor. i’m ready for a quieter life and peace outdoors.

  10. my yard is pretty small, and i’ve only in the past five years or so been in one location long enough to plant anything, but i get pretty overwhelmed when, every year, half (or, in some cases, all) of my seeds and seedlings get dug up by the raccoons that live in the tree in my backyard. seriously, what do they have against radishes and lettuce?? its discouraging when i can’t figure out why something doesn’t work in the garden, but it is so unbelievably rewarding when it does, and i think that’s part of what brings me back every year with grander and grander hopes and expectations! thanks!

  11. As a fifty something baby boomer, I am always looking for “peace” in my garden away from the rat race. I admire Margaret for taking the leap to a simplier lifestyle and a different career path. Someday, I am going to find “peace there”

  12. Ever hit the wall? Well, funny you should ask… I felt like I hit it last night. This is my first season in a new yard (I know you can relate, Gayla!) and I just might have over-committed. There’s something about that perfect storm of a late spring with too much rain that makes weeds suddenly appear monstrous and disaster imminent throughout the entire space. I stood, muddy and hot, covered in muck and sweat and filth, with dozens of seedlings needing to be planting, beds overflowing with creeping charlie and running grass, soaking lawn that couldn’t be mowed… blach! But, I picked up my clay-clodded trowel, put my head down, and did the best I could. It’s all you can do! And this morning, I caught a whiff of blooming Iris and nodding heads of a tree peony and thought – it just might all be worth it.

  13. I haven’t had time to hit a wall yet–this is the first year I’ve had any space to grow things in years, and I’m ecstatic!

  14. Here in the Pacific Northwest my tiny wall comes after two full weeks of heavy rain destroying the blooms on my once beautiful lilacs and azaleas. I get over it pretty quickly once the roses start to pop.

  15. I hit the wall when our 5 plum trees all rippen at the same time. I know I should use every single plum. Then I feel guilty that I can’t keep up. other than that I never hit the wall, I could garden the whole day. I think the neighbors think I am on drugs..:-)

  16. I hit the wall gardening every fall when the ragweed starts blooming and I have to really limit my time outdoors – so frustrating! I rely on others to help with the harvesting.

  17. I hit the wall in late July, just before the tomato plants start really producing. If I can push through that time, the tomatoes make it all worth it!

  18. Yes! I always want to do too much at once and then end up getting overwhelmed and frustrated when I can’t get it all done. I set myself up for failure year after year – but I just get so excited in the spring! I have recently learned that I need to calm down, take a breath and make a few reasonable goals for the year that I can without a doubt accomplish.

  19. yup, sure do. Just hit another one. The wall I hit is when my husband tells me we are moving again. Argh! sure thought we would be here this time for sure for many years and now after living in this house for not even a year yet we are moving again. This time just to another state not another continent so I guess there is progress ;). Meanwhile I do learn someting new each and everytime and at every location. From the hot and humid desert in Saudi, the hot and dry desert of Texas to the cold 4 seasons of Germany. Something new to be learned each and every time.

  20. I’m only just starting to get started on a balcony garden, in my first apartment, and my trouble is not so much hitting a wall as getting up to speed in the first place. It doesn’t help that I work night shift- any night gardeners out there?

  21. In late August I don’t so much as hit the wall, but I’m usually so busy…right at the time when the garden needs more water, or things are ready to harvest. So, I always end up feeling like I worked so hard all summer & then mess it up at the end…I need to start rescheduling those vacations:)

  22. I hit the wall on our community garden when others leave me alone, we’re a few and we can only container garden, then they come back with new ideas and new plants. Italy is not a country for young people, struggling through underpaid jobs and continuing to believe in community work is hard, but then you see the bounty and forget everything else :)

  23. I just found your site and your garden is just beautiful. I live in high desert and the only green is what I grow in my small garden. Gardening will scarce water is a real challenge, but the beautiful tomatoes and squash We have makes it all worth it. I would love to have these wonderful books.

  24. I hit that wall mid-summer as well, when the tomatoes and squash begin to sprawl, breaking trellises faster than I can pinch, prune, stake, and tie! (Watering-wise, not so much though! The lasagna gardening methods are fantastic for dry hot summers.)

  25. I am a complete beginner other than indoor plants and a few pots outside. I would love to learn!!

  26. I feel like I hit a wall when I first discovered how little space I actually had to garden with. But then I decided to do some research on how to maximize a small plot of land, and I’ve found that I’ve opened up whole new avenues of creative gardening. So excited for the future of my garden!!

  27. Is it possible to NOT hit a wall? I certainly hope so!

    Two other times in my adult life, I attempted to vegetable garden – I hit early walls both times (first -being newly pregnant and very, very sick, second – attempting it the very next year with a very busy toddler)

    I just turned 50 this year. Spent the whole winter planning my garden and I am enjoying every minute of it so far – even with the 13 plus inches of rain in April !!!

    Happy Gardening

  28. I hit the wall here in Central Texas every year around the end of July, start of August. By then it has not only been hot, but hot for long enough that the plants are suffering and I think to myself “why am I putting all of us through this? I should just let it all die until it cools off again”.

    Then (in a good year) we will get a few overcast days and better than that, some real RAIN and the plants will look so good again for a while that I think to myself “OK – let’s just keep this up for a few weeks more…”.

  29. This is my first year ever doing a full-out garden. There have been several times when I thought I had “hit the wall” – when a certain project turned out to be 4X the expense I anticipated, when my carefully started seedlings failed to thrive, when planting was impossible due to a straight week of rain…but somehow I pushed through, and am now excited to watch the garden explode!!

  30. I hit the wall once I started having kids! I’m hoping to get back into it once they are old enough to get out there with me, though.

  31. I hit the wall when I realized I had planted more trees than shrubs/perennials in my yard and they all grew up. Count me in. Thanks.

  32. I have to admit that I hit a bit of a wall right around the end of May and beginning of June, when all of the huge greenhouse grown veggies start showing up at our farmer’s market. My starts are so puny by comparison that it kills me! Luckily, I’m powering through, and hoping mine catch up.

  33. I hit the wall when I came home from a week-long vacation to discover that my freshly dug garden, which I had attempted to amend with winter compost, had sprouted up a million tiny tomato, dill, squash and lemon balm seedlings–not to mention crabgrass.The ghosts of garden refuse past. I really did know better than to start a bed in that fashion but I just couldn’t wait another season to start one properly. Lesson learned for the next time the urge strikes!

  34. Moving from England to GA I have had to relearn a lot of different things, especially what I can and can’t grow over here. GA clay has proved to be a real challange and I am starting to plant a lot more in containers. This year I am giving beets, carrots and sweet potato a go in Ikea bags that I had laying around. This web site has given me so many new ideas to try. Thank you!

  35. Hit the wall in gardening? yes, but you just get up, dust yourself off and start again. This year I’ve hit the wall, because I’ve just had knee surgery and I can’t do what I usually do. But I’ve had to find ways to compensate and carry on. I also hit the wall with that dang red lily beetles this year, and finally dug the plants out. Can’t give them the time I always did to pick and squish so I eliminated instead. And now I get to find other plants to put in that space instead. I’d love to be a winner of the books. I’ve got lots more time to read this gardening season. :)

  36. I live on the West coast so the weather here along the coast (about 3 miles from the ocean) is pretty decent most of the time. So I really can’t say that I hit the wall due to weather – but mostly due to lack of time. I guess when the weather is beautiful, I just try to fit as many projects in as I can. I do most of my major gardening on the weekends. During the week I will garden early in the morning or late in the evening after I return home from my “day job”. I really find being in the garden relaxing. If I have a rough day, I go to my garden and prune, water, look at the plants, etc. I think I would be lost without a garden!

    Thank you both for sharing your love of gardening with us.

  37. My wall is always somewhere in the third week of 100 plus heat and never ending wind that drys everything out. It’s all I can do to drag myself out in the heat to water. I always have the thought, “forget it!!! If it survives, I’ll water it again when it’s cooler.” But, I plod on because I know there are too many good things out there to let them go. I know the power of mulch. I love straw too!

  38. I am so thankful Margaret shared your blog with us I am so excited to read your blog! I love gardening and August is difficult. I also design gardens and try not to install in August. And while i do this cool planned gardens for others…….mine is totally hodgepodge because i am always finding homes for new or orphan plants : ) Wishing you cool breezes and unexpected summer rain!!!

  39. Do you ever hit the wall in gardening?

    Yes! When I plant things and only the weeds grow. The wall tumbles down when I spend a little time and get it all back together.

  40. I hit the wall today…..coughing, weeping, choking and drippy nose from the pollen! Please rain…..

  41. I hit the wall last summer with the heat!!. I have a dug well at my house that I put a sump pump in to water my gardens because my deep well has SALT water. Yes salt water in Slingerlands NY. The dug well ran dry half way through the summer and I had to use the sump pump in my pond along with 200 ft of hose. Hopefully not again this year because I added a new garden!!

  42. Ever year we hit a giant WALL of weeds around this time of year, after the spring rain ends. Our garden is our whole yard and we have never been able to totally weed it. We took out ever blade of grass and turned our yard into a organic flower garden, habitat for birds and animals, organic vegetable garden. The weeds are pretender’s and look a-likes. EVer year they over take a few of our lovely flowers and plants, but we just keep going. And our biggest question is always , is this a weed or a plant ?????? Zone 7 in Maryland
    Elaine Happy gardening !!!!

  43. I hit the wall all the time. I’ve just recently hit the wall trying to figure out The Plan for my front yard. I have a blank slate and it is overwhelming.

  44. Does hitting the gardening FINANCIAL wall count? That certainly happened to me this year! I’m fairly new to gardening (and head over heels in love), so I haven’t yet hit a wall gardening yet, but I suspect I may hit the “watering wall” sometime this summer…I have a lot of veggies and herbs in pots. ;)

  45. I hit the wall in August, about the time the tomatoes are in full abundance and I’m trying to preserve my garden produce and enjoy my ornamental gardens. My container gardens are usually lush, but I start to get tired of constantly watering. Deep down, I long for the day when I can take them to the great compost pile in the sky and take a breather.

  46. I kind of hit-the-wall at my parent’s garden. They’re getting older and simply can’t keep up with the garden anymore. Now that I live in another town, I can’t help them with weeding and planting either, so the garden has become pretty pathetic these days. Every year they continue to request that I grow some tomato plants for their garden, and every year I do…but the plants always look sad and weak (because they’re basically growing in a sandbox) and get eaten by groundhogs. I’ve thrown in the towel with their garden, but at least I have my own to tend to!

  47. i regard my gardening practice like a meditation, so i am not sure i have ever hit a wall. it is the one thing in my life that i have been able to do consistently, more so then yoga or actual sit-in-lotus-meditation. i’ve never hit a wall, but i do grow…weary? weary of the same frustrating results (oh, peony, how you allude me)…so then i just shift gears and try something else. a brief romance with succulents…a new interest in giant herb bowls. my gardening practice changes all the time, and i never grow tired of getting my hands dirty.

  48. I hit the wall when it comes to watering as one of our plots is up a hill. The other wall is trying to keep up with the produce at the same time as trying to garden. I seem to spend days just picking food and preserving it one way or another and I hate throwing food away.

  49. My wall-hitting moments usually involve seeds – either putting them in soil and getting nothing for months and refusing to give up, or, worse, seeing them sprout and then fall over dead for no discernible reason. This happened last year and I nearly swore off seeds forever. But I’m glad I didn’t. The seeds this year did much better. The biggest change? Moving them away from the window and putting them under artificial light and a heating mat. I wouldn’t way I’m *good* at seeds now, but at least I’m no longer a serial killer of them.

  50. I hit the wall really early this Spring, as my pregnancy progressed. I’m now 8 months along and my back can’t last very long in the garden!

    Also very happy to have found both of your blogs :)

  51. I’m still new to gardening … I recently hit a wall trying to tie together all the plants I’ve bought the last few years while experimenting & learning. I’m addicted! So I’m pulling together a plan this year.

  52. Interesting question “Do you ever hit the wall in gardening?”

    I find it difficult during the hot periods of the summer, but I never just want to throw up my hands and say “I give up”, which is what “hit the wall” means to me.

    My favorite time is spring, when everything is fresh and green. Right now my gardens are looking good (although not as good as they could be, as the spring has been so wet and cold, and I’ve also been hampered by an injury).

    I cope with the heat by gardening in the shade, and in the coolest part of the day I can find. I’m always sad when the garden starts to die back in late summer, but then I start to watch for end of the season plant sales. Hope springs eternal. What will next year bring?

  53. Bernadette B.
    June 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm
    In gardening everyone hits the wall eventually. My “smash” is when I have to be standing outside in the Pennsylvania heat. Oh dear!!!!!! The sun is unrelenting and I feel so bad for my veggies/flowers that I stand and commiserate with them while they are drinking in their root water. I love my fresh veggies but I am so happy in the winter when it is cool outside. Now don’t get me started on canning in my hot kitchen……….

