One Man’s Perspective on Home Gardening


If you have been following along, you may have seen my recent review of the Troy-bilt electric garden cultivator. I wasn’t just tilling for the hell of it, or even for the sake of writing the review. Nope. I have a little vegetable garden, even though it’s one of my least favorite food groups. I grow them, but it’s my wife who enjoys them. I eat them, but I’m not going to lie and say I like it.

Of course, now you’re wondering why? Why would a guy who races motorcycles and cars, and does his own plumbing and roofing want to dig, water and pull weeds, especially when he doesn’t even like vegetables?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

I never made it past Webelos, but I still live by the Boy Scout motto of “Be prepared!” I approach gardening from the perspective that knowledge is power and who knows when you’ll need it. Sure things are okay right now–though economically and politically a little strained–but who knows? I’m sure folks thought things were going okay in 1928, too. You never know.

Our society seems to be in decent shape, but I’ve seen “Road Warrior” and “Waterworld” and too many other movies to think that it can’t all change in the blink of an eye. On the off chance this should happen, it would be nice to have a head start on growing food for the family.

Is the world going to end next week? No, I’m 99.9% sure of that. But growing vegetables sure seems like an easier and more economical way to be prepared then stockpiling guns, or building a bunker in the middle of Nebraska. Plus, there is the added benefit of home grown tomatoes, corn and more.

If you imagine that it has something to do with fending off the barbarian hordes, pulling weeds suddenly can be very cathartic.

Other than that, and perhaps on a more serious note, as I have said before I am a man of science. At least I like to think of myself as such. Therefore my garden is an exercise in experimental science.

How often and how much water does it need? What vegetables are suited to the lots of sun, little water climate of my back yard? How bad is San Fernando Valley clay for growing veggies?

The answer to those questions and more