  54. My “wall” is my former lawn. I removed it, mulched the space and have dithered for 3 years since deciding how I want to proceed. Spring is ok, ‘cuz it’s a field of poppies- GORGEOUS. but the rest of the time the ground is fallow. Problem is too many competing ideas….

  55. I hit the wall when I moved to my current house — the front lawn was filled with Bermuda grass and we wanted to put a garden there. We had to dig up the entire lawn — 12 inches deep and sieve the dirt to remove all of the pieces of bermuda that would grow to be new strands of “wire grass.” We would start about 6 o’clock in the am and work till 10 — at that point, it would be 90 degrees and sweltering. We did this much of the summer. I would not be able to do it again.

  56. I hit a wall at the end of the growing season and I’m embarrassed to admit it but I’m almost always very happy to see the first frost. In a martyr-like way I mumble to myself, “there is nothing more that can be done now.”

  57. I have a much smaller yard now, and no edibles, so I don’t find I hit the wall anymore. Also I depend on shrubs, trees and perennials. So the maintenance is really minimal. When I had a veggie garden I did find that everything was ready at once, and my children would have soccer, and nothing was getting picked, that was frustrating.

  58. I have literally hit a wall when building a rock wall for my little garden. I try to do it by myself but I always seem to need my husbands help in the garden and around it. You see, he is the actual gardener in the family, he grew up helping his mother with their rather large family garden. I on the other hand have a mother who can kill a plant within the same week of me giving it to her. I am learning though. I have a rather small flower garden with iris, hostas, lilies, bee balm, chinese lanterns and a couple other little plants that I don’t know the name of. Every year I buy impatiens to plant as well as a few lettuce plants. On our back porch I have 5 buckets where I pland tomatoes and then one bucket with horseradish and one for my chives. So, I am slowly starting to spread my wings and try new things. :)

  59. No, at least not yet. I find every year challenging and rewarding in new ways. The lessons are constant, it seems. Working in the garden renews my spirit, hours pass unnoticed. Planting, harvesting, weeding, mulching, watering, observing, pulling up plants, planning some more. Reading new garden books, researching problems, trying something new, talking to friends and experts. Combining new varieties of flowers, vegetables and herbs, the possibilities are endless. Colorful delicious things to eat, new recipes to try, new cook books to buy. And always, a continuous supply of fresh flowers on the kitchen table. The garden creates a feast for the senses, beauty and peace and enriches my life like nothing else.

  60. I hit the wall when I moved to a new house with a little yard and terrible soil. I had to re-learn a lot!

  61. I forgot to cut and paste. BUt what I said on Away to Garden was that I dont hit the wall unless I am physically ill. Roses give me trouble, but I am still trying this year. I planted whole plants, not just bareroots and I think they are already looking good. Ild love to win the books. thanks

  62. I hit the wall every spring. There is so much to do and I’m always behind (at least a week) because there never seems to be time to get it all in.

    I also get overwhelmed during harvest. Because I can and perverse most of what we grow (plus additional items purchased at the farmer’s market), there is always a day when I am done with the garden forever. (Luckily, it usually only a day).

  63. Every year it is the same thing….the heat and no rain makes for some really difficult gardening. We are under water rationing since April.

  64. Generally I hit a minor wall every year, whether it’s the sudden switch from our very brief Spring to sudden Summer heat and dryness, frequent hailstorms or the ennui of a never-ending summer. But this year I hit a major wall in early March before I ever made it into the garden when we lost our 17 year old nephew. He and his brothers live 3 blocks away so they are partially our boys too. He died suddenly during a sporting event and I just haven’t been able to garden since. I’m planning to get out into the garden this week and at least get some veggies in the ground. Drought, hailstorms, late and early snows are nothing compared to the wall of grief.

  65. I hit the wall this spring when I realized that I was in responsible for planting out the entire “Giving Garden” I started with some friends last fall. My friends are all great people, but I’m the only gardener :) It’s been an interesting experience with the garden…we’ve donated lots of spring vegetables to the local Women’s Shelter.

  66. I hit the wall mid-summer when I give in to the Southern heat and turn on the air conditioner–usually about July 1. Each year I try to hold out a little longer, but there is something about stepping out into the heat of the garden from the relative cool of the house that just saps my will to garden! I turn the garden over to the weather gods for a month and reclaim it in mid-August with renewed gusto!

  67. I only just started my garden so I haven’t “hit a wall” yet; still too excited! But I imagine that since I’m determined to grow my garden in a sustainable way with no chemicals that I’m going to have to really get used to some critters that creep me out at some point!

    Thanks for this great set of posts! Wonderful interviews :-)

  68. I hit a wall the first year I planted a garden. It was far bigger than I could ever hope to maintain with a 40-minute (one way) commute to work. By high summer I was staggering out there only occasionally to pick what hadn’t already fallen to the ground. Now I underplant rather than risk that.
    I checked your book out of the library after I moved into my present home last summer–where I again have space for more than a couple tomato plants. Unfortunately, I had to give it back to the library! Would love to win my own copy. Thanks!

  69. this is my first year gardening…but my big challenge that is forcing me to hit the books and think creatively is pests! thanks ladies.

  70. I usually hit the wall in May. I live in Seattle and am always hoping the weather will be warm enough for me to move all my starts out into my garden, but it never is. It’s incredibly daunting moving my starts inside and out until JUNE!

  71. I hit the wall this Spring when I was trying to find space in my backyard to start a vegetable garden. I recently started to compost and wanted to reduce my carbon footprint so I thought the next step for me would be to start my own vegetable garden. I’ve been gardening for many years and every day I learn something new. I already have a flower and herb garden and since my backyard is small trying to find a place for my new vegetable garden was a challenge for me. SOLUTION: Rearrange and clean out an area next to my flower garden to make room for my new vegetable garden. My soil is low quality with lots of clay so I built a fabulous raised vegetable garden bed mixed with 50% garden soil and 50% compost. I started all my vegetables from seed in the Spring and am currently growing tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, beans, peas, watermelon and peppers. I can’t wait to see how my vegetables turns out this summer. I’m so excited!!

  72. I hit a wall when I realize I have more seedlings than space. Dig up more yard? Plant fewer things? Neither are good answers.

  73. Your answers are reminding me that I do hit the wall from time-to-time — I was just so caught up in being unable to get out there for so long that I forgot about the challenging moments. Last year we went through a heat wave that had me outdoors after dark, gardening with a flashlight.It was too hot to go out onto the roof during the day!

  74. Though I love the aesthetics of flowers, I mostly grow food. Some of them make flowers that turn into food, so it’s like a nifty way of enjoying something for how it looks and then eating it. There’s no other way that I could make that any better, since I love love love food. And usually nature does all the work for me. :)

    This is my second summer gardening, so I am in no way a seasoned veteran. However, I know what my wall is already. It happens right as the heavy rains in West Virginia fall — it feels like everything I grow is either moving in slow motion or drowning in the water that constantly collects in my garden (no matter how many methods I use to try to stop it). I freak out and wonder how my ancestors made it through those times, because even though I know the sun will come out and the water will dry, and eventually my plants will grow again. But in late April through mid-May, I am in full out panic mode and actually go through all five stages of grief.

    So now that you definitely know that I am a complete rookie… still, also know that I’ve eaten over 20 strawberries and 17 green and yellow beans so far. And my corn is up to my hip now. It’s so much different than it was a month ago.

    In short, my wall is the month of almost constant rain that happens in my region coupled with my newness to gardening. I have to get over the hump and realize that, yes, the human race still continues after rain puddles.

  75. Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one!

    In the past, I’d hit the wall gardening late in summer when the water supply was low, the fire risk high and the gophers were raging out of control. It’s enough to suck the joy right out of even a stalwart gardener… It always sends me back to the Farmer’s Market, so it’s not all bad.

    This year, we are in a new place, and I hit the wall at the start of the season, when I pulled back the nasturtiums to clear a plot for our food garden and found huge piles of used clumping kitty litter, burned plastic and painted wood remnants mixed in with piles and piles of ash and particle
    board sawdust. Eww!

    Luckily, I’d ordered “Grow Great Grub”, and now I’m getting all wild with grow bags and containers. That way, we can get the garden started and deal with de-funkifying the garden at the same time. No way we want to chance growing directly in the soil, maybe raised beds in the future.

    If I win, I will donate the books to the local library, and spread the love out into the community (after I read Margaret’s, which I don’t yet have).

    Either way, thanks for the great site(s) and books!

    (As an aside: I’m going to try my hand at some zero up-kill critter trapping this year.)

  76. we -my husband is the work horse, would it be fair not to include him? tun out of steam in august when we seem to lose the battle with heat and weeds. Always happy to harvest out little crops in september tho.

  77. I hit a wall at the very beginning (like right now) when looking at that big patch of tilled earth and feeling overcome on where would be the best spot to put whatever. Once I dig those first few holes, it all seems to come together once again. Then, again in mid summer in the high humidity of Ohio, I remember to go forth and water and weed because I will be so well rewarded later on and into the winter with preserves and such. I love my garden, even though I frown at it from time to time. ; )

  78. This is my first year growing vegetables (though I was born on my grandmothers farm in Trinidad and lived there before we came to Canada) I’ve hit so many walls already it’s not funny. The biggest wall I’ve hit so far was when someone told me it’d be okay to start hardening off tomato seedlings in March this year and all of my plants died. I wanted to give up so bad, but I didn’t and now I have my first tomato plants in my tiny patch outside that I grew and planted all myself. I haven’t even gotten a tomato out of this and it’s been so rewarding already!

  79. I’ve recently started a job that requires a whole lot of gardening – we’re managing a local composting center and two community gardening projects. Gardening has, all of a sudden, taken over my life – my teeny front yard, my balcony, my office, our gardens! I’ve never felt so exhilarated and relaxed at the same time. Walls, forget about them. Just plough through!

  80. I hit a wall when I realize that I’ve been working to make my garden pleasant and enjoyable for others and forget to stop and enjoy it myself.

    I also hit a wall when a hail storm hits my Colorado backyard garden — one year it destroyed everything. I cried for a week. I recovered when the local gardening center sold me their hail destroyed perennial pots for 50 cents. I bought a ton, brought them home and put them in my then very new back yard that still needed filling in. I had to wait a year to enjoy the results, but boy oh boy was it great.

  81. I stand on my deck in the heat of July, the ice cubes in my glass of iced coffee just slivers. My plants turn their parched faces to me and I say, I’m sorry fellows, my legs are lead and I’ve hit the wall.

  82. This is my fist season having an outdoor garden, everything is still exciting and new. I am just about squealing with joy everyday as I see green coming up from the ground where I planted my onion sets… and I admit I sniff my tomatoes everyday and am just ecstatic; “I grew that from a *seed* and it is a tomato plant and it even *smells* like one! Sigh. Nope, I have never gotten close to throwing in the trowel, but I am sure the day will come… probably around the time the squirrels/bird/slugs/whatever-assorted-pests-may-be-lurking-out-there decide to taste test my produce…

  83. No question. I hit the wall when southern heat and humidity make even early morning gardening pretty uncomfortable – by mid to late July, it’s all I can do to just keep things going.

  84. The wall I keep smacking into is BUG WARS!!! All my gardening has been rural and I’ve never had a particular problem with bugs – I always won the battle. I am urban gardening for the first time. Surely bugs would not be a problem in the middle of this metropolis… concrete and a couple million people for miles and miles and miles. Figured I’d be lucky to even see a bug. But the bugs turn out to be the lucky ones. We are an oasis, a sanctuary for them. They have brought so many troops into the battle that I am loosing, BIG TIME! And I will not poison my food for the sake of winning this war.

    Would love to have copies of your and Margaret’s books.

  85. I am a renter, so I constantly hit walls when it comes to my gardening. I know that everything that I plant goes into a property that does not belong to me.

    So, why do I do it?

    Because I believe in the beauty and power in a garden, irregardless of who “owns” it. In my mind, Mother Nature ultimately owns it.

  86. I get really frustrated when I look at my seedlings. Everyone else I know has these huge plants and mine are all so little, even though they looked perfect when they sprouted. But I know eventually they’ll grow and I’ll reap the benefits. Until then I will take a deep breath, cross my fingers and pray!

  87. In Vermont the season is too short and precious to hit the wall gardening, now shoveling snow, that’s another story. Count me in.

  88. Margaret sent me … Glad to learn about another gardening blog :-)

    I garden year round so don’t really ever hit a wall. Gardening is a continuous thing for me. I follow the motto of “live every day as if it is your last but garden as if you will live forever” Certain parts of the season are more busy than others and if certain tasks have been neglected, that definitely means more work. I also miss opportunities, buy or start too many plants, and kill too many as well. But all that is a little bit more garden wisdom obtained. And when I reach overflowing, I start giving a lot of it away. Presently, I am giving away extra tomato plants to happy recipients. But I know where you are coming from and see a lot of new gardeners get in way over their heads. i help out the best that I can. And then there is the weather …. :-)

  89. I sometimes hit a wall and become frustrated over the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be and it takes me a lot longer to get things done in the garden than it used to…but I’m stubborn so it doesn’t keep me down for long : )

  90. Like someone else commented earlier, I’m still pretty new to gardening so haven’t hit the wall yet. I have my moments of frustrations and dare I say I’d like to hit the squirrels against the wall sometimes!!! But, I just keep going and doing my best to learn more as I go, and am constantly thrilled when I’m able to grow anything at all!

  91. Gardening is something I do to feel good. I love the miracle of growing things and am finally trying to grow some flowers and herbs from seed. I usually buy seedlings, but if I can get the seeds to sprout and grow into plants I will be SO happy. This year I have two raised beds with spinach, chard, kale, sweet peas, beets, beans, tomatoes and basil, and I’m trying to grow potatoes in “grow pots.” My cherry tree (with three varieties grafted onto one rootstock) has about 100 cherries– which I’m hoping to save from the birds by netting the tree. I haven’t felt like throwing in the trowel yet, because even though I don’t always succeed (for example, this is the first year I’ve gotten sweet peas to flower!) I continue to learn and get better at this. Thanks for giving me a chance to win your books.

  92. I am so overwhelmed by my new vegetable garden this year. It’s
    much larger than my old one but filled with a million rocks and quickly being overrun by weeds :-(

    Par of me feels like I am frantically racing against the clock on weekends and the other part of me is exhilirated by all that us growing.

  93. I think I “hit a wall” every summer when we have consecutive days over 100 degrees and I am just “putting out the fires”. But this too passes and I am ready to start my Fall garden.

  94. I hit the wall when my expectations exceed my time/land/pocketbook. So what’s new? Maybe it’s not realistic for one person to do more anyway. . .
    I enjoyed your exchange.

  95. Definitely! Every July in Texas the weather is just too hot to garden. And also too hot for anything to survive.

  96. I am just entering my second year at our new home and hit a serious wall this February. I was so ready to go and start planting, but our winter seemed to go on forever. I decided to start some seedlings inside and then built a soil sifter to take my mind off planting for a little while longer. What a relief when those first sprouts started to pop up!

  97. I am a Massage Therapist and an Artist. That pretty much equals a limited income. That’s really my only wall yet year after year, I always seem to climb or even jump over the wall. I have to- my little gardening efforts are huge in my heart and give me quality meditative time with Nature. Weekly gardening expenses: $15, Peaceful heart: Priceless.

  98. Y’all are so inspiring, how could I not want to own your books (I’m currently reading yours from the library and enjoying all those archives on the web) I think I may hit the wall this year since I now have 3 (!) community garden plots and several beds in my front yard. Eep! I should be out there right now!

  99. This is my first year to have my very own garden and I’m really excited to see how it will do. I have a plethora of vintage gardening books handed down to me from my grandparents and parents. Although I’m learning so much, I’m always eager to learn more! I’m always finding and sharing tips and tricks about gardening on my blog. I’ve learned SO much from both of your blogs, I would love to win your books!

  100. I hit the wall this spring when my husband accidentally knocked over and destroyed an entire flat of starts…all the tomatoes, peppers, and cukes! Wahhhh!! I wanted to take my toys and go home! But I got over it (eventually) and he got me some replacement starts from the nursery so he is forgiven.

  101. Trying to survive a hot, hot, hot week here. Our eight apple tree grafts seem to have taken and I am in heaven waiting for the heritage raspberries to get settled and produce. Other than that, sweating a lot.

    Glad to have found another kindred garden spirit. And off to a special workshop next week with Holistic Apple Orchard guru, Michael Philips. It doesn’t get any better than this.

    Count me in!

  102. I love the small shade garden in front of my apartment and I have worked very hard to make it into something lovely. Unfortunately, the garden is bordered by a sidewalk and flower theft is a big issue. My hydrangea and hellebore have both had blooms pinched, but the last thief took the cake when they stole each of this year’s alliums before they opened up. It is directly after each theft that I hit the wall. Thanks to my slight obsession with gardening, however, and the encouragement, humor (shout out to the “what’s next? punching kittens” sign on You Grow Girl) and inspiration from both of these blogs, I keep going and know that no matter what comes, I will always garden. Thank you both.

  103. Okay, posting most of the same comment here as I just posted on AWTG, but with a little tweak to say: wow, I love the color of Margaret’s house! We have a teensy 1914 farmhouse in buttermilk yellow that we need to paint soon…I may make a pitch for this combination. It’s gorgeous.


    This was so great to see–I’ve loved You Grow Girl for ages, and recently had Grow Great Grub out from our library–but didn’t realize the connection until I saw Gayla’s photo here. (I remember seeing her photo holding the passel o’ mint in GGG…the penny drops!)

    I’m relieved to hear that other people also poop out on gardening sometimes. I love it, but sometimes I love standing on the back step looking blankly out at the unmown grass more than…actually mowing the grass. I’m also a typical over-buyer, over-planner, over-attempter, and I get myself into exhausting situations where I have to move 7 yards of dirt and 1 yard of river rocks by hand*, or plant multiple fruit trees, build raised beds, and de-buttercup the new rain garden all before my parents arrive for a visit.**

    I know I’ve hit the wall when I’m weeding and I can’t manage to toss a $&@! clump of buttercups into the weed bag three feet away from me. When I start missing at three feet, it’s time to pack it in for a while.

  104. Do you ever “hit the wall” with gardening, and want to throw in the trowel? You bet I do. It happens once every year, sometime between mid-August and mid-September as I am wandering through the dahlia beds! I get sick of the endless watering, weeding and deadheading that I had spent the whole winter daydreaming of with so much anticipation. Sometimes I recover and catch a second wind sometime in October or November….but many years it takes me all the way until February before I do any actual work, like pulling a weed. I don’t totally abstain though, I’ll take an occasional stroll through the garden to enjoy nature’s handiwork, and kick myself around a bit about all the work I should be doing. Thankfully my wonderful husband often fills in on those loathsome chores like putting the vegetable garden to bed for the winter and slug hunting expeditions. I’m so glad that plants are so forgiving….it suits my gardening temperament just fine!

  105. All of my previous gardens have been on Long Island where summers are hot and steamy. I hit the wall when the garden is being most productive and there’s a lot of weeding to do. Then the temperature and humid soar, and I’m a dishrag in just a few minutes. Working very early in the day and again at the very end of the day has been a way around the dishrag phase.

  106. * Actual occurrence.

    ** Slight conflation, but essentially actual occurrence. Also, the living room had just been skim-coated and had to be painted.

  107. I think I hit the wall this year! After living with an idyllic garden for years, I recently moved to a city and its all walls and concrete. I had to really rethink how I was going to get my hands in the dirt! Pots, makeshift beds and cinder block containers – I have realized anything will do and anything goes! PS- would love, love, love to read these fabulous books!

  108. I am new to gardening on a larger scale than a few plants this year. Haven’t hit the wall yet! Already dreaming up a large raised bed wonderland :)

  109. You have a wonderful blog. I’m so glad Margaret introduced me to it through this exchange. I’ll definitely be a frequent visitor now!

    I think all the walls we’re discussing aren’t really walls at all. Hitting a wall is such a finite phrase to me. I’ve encountered many obstacles in my gardening: poor conditions, poor weather, horrible allergies, invasive plants, poison ivy, lack of space, lack of water, lack of funds, lack of time etc. But somehow, I’ve overcome them all and found my fingers in the dirt again. Something about gardening is healing and spiritual for me. Even though it presents me with trials and tribulations every season, the benefits always overcome the odds. Gardeners don’t garden because we want to, or because we should; it becomes a part of who we are and we find it impossible NOT to, regardless of any walls.

  110. How wonderful to have stumbled upon one great blog only to find another! Thanks for the beautiful and useful inspiration.

  111. Renidea: That is very true. Everything I’ve done as a gardener up to now was because there was a wall and I kept going regardless.

    Shash: I was just talking about that plant theft yesterday! Apparently that sea holly variety is very popular — no wonder someone stole it!

  112. I did hit a bit of a gardening wall this year as I am undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and just don’t have the energy.

  113. last summer, i totally hit the wall with gardening early. very early. late june, i think. maybe early june. poison ivy did it. and creeping charlie.

    but this year, i have dug up the poison ivy–i do not get a reaction to it!–and have remade the veggie garden. the plans to retackle the garden under the magnolia and in front of the house will wait for next year, after i have made the creeping charlie succumb.

  114. I admit to having completely given up mid-summer last year. The scorching heat and dryness down here in the south made it impossible to keep my community garden plot from shriveling up and dying, no matter how often I watered it from our cistern (which I was having to constantly fill up from a hose because there was no rainwater to be caught in the cistern).

    Rather than kill myself trying to get those summer tomatoes that would never arrive, I just went “meh” and went into hibernation til this spring.

  115. I have a few times ‘hit the wall’ … one time was when I thought my garden hose was a snake. Another time was coming back after the season when my brother died. I’d started after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness as something therapeutic to sustain myself through; and returning initially forced me to think about his absence while I was there and I hit a wall of sorts – it wasn’t doing what it was intended to do … but it ended up that by staying I was able to process and have time alone with my thoughts which wound up being really helpful. I know I have so much more than just the fruits and vegetables from my garden to be thankful for. I even wonder some days while I am gardening if the garden hose wasn’t the snake … if maybe there had actually been a real 6 foot long one there … then my remaining a gardener, means I am actually braver than I think I am. I have amused myself with that thought more than twice.

    If I win the book I will give it to someone, of course, because I already have it :)

  116. Dona M
    June 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I’ll never forget hitting the wall. With care and a sequence of growing years established, my dwarf pear tree was laden with little 2? pears. I would visit it each day watching with glee this yearly ritual from flower to fruit. Then one day a storm barreled down on us, what they call a “nor’easter” and it sheared the little tree breaking the trunk in two. I was so hurt, sad, angry and still in disbelief felt as if I’d never plant another.
    It took me some years, but today I went out to view the new pear tree with it’s crop of little soon to be succulent pears.

  117. I am so new in gardening in my small vegetable garden in the backyard(post stamp size) and my squated construction site that I don’t have any sense of control yet, so no sense of a wall that way yet. however I do get frustrated that I seem to be the only one that cares so much about these little spots of green in my neighbourhood. After carefully taking out paving and putting in earth and homegrowns plants as a good guerrila gardener, I really hit a wall when the municipality cleaner come with their machine that cut away everything! would sure like to hit something!

  118. my wall is the fact that our balcony is being fixed (new railings/new waterproofing) and so my containers are being stashed in a shady area. I could plant salad greens in them, but I keep hoping they’ll finish the work soon (it was supposed to take the month of april and its now june!) so I can move everything back and get back into the swing of things.

  119. I live in the Midwest and hit the wall every year when the temperature hovers around 100 degrees for days/weeks on end. That means the end of some plants fruiting despite being watered regularly. And I don’t blame them – I don’t feel like doing anything when it’s that hot, either!

  120. Actually the wall hit me when I bought this house three years ago. I didn’t know where to start really. Such a sad shape of things. We may have the first ever poison ivy tree in the world!! TOO much poison ivy and over grown and under appreciated perennial species on the property it can make you cry. Weekend by weekend we are dedicated to bringing back the beauty that once was here and committed to having a beautiful garden to enjoy no matter what obstacles we face or the poison ivy that tries to stop us. Look out wall here we come!!

  121. Living in the south every summer when the temperatures soar to the 90’s and 100. Everything starts to cook and the ground cracks I think next year I’m not going to do this. But spring comes and here I go again. Planting again and hoping for better weather. I love to see the flowers blooming and enjoy the vegetables. I had a nice crop of snow peas that my grandchildren love to pick and eat right off the vine. No pesticides!! No Worries!!! Nice feeling. Would love to win the books.

  122. I hit the wall when I’m faced with something new and unknown, like trying to convert most of my lawn to garden beds this spring. Once I get working, I’m fine, but making myself take the first step is so hard…I love to plan but have trouble taking the plunge. I feel frustration when my vision doesn’t translate to reality, so my perfectionist self would rather imagine perfection than plunge in. I need to remember that the unexpected surprises in the garden are what delight me most- like the lush volunteer peony that sprang up this year in the middle of my lawn.

  123. I have a new home with a big yard. i am starting from scratch in learning the land, the sun the zone (4b). I live in a old farmhouse with a subdivision around me. I have some old plantings, blooming bushs and trees 100+ yours old.
    I hit the wall in the spring when i have all the tending to do and getting beds ready to plant, but fall is a bit of a push composting the leaves and tucking in the plants for winter. I would really love the books!

  124. I’ve been hitting a wall every day, the squirrels and I are having a bit of a war and somedays they win, sometimes I win. Can’t wait for the veggies to be big enough to become uninteresting.

  125. Yesterday it was officially 100 degrees, first time this year. Today’s high is predicted to follow in the same vein. The extraordinary white petunias we planted in pots and beds that survived mini freezes before Christmas and after New Years are done, fried. I have to circumvent my root-based Midwest instincts in May (all say “Gosh Darn!”)because Phoenix is, literally, hell on on green thumb.
    ** Send books so I can at least read about gardening!

  126. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Yes, I have hit the gardening wall, mainly due to budget (when I had one), income (currently without one) and land (I have big dreams).

    As the great garden devic would have she has stepped in and provided me the opportunity to garden elsewhere. Sorta have a budget, no land (all containers) and I can create new spaces or attitudes as often as I feel like moving the pots around. Oh and my favorite, I can buy new plants!

  127. Last year I put in a small veggie garden. By the end of July I knew something was wrong; my soil was devoid of any nutrients and my seeds just couldn’t grow. I amazingly came across some organic manure on the side of Highway 6 on the way to Waterloo, Ontario in the fall and bought two large bags. Several days later my garlic arrived in the mail and I planted it in the poop. Things are much better this year thanks to the poop. I never thought I would be so happy about poop, but it really got me excited about trying my hand at veggie gardening again. Wall averted until I get overwhelmed by weeds and heat :)

  128. I have yet to hit the wall but I am sure one day I might. The only thing that I think could make me is when my body no longer can spend the day in the garden. I love my time in the garden. My husband who built my amazing garden loves it too. He says now he always knows where to find me.

  129. It’s difficult for me when things don’t grow. Whether it’s pests eating them, seeds planted/watered incorrectly, or fall planted bulbs that don’t come up in the spring… that’s always difficult for me.

  130. 100 degree days with no chance for rain are my wall. Thanks for the chance for the books.

  131. Wow, I’m glad to have found your blog via a way to garden! The biggest wall I’ve hit so far is not having enough room to plant everything that I want to. We’re getting there.

  132. Count me in. I’m an avid gardner. I have a wonderful space to play with at home and I also have an acre at church to create a wonderful community garden. I am learning as I go.

  133. I probably hit the wall about the time the snow is hitting the yard…after intensively caring for my various veggies throughout the season, I reach the point where I am finally ready for a respite from gardening. I’d probably never make it in California….I am actually ready for fall in Iowa.

  134. I really love your blog, so neat I found another great blog through Margaret’s!

    I hit the wall every time I walk past my neighbor Sophia’s. Every spring I start seeds, fuss over a mini hoop house I built out of pvc, stare at my little seedlings, and pray for warmer weather in my soggy Pacific Northwest vegetable patch. Every year Sophia up the street waits until mid June to till and plant her sidewalk garden strip and every year she is blessed with a bounty of produce, and every year my little plot just struggles along. I hit a wall when I compare my gardening to others. Sad but true.

  135. Having become physically handicapped this year, I’ve hit a new and unfamiliar wall. I now long for the old walls of heat and keeping up with the water. My garden is severely overgrown from lack of care the past year. The work that needs to be done is overwhelming. There are weeds whose roots probably reach China. I threw in the towel this week, but then I found my five peony bushes. Only two have survived and each one has a huge bud, but they’re being strangled out and denied sun by the weeds. The buds have touched my heart and renewed my spirit. I have picked up that towel and am going for the “gold”. My garden will never be “garden beautiful” this year, but there WILL be two beautiful peonies.

  136. I hit the wall all the time. Being a renter with a small outdoor space is just the start. Although it’s usually the creeping charlie/bindweed that does me in. No matter what you do, you can’t get rid of the darned stuff and it’s a constant battle for the entire season.

  137. i’m hoping that if i hit the wall that i’ll be able to just push right thru it. gardening is the best therapy ever and i feel like i’d be lost without it.

  138. I hit the wall when my kid rakes up all the seeds we planted three weeks ago. We’re on our third round of spinach with only scattered leaves so far. Oh, and every year I plant my vegetables waaaaay too close together. In June I think they are still too far apart and in August I wonder at my idiocy. Every year.

  139. I hit a wall gardening for a couple years now, trying to water only with collected rain water and/or grey water. Let me tell you, in the middle of August in Virginia there was no keeping up and it almost kept me from trying a third time. This year, I supplement regular, deep hose waterings from my new outdoor faucet with rain barrel water during the less scorching days. It gets me at my greenie soul, but the benefit of fresh herbs and veggies in 90-degree weather has really helped me push through the wall!

  140. I think I need a “I’ve hit a wall” support group! I live in northern Canada (Whitehorse, Yukon), where our soil is very poor and we have a short growing season. Gardening in the north is a lesson in patience for me–I often start out with what I think will be the ‘perfect garden’ this year and then invariably encounter setbacks (zucchini wasn’t happy because it wasn’t hot enough outside, the cabbage didn’t grow a large head because there weren’t enough nutrients in the soil, etc). And maybe because I am a bit of a perfectionist, sometimes these bumps in the road are hard for me to absorb. But every year I come back to my garden and believe (hope?) that it will be the best year yet….!

  141. Yes, my wall is mid-summer when the heat hits, the plants look ragged, and I too am watering containers every day. That point when it’s too late to plant new things to fill in the gaps so you just have to throw up your hands and wait for fall.

  142. I used to garden on a roof in the middle of Boston, where I had to lug buckets of water up a ladder through a skylight. I definitely hit a wall in mid-summer when I was watering every day with three or four trips up and down. But now I’m in a new place that has a little patch outside – haven’t spent enough time here to figure out whether I will hit a wall or not, but I hope not!

  143. Yes i hit a wall in late July/August, it just gets too hot. I also only have a little patio in my apartment and I eventually get sick of hauling water out there.

  144. Absolutely and my answer was to buy a bigger house with a smaller yard. So happened this spring? I bought as many bedding plants as I would have in the old house…now they are in containers instead of the ground. More annuals, less perennials and so far I’m loving it. Though when I see a yard as beautiful as Margaret’s I’m left wishing for something more!

  145. Since moving to the country, the overwhelming, never get through everything, what was I thinking, “hitting the wall” moments are tempered with the pure joy of creating and tending gardens bigger than my previous lot. It is a good lesson in tackling projects one piece at at time, and choosing to celebrate the accomplishments rather than lament the challenges.

  146. I’ve hit a wall as my beautiful front garden has been overtaken with tree roots. The trees were planted to afford much valued privacy and have grown to make a beautiful living screen. However, as they grew, their roots sought the soft, enriched garden soil and I can’t dig a spadeful of earth without running into them. I will have to move the garden as the trees are simply too beautiful to consider damaging by chopping roots. Also, they’ve grown enough that they shade what was once a lovely sunny space. The plants will no doubt thrive in a more hospitable location. If only we had a climate that was acceptable to hosta!!

  147. Today, I did hit the wall and the ceiling, when someone removed a barricade I had around the sunflowers I’d planted 2 months ago that were doing so nicely. He took it to use to protect a dahlia, not realizing it was a sunflower barricade. My chickens got into the sunflowers and ate every last one. I was so mad!

    And then slugs I think ate a Sunrise Serenade morning glory over night. It’s been wet here and bugs are eating everything.

    And then my new red petunia appeared to suddenly come down with a case of powdery mildew when the temps hit 79 F– so early in the season for P.M. And then a Lavender Simplicity rose branch withered, on a rose that has so few leaves I doubt it is going to make it, due to winter harshness here.

    When it rains, it pours, literally and figuratively.

  148. The wall for me this year is my new baby. Not much energy left to tend the garden after tending the baby!

  149. I hit a wall with tomato plants a few year back after trying various methods in the pacific northwest marine climate. I decided to try it one more time a couple years ago, using an early variety and planting the stems sideways with just the tops of the transplants peeking up through the dirt. That and a full southern exposure against the house, blocking the cold northwest summer winds. It worked!!! I am at it again this year!!

  150. Living on a couple of acres in the Pacific NW, where plants don’t ever really stop growing, the few years on my property have brought visits to the gardening wall almost weekly. The wall and I are still trying to work out a deal, but with the ideas in my mind moving so much faster than time, only the tasks on the top of the priority list win. Mowing is on the top of the list right now and can be a rather meditative activity, but when the mowing is pretty much done, the question is which bed to work and how much to work it. Sometimes, due to the wall, I opt for a hike, knowing that the weeds in the bed and the new plants will wait until tomorrow.

  151. Gayla – This is my first time on your blog. I love it. Can’t wait to read more.

    I hit a wall gardening when I moved in January of this year. The night before I was supposed to be out of my apartment, as I was rolling my 5′ x 3′ garden box to the moving truck, one of the wheels popped off. I tried rolling it on just the three wheels when another one broke off.

    I spent the next few hours out in the cold re-potting my bulbs and cold-hardy plants and trying to figure out what to do with all the dirt. Around 2am, I gave up, took apart the box and threw everything else away. I was so sad that my little garden was gone.

  152. I start strong every spring and then let nature handle the rest thus taking any pressure out of it. That being said, I grow only veggies and fruit that appreciate independence…apple and cherry trees, peas, lettuce, herbs. You just CAN’T go wrong with those!

  153. This is only my 2nd year in this location, but so far my unexpected walls have been the amount of shade the apartment buildings create on my backyard and the amount of rain we get. I fought powdery mildew last year and am trying my best to avoid it this year.

  154. I usually get a little over ambitious with my garden, and last year had a new neighbor who wanted to start another huge plot between our homes. It was a big chore. It’s always hard, physically demanding work getting all the plots ready for planting in my own smaller garden, and I usually do most of it on my own. It’s really hard as I have limitations with my arms and what tools I can use and how much I can do at once. Having friends involved helped me a lot, and even though my garden-sharing neighbor had to move down the street due to a low-down landlord, we are still working the same plot as a squatter garden this year! The hardest part for all of us usually comes in August when temps and humidity are constantly in the upper nineties. The stifling, thick air makes it hard to get outside! I try really hard to use up/ put by/ or give away produce as soon as possible because sometimes it can be overwhelming! We have had a lot of hard-hit families in nearby areas this spring, so I hope we will be able to donate some of our food to help. I have also had a personally trying year and hope that the motivation to get out and work to help others as well as my mental state will be motivation to get through the wall, so to speak.

  155. I usually hit the wall at the end of October when time is running out for zone 4–and the plants are looking tired and beat up. But by mid-December, I am dying to get back into the garden.

  156. I hit the wall the first few times I tried to garden because I didn’t know about soil amendments, mulch, etc. I could not keep up with the weeds! Now when younger people ask me what they should plant in their new garden, I always tell them good dirt. It makes the rest of gardening so much easier. You don’t need chemicals if you take care of your soil.

  157. I don’t have a green thumb at all. I have the black thumb of immediate and certain plant death. I’ve started two gardens. The first failed miserably and the second produced a single very nasty tomato. That failure was my greatest gardening success. All I have done gardening-wise is hit the wall. I have recently moved to a new house and I want to try it again, but this time I’m going to research the best spot and best things for a beginner with the touch of death to start with.

  158. I’ve hit the wall with trying to set up a drip irrigation system. It feels like it should be a simple thing, but for some reason, it is driving me nuts and I have a leaky faucets I need to replace…

  159. my hayfever makes me want to stay indoors forever! for sure want to give up somedays…

  160. I have been hitting the wall on gardening as I still live on a flat :(
    Do count me in on giveaways please!

  161. Excellent content to use just one word. As for hitting a wall, I hit one rather early on as I hired myself to do the landscaping of our newly built home 3 years ago. I had absolutely no experience, which is probably why I came in with the lowest bid, which was the deciding factor since there was no money leftover for landscaping (shocking, I know). I made the mistake of bringing home 60+ shrubs, mostly viburnum and lavender, from the nursery thinking planting them would be a piece of cake, just dig a hole and throw it in there. 2 weeks later when I still hadn’t gotten all the plants in and they were starting to suffer (did I mention it was May and I live in Greece where it can be in the 90s in May?) I hit my wall, understood my folly, but didn’t throw in the towel. I’m happy to say I didn’t lose 1 of those 60 plants, though I have managed to kill many since!

  162. Yes, sometimes I hit the wall gardening but it is usually right after a blustery wind has blown in my area for a few days drying everything to the point that it is wind-burn. When you live in an semi-arid climate the last thing you need is wind blowing all day and night drying everything out! Ugh! Bug somehow things seem to recover…

  163. I hit the wall with weeding. It’s never-ending. I work full-time and have 3/4 acre with perennial gardens in front and in back. Thankfully the flowers are lush enough in most of the beds to hide a lot of weeds. But the weeds in the lilac bed on the edge of the front sidewalk are embarrassing. I need some new tricks to tame those monsters.

  164. Jane
    June 2, 2011 at 7:39 am
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I hit a wall last week. I read and dreamed and planned during out long, long winter about how I would begin gardening organically. I ordered a leaf mulcher online, and have realized that my compost will not be ready for a long time. My plan involved taking out some old-fashioned clipped hedges along the front of the house, as well as, forming some new raised beds. I became so overwhelmed because I didn’t know where to start and decided to not do anything. But that was last week. This week finally feels like summer (instead of the perpetual March we have had all ‘spring”) and I am ready to start again.

  165. I’m also new to gardening so have yet to hit a wall. I continue to learn from my many mishaps!!

  166. There have been times when gardening seemed overwhelming – too much to do – too little time in my life – but those times also seemed to coincide with big changes in my life like two moves to live and work in Beijing – where gardening was neatly reduced to a couple of potted plants. A very Chinese way of gardening. Needless to say I’d love to win the books!

  167. Attempting to conquer all that the May garden requires while eight months pregnant is throwing up a wall whose top I can’t even see! I knew I’d be making some adjustments this spring – no big projects, less impulse plant buying (I’m being so good!), not as many pots to water (I’m not being so good…). But to go from being able to garden all day every day to maxing out from exhausting 3 hour stints a few days a week has been a major bummer. Where is my fairy garden helper when I need them?

  168. I’ve got to say, while I’m an avid fan of cats and dogs alike, it’s the cats that make me hit the wall in terms of my garden…and they don’t even belong to me. Beautifully nurtured and cared for seedlings from my small green house (green shelf?) become fodder for cats who think my container gardens are their personal cat litter boxes. Droves of them visit, and droves of them upearth and “deposit”.
    When growing season comes around again, I will definitely be planting some conspicuous cat nip and hope it will do the trick of leading them astray!

  169. I hit the wall last autumn when my first gardening season was over. I decided to try growing some herbs inside, but they all died (poor light in my apartment) and I got frustrated and neglected my poor houseplants all winter. Fortunately, they toughed it out and spring got me feeling into it again.

  170. When my husband passed on it was difficult for me to garden, or even water the indoor plants. We spent many hours working together over our 27 years together, and every time I tried to garden I knew what was missing. This is my third season without him, and working in the gardens now brings back bittersweet memories, and a comforting reminder of what we shared. Just picked the first garden peas of the season! RIP JB

  171. Honestly, the only thing that I like about summer is gardening. I don’t know why my greatest passion lands smack dab in the middle of fiery hell. So, my wall is definitely hot weather. Here in Wisconsin, it can be particularly humid as we have a “humid continental climate”. Yes, the coldest of the cold and the hottest of the hot.

    Thank goodness for gardening. It keeps me sane.

    And thank you for the opportunity to enter this contest. I’m a huge (but quiet) fan of both sites. Yeehaw!

  172. What a wonderful giveaway. My little “garden” is a patio garden that doesn’t get a lot of sun so I am really limited to what I can grow. I hit a lot of walls with such a small area and no sun. The most popular thing I grow is my catnip for my kitties. They love it and it has a hard time keeping up with their muching.

  173. In gardening, I never hit the wall, My job requires that I am away a good deal of the time, so to come home and play in the dirt for a short while is pure pleasure. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder.

  174. I’ve only been gardening for 3 years now, but I’ve definitely hit a few walls. This year I’ve passed up on planting carrots at all, because my soil seems to be too dense (there is some clay!) for the roots to grow well. I can do potatoes, but both years I tried most of my carrots were nonexistent! Eventually I may build a special bed and add sandy soil, as nothing beats a freshly grown carrot!

  175. First wall I even met gardening and met head on were the deer and bunnies who consumed my garden when I lived in Pennsylvania. Then I moved to the dry side of Washington state and discovered a climate almost the flip side of the wet warm Pennsylvania climate. We have a dry short gardening season here, average 17 inches of precipitation per year and that in the off months for gardening. I’m finally acclimating, but it’s been a long journey…not unpleasant, just one of constant learning.

  176. My wall is space. I can’t wait to have a yard of my own someday. For now the containers will do… I love seeing what grows from tiny seeds!

  177. Hit a wall in my garden. Literally. I’ve planted right up to the side of the house and now run out of room. Sigh. But, that didn’t stop this little green thumb. Joined a community garden in my town. Land donated by a gracious farmer. Love my little town. Love my little plot with no walls. Love your blog and books.

  178. haven’t hit a wall yet as this is my first year of planting just a few seeds to see how things go. just trying to learn as i go and these books look like they would be a lot of help. :)

  179. I wouldn’t say that I’ve hit the wall in any major way, but I came close the year I had my son, Nate. It was a temporary wall-hitting; I knew that I would return to gardening when I had more energy and more time. And I’m getting there slowly.

    Fantastic contest, and thanks for turning me on to Margaret’s blog!

  180. I hit a wall last month when a horizontal hail storm cut most of my plants in half. They are coming back and I have replaced some but I was so discouraged. They were doing exceptionally well. The hail did’t damage my low plants and today I picked 3 zucchinis – all is well.

  181. Heat and humidity. They’ll do it every time. Just can’t get out there when I can’t breathe. (Though I usually manage some watering/weeding/small chores just as the sun is peeking up!)

  182. I think I hit it this past weekend here in CT. After so much rain, rain, rain and no time to work in the garden, I knew I had to work all 3 days for the Memorial Day weekend. I put in probably 10 hours per day, barely stopping to drink and eat. It was so hot. I was so tired. But I had to keep pushing myself. My back hurt. My knees hurt. My hands hurt. But I accomplished much and now I am feeling better and can enjoy my garden for the summer. Of course, there is always something still to do. But at least not all at the same time!

  183. I have hit a wall today, one day after a fierce wind blew into Montreal and blew over all of the majestic irises in my garden; now, rather than standing erect and proud, their stately stems are bent, and my irises are hunkered down, close to the earth, taking cover for fear that another such wind will arrive unannounced!

  184. I get so overwhelmed because there is so much I want to do, yet it is hard to budget my time accordingly. I hate that the only time I spend outdoors sometimes is the trip between the car and my office.

  185. My wall was two years ago when a plant disease wiped out every single one of my hollyhocks. They were 8-9 feet tall and gorgeous….all gone. No luck last year either…got some foliage, but no blooms. But I’m bouncing back. Decided late in the season last year that it would be a perfect spot for delphiniums and lupins; so I transplanted all I had on hand. I’m happy to say both types now have buds ready to burst open! (and I’ve added some more seedlings that should take off next year)

    I do have one dwarf hollyhock in there for a sentimental memorial; and it’s just lovely.

  186. I’d love to have copies of these books. I finally have myself a small plot of land that I am learning to live with. Some plants are doing well, others not so well. But I keep learning.

  187. I hit a wall when summer’s heat and humidity kick in . . . or when I visit a picture-perfect garden and then come home and feel like mine is so shabby by comparison (although that can sometimes inspire me, too).

  188. I’m fairly new to gardening so I guess I have a bit to go before any walls are being hit :)

  189. I haven’t really hit a wall, because I’m so new to gardening. But I guess I could say the wall usually comes in the middle of the summer when it’s sooooooo hot and I feel way too lazy to go out and tend things. This year I’m hoping to break through that and keep everything growing and happy through the season!

  190. Early spring, when is so much to do in so little time and sometimes mid-summer when is hot and humid and nothing looks good, no matter what you are doing.

  191. The first year I had a container garden, 3 years ago, I took several classes with Gayla at Terrain at Styers. I was SO inspired and got as many things going as I could fit in my tiny city yard and on my roof. Even though I’m only three years in, and I have a limited amount of actual gardening to do, I do sometimes get bummed when I compare myself to others. I’ll see someone’s super productive strawberry plants, or their armload of basil and look at my leafy strawbs and barely-budded basil and feel in adequate, and also sometimes stupid for spending so much time and effort on something that I’m not great at. Doesn’t seem to stop me for long though! A few new buds or the smell of tomato leaves in the morning can’t set my heart a-singin’!

  192. Every week I hit the wall! We just moved out of Manhattan in December to an acre and a quarter of chipmunk-infested almost-forest with a small house in the middle of it. Since the snow stopped, it’s been a never-ending battle just to keep things from deteriorating — I’m still cleaning up last fall’s leaves! But every Friday, as soon as I get my gardening boots and gloves on and head outside, I find a new flower that’s coming up and needs identifying, or that the seedlings I started indoors in April have doubled in size, and I lose myself again . . .

  193. A newer gardener using a rented space in zone 4…lots of walls to hit. But thus far they have just been mini-walls :)

  194. I recently had my appendix out, right at the start of ‘gardening season’ here in the Pacific Northwest. It was time to plant up the deck pots and get the veggies started inside under lights and I just couldn’t get to it all. So, yes, I hit the wall because I couldn’t physically DO it all, and I released myself mentally from fretting about it so I wouldn’t hit the psychological wall!

  195. It is more of a stumble than a hit. Weather in the Pacific Northwest has been the worst rain wise in 35 years plus chilly. Which means my tomatoes, eggplant, peppers first seeded March 2011 have been in & out hardening off but are now back in my cold greenhouse looking very unhappy waiting for Spring when we are nearly into Summer. Heavy sigh. and yes, I would love these wonderful books.

  196. I usually hit the wall in August when the temperatures are high and the humidity is stifling and pulling out the hose to water takes too much energy! But I remember all the good things that I get from my garden and push on. Would look forward to reading both books! Thanks :)

  197. Yes; as evidenced by the 50×30 foot veggie garden having 3 rows still not planted or weeded… We’ve just moved to this house so the front perennial garden isn’t arranged the way I’d like it and I’m not entirely sure of what is coming up, and the veggie garden was so big to plant that while I have most of it looking stunning (in my humble opinion), it isn’t entirely done and I should have planted corn and potatoes in a row by now but haven’t. C’est la vie!

  198. I’m so new to gardening-actually container gardening on my deck that I don’t think I’ve hit a wall. I’m still in the “falling in love” stage.

  199. My wall is time. Never enough to do all the things I’d like to do. I live in Maine. Our winters are too long and the growing season too short. Every day something has changed in the yard and in the woods. It’s fascinating to watch. Now that my children are grown and don’t need my watchful eye, I can turn to gardens that have been planted and reinvented over the years to see where they will lead me this season. I have over 10 acres but my vegetables are grown in containers. I have no tractor or tiller though my compost “pile” is large enough to work on with a tractor. I find I can keep happier veggies in the containers than in the ground where resident grass and other plants never seem to really get all cleaned out. Over the winter I read a little Ruth Stout. I may try her methods for vegetables as well with the patience to know the resident plants are in control of my space.

  200. I am still pretty new to this gardening venture, so I haven’t hit a wall….yet. I would love a copy of either book though!

  201. I haven’t hit the wall yet but this will be only my 3 year gardening. Still, this year has been crazy already! I finally got a seedling light set-up and used it for starting way too many tomato and pepper plants (but many used to die before at my window sill). I am feeling the stress now since I have NO space to plant them all. I already gave some seedlings to friends and donated others to my community garden but still have way too much. Valuable lesson for next year: once you have a proper light set-up most of the seeds sprout and survive vigorously.

  202. Hit a wall: growing more seedlings and buying more transplants than I have pots and space!

    I’d really love a copy of both of your books – they were both already on my amazon wish list :)

  203. I haven’t hit a wall yet, but I’m new to gardening. I think remembering why I started would help me to walk through the wall.

  204. I had a “hitting the wall” experience twice this week. The first was the morning I walked outside to my garden to pick some just ripe strawberries from my two very large strawberry pots. I had scoped them out the night before. Well!!! Sitting on the top of one jar was a very fat squirrel eating an equally fat ripe red strawberry. He/she & company had eatten all the rips & nearly ripe berries-30 or so berries. The jars are now sitting in a wire cage to keep the squirrels out. Now I’m worried about my ripening tomatoes. The last “hit” was when I saw 2 vultures eating at the roadside down from my drive. They were eating the remains of a young red fox pup that I watched playing happily thru the nearby shrubs earlier in the week. I was hoping it would help me with my squirrel infestation!! I comment to a friend about the death & was informed someone probably poisoned the fox like they do the stray cats in our neighborhood. OMG I am so happy I am renting & able to leave this place soon!!!!

  205. I’ve recently hit a wall. I didn’t get into my garden for days on end b/c of my work schedule, and the constant thunderstorms we’ve had here – the result is a jungle garden. I can barely get into my veggie garden right now. This morning I made the first steps of righting it and hope the wall is on it’s way down. Of course a new gardening book could help with that! ;)

  206. Hit a wall? I came to your site for the answer to “how to grow stuff without killing it”. To say I’m a novice is an understatement, but I really really want to learn what’s the best way to grow a vegetable garden.

  207. Oh certainly…. there was the summer the weeds took over and I ignored the whole mess until my sister went out in Sept. with a laundry basket and started harvesting veggies…… and too, I sometimes find that when life has me in the dumps, the garden comes right along due to neglect, but when life is good, the garden is too. Going now to read YOUR blog post! :)

  208. I’m pretty new to gardening, so it’s a bit early to hit a wall. I can say that I have a hard time getting out when it’s raining.

  209. I hit the wall every July, when the temperatures and humidity combine with pooped-out plants to discourage me from working in the garden. The tomatoes and peppers aren’t quite ready yet, and it seems everything needs deadheading and cutting back, so little gratification is found in return for my efforts. Once the heat subsides and produce is plenty, I return to my happy place.

  210. I was really worried about hitting a wall. I just graduated with an agronomy degree and landed my dream job working for a non-profit urban garden (we teach inner city teens how to grow their own food!). I was afraid that after gardening all day I wouldn’t enjoy it as much at home. But happily, I have yet to find that to happen!

  211. I’m with you, Gayla. My biggest problem this year is lack of time. I am finishing my PhD thesis and that in combination with the driest spring in a century (I live in Amsterdam) is making for unhappy plants on my sunny balcony.
    I must say I enjoyed the interviews very much. I have been reading your blog for some time, but I will surely keep up with Margaret’s as well from now on.

  212. I hit the wall after a breast cancer diagnosis, for a while I felt like the garden was mocking my futile efforts at control. But as I finished treatment I started to wash a pane of glass every day in my greenhouse, which was about all I could manage and that was enough to break through and start gardening again.

  213. Hitting the wall is an annual experience. Texas is a wonderful place to have a vegetable garden, except in the summer. We have two garden seasons – early spring and fall. But the summer, July and August especially, makes me want to throw in the towel. Very little produces, everything including the gardener languishes. I spend my garden time in the early mornings getting the beds ready for fall. If you aren’t out of the sun by 9 am you really do risk heat stroke. But finally September comes and gardening life begins again.

  214. I feel like I’ve hit the wall in gardening every year I’ve tried it. First year was successful. Second year we had a horribly wet summer and I discovered that I needed to improve my terrace system.

    Last summer I quit on my garden. My Papaw died and I just fell apart and pretty much let all my plants die. I barely even tried.

    This year I’m still trying to work through the grief and not let it stop me from doing things I agree. I’m hoping that the wall doesn’t stop me again.

  215. As a newbie container gardener I haven’t hit the wall yet and hope that day never comes. I’m enjoying every part of the process from learning what will grow where, how to start seeds, plant, grow, coddle & harvest my efforts.

  216. I just planted my first garden and “I hit the wall” when I ran out of gardening space. Fortunately, a husband and friend helped me dig out some grass and I was able to plant all of my starts and seeds.

  217. I hit a wall when I see how much money I can spend in my gardening hobby! Gardening is never-ending!

  218. This is my second year gardening and I actually chose to seed start thanks to your book “You Grow Girl”. It took me a bit to find my way around but I eventually got the hang of it and loved it. Then the plants went out into “the real world”. Our area has been hit with some disease that is killing tomato plants. So my little babies aren’t going to make it. There have been moments when I have felt like what’s the point. (i.e. “the wall has been hit”) But for the love of dirt and all things green and growing I will push through or climb over this wall one way or another.

  219. Lately I’ve been frustrated by the fact that sometimes I don’t have time to get into the garden until after I get home from work, which happens to coincide with peak mosquito time. Talk about a wall of blood thirsty Mosquitos camped out right in front of your face!

  220. I’ve hit the wall several times. Once with tomatoes that ended up being fried out with tomato blight and the same year, last year, we had very little good long hot sun and it took a lot to get everything growing.
    This year I fear hitting it too early b/c I got space ambitious, sorta the eyes are bigger than the stomach idea but only it’s been the seed packet contents are biger than the garden plots.

    Overall though , I find it meditatve and relaxing to do things like thinning carrots and beets.

    I’d love a set of your books!

  221. I’ve finally planted my very first actual garden this year, so I don’t have a lot of experience to choose from in terms of hitting the wall. But I think last year counts: I started tomoto seeds, which got leggy and pale then died. So I bought some tomato plants and herbs from the greenhouse and planted them in containers in my driveway, the sunniest dogless spot in my yard. But then I had surgery, my wife broke her hand, and we were away for two weeks on a long-anticipated vacation. So the herbs all died, the tomatoes kind of lived, but produced virtually nothing.
    I love reading about gardening and learning as much as I can, so I can hopefully avoid hitting the wall again this year. Thanks!!

  222. Yes and no? This is my first year gardening so I haven’t lost motivation yet. Everything is new and interesting. But I find that my obstacles are time and weather. Boston had a very long cold rainy season that lasted into May. So I planted everything later than I wanted to.

  223. I live in Los Angeles and could garden all year round but I always seem to hit a wall in the winter! It just isn’t as fun as summertime gardening for some reason. Maybe because I’m obsessed with heirloom tomatoes :)

  224. One year i didn’t plant ANYTHING until July 1st weekend….(i guess i hit a wall..) The task seemed too daunting that spring. Luckily while out for a Sunday drive, we passed a road side market that was selling a whole tray of tomato plants for “dirt cheap”. When i got home, I planted the whole tray. We had a huge crop of tomatoes that year!

  225. I’ve been a reader of Living magazine for years, and must confess that I will NEVER give up the gardening issues. The rest of them get perused and passed on, but the gardening ones are a treasure.

    I already have your latest book Gayla, but would love to win an additional copy as a give away for my Master Gardener group.

  226. I’m new to gardening and only have a few small containers, so I’ve never hit the wall until now.

  227. Love both these websites and read them both regularly. In fact, it was Margaret who introduced me to Gayla’s site.

  228. Hmm.. Snails. My wall. I lost about three sets of zucchini starts to those until I caved in and went looking for help at the local garden store.

    Besides that, I was growing vegetables in a fire escape last year. If there’s sun outside, I will garden.

  229. count me in! Since I live in an apartment, and have to drive to my community garden, I periodically hit the wall, and don’t feel like driving to the garden!

  230. Oh, please enter me!

    I hit the wall in summer, when it’s too hot and the weeds are all still growing and the ground is like granite and it takes a jackhammer to get them out… I’ve also hit it right now- it’s been a wet spring, the weeds are taking over, and I have a broken foot, so it’s very difficult to get into a weeding position. It’s taking me twice as long to get anything done! Grrrrr……

  231. “Do you ever hit the wall in gardening?” Every afternoon! After hitting the ground running @ 7:00 am and working like my life depends on it, I am exhausted, famished and frequently demoralized by noon or so. I have to implore myself to stop, then, ignoring for the remainder of my day the 20 or so priorities that I didn’t get to. By sun-up the following day, hope springs yet again and I’m eager to get buzzing around in the most beautiful place I know.

  232. I may have “bumped” the wall this year. But I’ve been gardening for over 40 years and it’s really only a bruise. The situation is that I’m really happy with the plants that I’ve chosen for my gardens and now I’m not trying new ones. Time to shake things up and donate some plants to garden club sales. Both blogs are good stuff!

  233. I don’t so much hit the wall as loose the plot when the baby wakes up when I am half way through some crucial task. Also when the big ones want to ‘help’ and slow me down. I am afraid I speed garden in snatches as time and ofspring allow.

  234. Our wall? It is frustrating to garden in the Texas heat on a small lot, shaded by trees that suck every drop of moisture from the soil…and aren’t especially nice trees. We aim for peppers and tomatoes but settle for less.

  235. Time and weather (we had extremely rainy weather this winter, and we’re supposed to get more rain this weekend, even though it never rains in June) have made it impossible to keep up with the weeds…

  236. I hit a wall when I moved to NYC and did not have outdoor space to garden. Fortunately I brought with me a lovely indoor plant grown from a cutting of a plant owned by a colleague of my husband’s who grew his plant from a cutting. In my first place, I had a lots of west facing windows but in my second place, I have north facing windows, another “wall,” or so I thought but my plants are thriving!

  237. My wall is also about time. I own a developing Nursery that I operate, sow, transplant, market, and everything else on my own. I am at the point that I need to hire a part-time person but hiring, training, and paying that person also takes time. I am very involved in our small town Garden Club which is a joyous labor of love, our members are such varied and beautiful women . I learn so much about gardening and life in general from these ladies. A nice full day in my own landscape or greenhouse is rare, satisfying and enough to keep me going.

  238. I hit a wall every few months with this damn plant I call the “zebra plant”. It’s got beautiful varigated leaves with creamy stripes and a bright yellow flower…. and it dies, always, after just a month in my household. But its beauty keeps luring me to it, and I buy another one, and then cringe one month later when the leaves turn brown and it curls up into a brittle skeleton.

  239. This year I am hitting the wall dealing with the slugs. The wet weather this spring has brought them out in droves. I go out and collect them in a bucket of soapy water early every morning before leaving for work and again at dusk. When it is damp, which is most of the time, I generally collect over 100 (232 this evening). Their favourite diet seems to be cole crops, especially kale, and surprising to me, hot pepper plants. I’m doing a lot of replanting. They’re also very fond of irises and delphiniums and the flowers from white ash trees.

  240. The pumpkin theft from my front yard really bothered me, I’m still at a pumpkin-growing-wall, do I plant another one in the front yard? I know it’s just a pumpkin, but I grew it from seed and tended it. My neice came over every day and kissed it and made up stories about the faeries that lived nearby. I probably will grow another one, but I’ll be setting some booby traps with dog poo and slug guts…maybe a fence would be a better idea?

  241. I hit the wall with weeding. There are so many strangling sort of vines, sometimes I feel they’re out to get me. But I keep at it doing small sections at a time and accept that it won’t be perfect. And when in doubt, add more mulch!

    I have been reading both your and Margaret’s blogs for a long time now. I am so happy to see you interview each other and share your experiences.

  242. My perennials were not as full and healthy appearing as I would like them. Yes, I do compost. I did a bit of research and have fertilized with organic epsom salts. Hopefully it will increase seed germination, fullness of the plants and increase flower production due to its ability to increase phosphorus and nitrogen uptake in plants. Magnesium is needed to assist in chlorophyl production,another benefit of epsom salts. Now,if only I could keep the plant munching woodland creatures away sans expensive fencing!

  243. i would be so delighted to win your book giveaway. i hit the wall when i have done too much in the garden. my body lets me know when i might consider to stop real soon. i never used to listen to it when i was younger but now i stop when it tells me its had enough. our bodies are so wise, tuning into it.. has made a big difference. tuning into the “body” of our gardens makes a difference too, not so much focus on the individual plants but on the whole picture. deep listening…… now there’s a wall to pay attention to…………………………………..

  244. This spring I finally had a yard I could dig up, so I found out where had the most sun, marked it out, and began digging a 31’x18′ rectangle through 4 inches of clay with rocks in it. My garden was nearly a thin strip, then nearly half the size, then nearly finished with a rented rototiller, but I managed to keep myself from giving up each time. Now I have radishes, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, beans and squash.

  245. ’t have much to garden or a clue about the difference between columbine and bindweed, and didn’t want to offend the sweet lady next door who had helped the original owner to create this garden. Our neighbour on the other side has a lovely garden designed by a relative who looks after the Manulife gardens – pretty intimidating. Our garden fell into disarray despite our adhoc attempts to control it. I kept wanting the vegetable patch of my childhood and dreaming about how to replicate the creative gardens at the Brickworks. Two years ago, I put wooden raised beds on the front lawn where it’s the sunniest and planted tomatoes. I wasn’t sure how the neighbours would react and while I got a few sneers, most people had nice things to say so I’ve learned to stop worrying. We’ve had over 1,000 tomatoes each summer. This year I added a third bed so I can rotate crops. Bit by bit, we’re starting to reclaim the garden as our own – not sure why it took me so long to get going. I can only say how thrilled I am that I tore down that wall. While it’s going to take many years to get rid of the bindweed, pulling weeds is a great stress reducer for me. And tonight, we’ll be enjoying home-grown beans, lettuces and radishes with our dinner.

  246. This spring I moved out of the city to the countryside I grew up in, and have finally started a real (i.e. more than a few pots and a small community garden plot), long-term garden of my own! I am thrilled but sometimes overwhelmed by the work ahead, though thankfully I have my mom to help, whose years of gardening have always inspired me.

  247. I’m so excited to find your blog! I came across your books today in random amazon search. It’s a rainy day here, so thanks for the great reading material while I sip my coffee.

  248. I enjoyed reading your book and would love to win!!
    I hit the wall when my body is tried but my mind still wants to continue working to achieve the visions I have in my head.

  249. I hit lots of little walls every time I get to a new stages (planting – seedlings – hardening etc.). I think this is because I am so new at gardening so every stage is filled with doubt and worry that everything will die! and nothing will groooowwww.

  250. I hit a wall right after my sweet peas bloom. I let them go to seed which is messy and looks awful, but the rewards are next spring when they dance in the sun once again!

  251. I find that I hit a wall in spring when there is still so much prep to do to get the actual garden in the ground. We started with nothing but rock in our yard and it’s been a lot pf work to get it to a place where anything will actually grow…I look forward to the regular prepping of a garden and not the building (literally) from the ground up in coming years!

  252. I’ve been gardening professionally on and off for the last 12 years. After a 3 year post-baby break and a move to a new town, I’m working on restarting my business. Reading both your blogs has been a great help in reminding me of all the things I love about gardening. Thanks for the inspiration!

  253. Definitely! This Spring I filled 20 toilet paper tubes with homemade potting soil, and scarified and seeded 20 little lupine seeds. They all germinated but within two weeks slugs had eaten every seedling but one! The one that’s left is pathetic and pretty much a goner. So frustrated and completely unsure how to start over!

  254. I have yet to hit a wall. I came close this year when snails & slugs killed two of my young plants. Sluggo to the rescue.

  255. I hit the wall with gardening when it comes to the initial spring planting. I was in a bad accident so I have a bad back. I can tend the garden pretty easily once all the vegetables are planted, but boy, all that bending over really wears me out. It’s all worth it in the end, because the fresh produce later in the season is so rewarding.

  256. Yes!

    Last year, I got so discouraged when some sort of blight struck my tomato plants in early August. I grow my food in pots on my balcony so I knew I had to act fast to have any hope of saving any of my plants. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Every single plant got infected and withered away seemingly overnight. Plus all the soil in my pots was now infected with blight! Unlike Margaret, I’m NOT a very patient person…but I am resourceful – and on a budget. Throwing away all my potting soil was just not an option so I changed directions and switched to herbs and greens. The blight doesn’t affect them one whit. The funny thing is, I don’t actually miss my tomatoes. My gardens are much easier to maintain. I love the creativity of planting and harvesting my own salad mixes. (I’ve got a hot weather plan for when the cool weather crops fizzle out.) Also, harvesting is done continually so there isn’t that huge rush in August/September to “get everything in.” Oh, and while I had to tear out every single one of my tomato plants by the roots, I did manage to rescue all of the tomatoes. They were still green so I put them inside paper bags until they reddened, then I froze them. I’m still eating them today.

  257. I hit a wall this year. I’d been growing edibles in my front and back yards at my own house for three years – I built all the raised bed boxes, I did all the digging and planting and weeding and harvesting myself. I just moved in with my husband this spring. He had a garden he built himself last year, but didn’t do anything to maintain it after the summer – TONS of weeds. Plus we moved all my raised bed boxes over and had to kill off the grass underneath and fill them with dirt. Which meant we were starting everything all over. The only plants I brought over were the garlic, onion and horseradish I’d planted in buckets. My husband hates the buckets, but I can’t “unplant” them until we plant everything else and I can see where there’s room. Oh, and we don’t have the same days off, so we are hardly ever able to work together, and he doesn’t do much of any yardwork without me at least nearby (and he works until 7:30pm anyway). Plus it’s been raining nearly solid since November with only a few days of sun here and there. Usually on days I work. And the backyard is full of English ivy and blackberry bushes because he paid no attention to it whatsoever for the last two years.

    This is while I’ve been unpacking and moving my two indoor-only girl cats in with his three indoor-outdoor boy cats. Oh, and his mother lives with us too. Don’t ask about that one.

    Yeah. I’ve hit a bit of a wall. I’m slowly climbing over it, but the wall is there nonetheless.

  258. I’ve “hit the wall” last year with my front yard. I’ve been trying to build it into a no non-sense, drought tolerant perennial garden for the past 8+ years. Now it’s certain foliage have taken over and others have died off (like my irises & bee balm) after all these years. :( I hate pulling the overgrown out and not find a new place (no more room) to plant them. Not sure what I’ll do but I definitely need to give some of the plants some breathing room.

  259. I hit the wall when I ruptured a disc in my back. The burgundy iceberg roses that line my driveway had just finished blooming. I shook them out the petals and pretended that there had been a wedding at my house.

    My doctor suggested I give-up gardening altogether. I tried, but I just can’t seem to stop. Now I just garden in slow motion.

  260. Sometimes climbing “walls” are what makes gardening so great. Last year I had a tremendous garden vegetable and flower garden, not to mention borders and island b very mucheds. My wall is having to move it to our new house. Not all my old plants fit into my new garden ..not that I can’t actually fit them (although there is that too) but they seem out of place. It’s a different setting quieter and woodsy compared to our current urban site with screaming sun. Also if I’d had more time I would have dug a seperate bed for the tomatoes, but frankly I’m enjoying them next to my lady’s mantle quite nicely, thank you.

  261. Both these books looks so interesting…I start my seeds and plants in January. I hit the wall every summer when I realise spring is gone and summer has rolled in. Summer means my plants are entering their last phase!

  262. I have not “hit the wall” as I am still a gardening newby. My obstacles seem to be wanting an overflowing flower and vegetable garden and not having quite figured out and accepted that there are limitations to a small garden that is partly shaded by early afternoon. Oh, and the garden is in Brooklyn and I’m in Manhattan. Spring and summer means several trips after work to water/weed – I know, I know – its not good to water late in the day. But I do have an lovely old fig tree, peonies, a lilac bush and this year trying out a new raised bed for veggies, herbs and mesclum.

  263. Just starting to use straw with great results – less weeds, less watering, more joy with working in the garden.

  264. We had a summer a few years back when it rained ONCE. Just once, for ten minutes. And since it regularly gets in the upper 90s here, I had to get up every morning and water the garden for an hour just to keep the plants alive. I’d grumble and complain and whine about how much I didn’t want to get up at the crack of dawn, but a funny thing happened each morning…as soon as I was outside in the (relatively) cool air, a feeling of peace and of purpose would come over me and I’d come to enjoy those moments of solitude before I started my day.

    It helped that the mosquitos were still asleep.

  265. have I ever hit the gardening wall? every year! It’s starts each winter as I read book after book, magazine after magazine, catalog after catalog and attempt to make plans only to be overwhelmed by the process of actually starting a project. I am a planner but the actual to-do overwhelms me as I want things to look like what I read and see in print or on the web. This year I have broken through the wall! Raised beds made, top soil/compost mix in, plants in the ground…Yeah! is it coincidence that I have completed tasks the same year that I begin reading Margaret Roach and A Way to Garden? I think not. Now I have You Grow Girl on the blog roll and watch out everyone I’m ready to Grow Local, Patch by Patch.

  266. Like I said on Margaret’s blog, midsummer is my “hit the wall” time. We usually visit our son in Georgia around that time, for about a week, and when we get home, it’s just overwhelming to think about all of the work that needs to be kept up with when it’s 90 degrees outside. I do feel renewed however, as soon as I see that first perfect tomato, and it gives me just enough of a kick in the butt to get back in there and battle the bugs and critters and the forces of evil that are bent on destroying my hard work!

  267. Heat waves make me hit the wall. After spending way too much time watering, it’s hard to get motivated to weed and tend to everything else.

  268. I hit the wall every time I over order or bring home to many plants because I’ve underestimated the time it was going to take me to dig out that darn centipede grass, then spend a sleepless night because I’m so excited about my new plants and all these great garden ideas keep popping into my head. I am happiest when playing in the dirt and keeping company with my plants.

  269. My wall appeared when I returned to work full time. With this life change, my garden became a jungle. It took an amazing garden tour with a friend to finally provide the inspiration to garden again, even if I can’t maintain the garden the way I did before going back to work.

  270. i hit the wall when what i have sown never gets to be reaped…Thanks for the chance to win…e*

  271. Have I every hit a wall?

    Why, yes I’m hitting it right now. I was recently speaking on how I’ve never had a problem gardening in these 5 years. But oh contrayer, mon fraye.

    I have planted green leafy vegetables like, lettuce, spinach, and chard in a very muddy part of my garden. The actual location is awful, due to me tracking back and forth with my watering hose. I just messed it up this year, when I planned my garden I just knew I was doing the best, now all I can do is cry for my poor babies.

    How they struggle to grow, there suffering. Now I’m contemplating on what to do.

  272. “Do you ever hit the wall in gardening?”
    Gardening is like a marathon for me. When I hit the wall and think I just don’t want to do any more, I push myself through. There’s so much that needs to get done in the gardens and only so much time. The reward is the natural high from the wildlife enjoying the landscape to my family eating the harvest. Makes it all worth the pain!

  273. The more I garden by my lonesome, the more likely I am to hit a wall. Garden with people, and it feels like there exists no wall!

  274. My biggest wall is transplanting – I live in Colorado and all it takes is an hour of accidental sun (instead of shade) and the seedlings dry up completely. It has happened more than once.

  275. We have a tiny urban yard and have spent the past two years redoing everything from planters to parking strip, bricked pathway, raised beds, ground cover, espaliered apples. Even with such a small space the amount of work can be overwhelming, physically and financially. And, now that it’s nearly “done” there are things that you realized or wish you’d done differently…but then again, when I sit in our city park bench (that I refinished) with a glass of wine in hand, it all seems worth it.

  276. We completely redid our yard from parking strip to planting boxes, new ground cover, espaliered apples–the works. Even though our urban yard is tiny, it is a lot of work and a lot of money which wears on you. But then when I sit on the park bench I refinished with a glass of wine in hand and look at it, I wouldn’t change a thing and I’m reminded that the hard work is meditation and meditation is hard work.

  277. ha ha ha, I’ve only hit walls, when it comes to gardening. I’ve killed all my house plants within a month some within a week thanks to over love of watering .

    I’ve decided to win over that curse this year. I am going to learn gardening one plant at a time.

  278. The wall appears for me after the seeds have been started, transplanted and plants are growing but not yet ready to be harvested. This is the work phase where pests appear and must be removed, where weather becomes fickle, and some things work and others don’t. I long for the harvest.

  279. I hit a wall when my seedlings die… Months and months of caring for them indoors, only to have some crazy wind decapitate them. Grrr!

  280. Brassicas. I’ve tried them in several different gardens in two different zones and I just can’t get them to grow. Drives me crazy, because I love to eat them.

  281. My garden has many walls to hit! Examples? Purchased too many bulbs in the closeout sales that need to be planted. Started all those seedlings that now need to be planted. Got behind on the weeding because Life Happened. Too much hand watering to be pleasant. My gardening life cycles between Irrational Exuberance and Cold Reality.

  282. I have to agree with others…SPRING. This year I was so overwhelmed by the cold weather and not being able to get into the garden, the feeling of being buried in work was put off for a while. That, in and of itself, was a problem. Now that the weather has warmed, it is hot and we are racing to get things in the garden. I waited so long to get into the work, I have nearly lost the motivation to do it. My faith and knowing what harvest is to come (hopefully) keeps me outdoors in the sun on these super hot days. Knowing others feel the same way makes a huge difference. I am not alone! Happy gardening to all!

  283. I hit the wall when I realize there are so many vines wrapped around trees and plants, and weeds, that I might never finish weeding and pruning. Then I put my hands in soil and feel better!

    So much happier in the last three years as I garden and grow in love for plants.

  284. We have decided to sell our house of 34 years. We will be demolishing a very old cottage on the ocean and building a small, sustainable home on the lot. I have gardened in both locations for several years but this year I just walk around both properties at a loss as to where to start or what to do. Some of the old established plants at my home should be moved but the land on the ocean will be a disaster zone during construction. The plants at the ‘cottage’ must be moved out of the way. I’m sad and overwhelmed. I would say I’ve definitely ‘hit a wall’.

  285. I’m just getting started-can’t wait to hit the wall. Just glad to finally have the time and space. Thanks for your help!

  286. I hit the wall earlier than usual this year. Normally it occurs when the heat of the summer threatens to kill off my harvest every day and I am tempted to just give in one day. This year, I started sowing seeds about a month earlier than usual because I wanted to experiment with the new zone I live in. By early May things were roaring in the garden and I had to leave town for two 5-day stretches. When I got back from my second trip, the peas had pulled down their supports, the salad table had fried to a crisp, the tomatoes were wild with suckers and not obeying the confines of their cages, the leaf miners and flea beetles and turnip root maggots had established a clear presence, and my last few radishes had gone to seed. Weeds were a mile high and thick like a lawn, coming up through the mulch around my raised beds. I just about turned everything under rather than deal with the aftermath!

  287. Hi Gayla,

    I live down the road from Margaret and I will agree with you that she is a bad ass, in the best of ways. She rocks.

    Glad to have found you through her.


  288. The wall I’ve had to climb is finding new ways to care for my gardens since having my knees replaced 4 years ago and this year dealing with a chronic back issue. Since I can no longer kneel I have had to find alternative ways to do my weeding. For several years I have been using Round-up which can be really tricky, expensive and not really wildlife friendly. I’ve recently found 2 fantastic tools that have helped me immensely. One is the scuffle hoe which easily removes small and shallow weeds. The other is the Fiskars weed puller which easily pulls dandelions and other weeds out of the ground, roots intact. I am so happy to have climbed over this wall to the other side.

  289. A few years ago I was arrested by endless drought & frequent scourges of insects & disease. My alarmed partner in marriage & gardening stepped up while I took a couple of years off from rabid garden-making.
    For the past 2 seasons, a 40 hr/wk job in the sun also curbed my enthusiasm but a new job in a small garden center with trees! & shade! has me back in the garden at home in spare time. If all the weeds are pulled in the shade & it gets too hot for gardening in the sun, I go to the beach for awhile with a gardening mag or book and a sunhat.

  290. Currently it is finding my Guinea hen nests in an inpenetrable “wall” of multiflora rose surrounding my yard. Now, if these wonderful creatures would simply lay their eggs in my vegetable garden – right next to where they dig their dusting holes, I could have my cake (no noxious bugs on my cabbage) and eat it too (more babies and good-eating eggs).

  291. I haven’t really hit a ‘wall’ but come closest in the late summer heat when things look droopy and keep crying for water,,,the saving grace is the fact that I am also enjoying the produce and colors so I can’t really say i am at the ‘wall’! Would love to read both of your books…and I also wish I had a tatoo (always too big a chicken!)

  292. I hit the wall trying to (stupidly) grow cool-season plants in South Florida as a teenager. I stopped gardening for three years after bolting lettuces, dried out peas, and directly-planted flower seeds that never sprouted and I nutured quick-growing weeds in their stead. Now, I’m a little older, getting myself back in the dirt, and relocated to a place with more than one season.

  293. My gardening wall in SW Missouri comes when it is just too dang hot and humid to go outside anymore. I have big windows in the back that look out over the yard and I just stand inside (in the air conditioning) and watch the weeds grow. Why is it that they grow the fastest, when I am least likely to pull them?

  294. Up to this point, my gardening experience has mainly been planting herbs in old yogurt containers in my kitchen; I’ve been so fascinated and surprised by the growing process that I could actually grow anything that I never hit a wall if my herbs didn’t grow as I expected. I’m hoping I can keep up this mix of amazement and joyful appreciation about the growing process now that I’ve realized my first community garden plot will be almost entirely shaded. We’ll see what happens!

  295. Gayla, I’m with you – I hit the wall about mid- to late summer when the heat is on, and the watering is NEVER ending. This is my second year of gardening in my own space, and I was so super excited that I built (confession: my husband built) a second 4×8 foot raised bed for vegetables, doubled the amount of annual containers, and we are mid-way through a complete landscape remodel of our front yard. Whew! We, too, had a terrible spring (I’m not sure we ever really got one!), and this week the temps are climbing to the upper 90s, and even in the dreaded 100s. I just may hit the wall before anything has the opportunity to really get going!

  296. I just came in from the chest high patch of weeds growing in clay at our new rental which “could be” a garden. Each time I look at it, I am torn. We chose to move for a new job, away from the house we designed and poured heart and soul into, the carefully-planned yard, and most sadly, our big terraced garden. To start all over again, at a rental, seems silly. I’ve hit the wall.

    But there’s a part of me that knows, no matter how silly, that my soul needs a garden.

    I would love to read your books. Thanks for the inspiration and kindred spirits.

  297. This is my first season having a garden…I’m a houseplant person. It’s been a blast, totally engrossing, but I am amazed at how much more work it is than I anticipated. The plots I inherited were wildly overgrown, and rehabilitation has taken several weekends. But as it begins to come together and look kinda garden-ish, I can see a new addiction forming. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it!

  298. I have to say, my wall is the learning curve associated with tomatoes in pots. This is my third year growing them–first year they got tall, but not bushy. Second year, they got bushy but no fruit. This year, I’ve invested in organic veggie food… however, I remain doubtful.

  299. I haven’t hit a wall just yet, but I am a new-ish gardener and still loving all I have yet to learn!

  300. Oooh my little plants are just starting to pop out. I just started gardening last year but I am so in love. I’ve read grow great grub from the library but would love to own it…I’m alway up for a couple more books!

    Gardening=spiritual practise: Yes!

  301. This is my first year gardening! I’m sure I’ll “hit the wall” but I SERIOUSLY hope I have several successful years before doing so!

  302. constantly traveling between living at home and my bf’s an hr and a half away makes commiting to caring for a garden a struggle :( i feel as though i neglect the plants i desire to nurse at each place and no one has an interest in gardening the way i do to help. so i’m working around it by leaning towards hardier plants and more succulents this season so i don’t need to ask for as much “garden-sitting”. i have occasionally resorted to traveling between two homes with my seedlings in the backseat so i could constantly care for them! i also plan to give away seedlings to friends to adopt so i have less to care for and start learning more about indoor gardening such as terrariums and hydroponics. advice for the traveling gardener would be great :)

  303. It’s been really hard for me to get my garden in this year, and I realized that when other people in my life (kids, spouse, friends, elderly relatives) require so much support and caretaking from me, I just don’t have anything left to give to my garden. It’s so frustrating because usually I get so much spiritual and emotional nourishment from my garden, but I can’t muster the energy to get it started this year. I haven’t given up yet, though!

  304. I hit a wall every year with brassicas. I don’t know why, but they will not grow for me.

    This year, in particular, I decided to start all my plants from seed (indoor, because I have a very short growing season). I had so many beautiful plants, and then I hardened them off too quickly and lost almost all of them. ::sigh:: lesson learned, but it was a big wall to hit.

  305. Every year I hit the wall. Every year my seedlings damp off, no matter how much I buy new supplies that should be sterile, bleach and sterilize the old tools, and make sure they are not overwatered or in the dark. So after hours and weeks of picking out the perfect seeds to start for my garden I have to go out and buy generic yucky seedlings from wherever still has some left. As an heirloom tomato lover it kills me to only plant the most widely accepted varieties instead of the amazing ones I started with. I’m sure I’ll hit it again when I am lugging out the water since my husband’s DIY hose solution died (pump from river to garden hose).

  306. I certainly hit the wall this year. I usually have at least a broad plan for the year in place, but this year big-time-life happened in the way of my dad getting suddenly ill with a life-threatening disease and his care is likely pallative. During this time my mind was a fog and I didn’t have my heart or mind in the garden. But was anxious enough about the garden that I couldn’t stop. This has resulted in a garden space that makes no sense what so ever this year. Random things are coming up random places. I haven’t left room for many of my summer crops.
    So, I am at the wall right now.

    My more typical wall happens late summer. I plan and dream of a year round garden…but come September I suddenly get very lazy and complacent….and things die. =(

  307. the only wall I hit with gardening is the size of my ‘plot’!! I garden from a 3×6′ balcony and couldn’t be happier!

  308. I hit a wall in our current house after 3 years of planting a garden and watching the deer chomp it to bits. I finally got a 12 foot fence built in my yard and it’s been great fun the last two years. And, the deer don’t touch it!

  309. Like Gayla, I hit the metaphorical wall mid-Summer. By then my melons (which I love too much not to grow) take over the entire floor of my back deck, my cucumbers and tomatoes are all on the verge of outgrowing their stakes, and I just can’t escape my hose.

  310. This is my first real attempt at a garden so I’m hitting all kinds of walls. I’m so excited to have a garden this year that I have to stop myself from buying more plants to grow. If I buy more plants then I need more dirt, more containers and more space (And more work for me). Then there’s the realization that I can’t just grow anything in my garden. I purchased a couple melon plants and had to remove them after a month because it just doesn’t get hot enough where I live to grow them. Oh and there’s Earwigs, I’m trying out the vegetable oil traps.

    I wish I would have helped my mom with her garden when I was a kid. I would know so much more now but I’m learning.

  311. My wall would have to be when plants bolt- specifically cilantro! I still can’t figure out the balance of not too hot to quick… I would love to find a magical way to keep my cilantro edible for longer!

  312. I sometimes “hit the wall” when I find cigarette butts (from a non-gardening neighbor) or dog poop (from the dog of a dog-loving-but-not-poop-picker-upping neighbor) in my postage-stamp-sized front garden in Portland, Maine.

    But then I go out early on a beautiful spring morning, see the birds at the feeder and the columbines and lupines blooming, see all the purple flowers coming up at once, and the wall melts away.

    I really got into gardening about 17 years ago in San Francisco, when my daughter was a newborn and I had a stressful, full-time job. I tore up a long, rubbish-strewn patch at the side of my apartment building, hauled in soil amendments, and never looked back. I will always have a garden, even if it’s on a balcony or fire escape.

    (And I love both of your blogs, by the way. Thank you.)

  313. The biggest “wall” I hit is also not having enough time. And having recently (three years ago) moved to a completely different climate, I struggle with the limitations of my new climate. I haven’t gotten to the point where I can appreciate the good things about the pacific northwest climate yet.

  314. I don’t hit the gardening wall – it hits me! Here in Edmonton, that gardening wall is a rock hard, cold-blooded, rude winter situation. The long winters mean that I dream about gardening for 8 months and then only have a few to actually get things going. I feel sad that it’s so cold and that only the hardiest of plants grow here…so some of my dream garden members can’t reside in my beds. Garden wall…stay away…just for a few more months??

  315. Here in TN, the wall is the oppressive heat of the summer months, where it might be a few days until I actually get out and garden because it is so hot. We power through and are usually rewarded with plenty of tomatoes and other summer vegetables and fruits. I’ve garden through the pregnancy of two August babies. You just carry on and garden in the early, early morning!

  316. From the wind whipped balcony of my first apartment to the dry shade conditions of a giant maple, I have pulled my hair out many times. I have hit walls. But the wonderful thing about growing things is you can have as many second chances as you have growing seasons. I don’t hit walls anymore. I am so accustomed to things not going according to plan, they are no longer walls! They are part and parcel of what mother nature dishes. So what if there’s early blight on my fruiting tomato plants that I nurtured organically from seed on my windowsill. That’s life. I will learn something new. I will try something different next time. So I missed my window for planting strawberries, it’ll give me something new to try for next year. Okay, those peas needed more trellis to climb and are now falling over. Let’s see what happens. Just mark it in the journal. I will never let gardening become a chore. The garden is where I dream, admire my accomplishments, relax, and recharge. I take a longer view now, and recognize gardening is only enjoyable if I’m not too hard on myself.

  317. I was SO impressed with Margarets visit on the Martha Stewart Show yesterday that I got on the internet looking at “A Way to” I have been unemployed for the last year and became wrapped up in the website ALL the rest of the day. The next time I make Baked Beans, it is going to be the recipe you shared on the show. It sounded so scrumptious! I absolutely love to grow things and get such satisfaction out of their beauty. My issue is, I live in a townhome and have VERY little room and MANY containers. I would like to grow some container vegetables, but have not had much luck with them. I am going to go through both websites (Margarets along with Gayla’s and see what successes I will have. I know with your help, I will do better. I hope I really get the opportunity to win the books. I absolutely do not have the funds to purchase the books, but if I don’t win them on this go around, when I get back to work, I am going to be sure and make that one of my first purchases. You both be so proud of how you have reached out and went for what you really wanted in your lives. I am at a time in my life that I am trying to get the courage to do something I have always wanted to do, but at 61, I am struggling whether to take that chance so late in life. Thank you so much for making my day yesterday.

  318. Sometimes, I do. As in this spring when I could only do things on the weekends, and I kept putting in 5 and 8 hour days in my little container-only garden. I kept thinking, why am I doing this? This is so much work! And then I get it done and feel pride, and success at my small striving to make my little corner of the world a better place.

  319. I’d had a very big wall that kept me from doing much gardening for several years. Over the years I’ve lived with several people who were gardening “experts.” One or maybe two even had Master Gardener certificates. When they were living in our community, they pretty much did the gardening, and if I helped out, I was following their methods. And I can’t tell you how many different sets of rules for composting there were.

    Even when the garden became my own, I hesitated to do much, thinking I had to do it “right.”

    So the wall is now knocked down, and I’m enjoying experimenting with my neat container garden. Perhaps my garden good produce more food, maybe look neater and stuff like that. But for the last 3 years, I’ve looked forward to getting up in the morning to see what’s going on in my garden, enjoying having a variety of unusual containers, mostly that I’ve found on trash day. So yes, it is useful to have a certain amount of information, and more important to me, to enjoy my garden.

  320. This was a wonderful interview, and now i’ve added another book to the endless list. I haven’t hit the wall yet . . . i truly enjoy seeing things inch up imperceptibly day by day and week to week until there is fruit an flower. And always after, the reward and cleanup. It’s like throwing a monstrous seasonal dinner party!

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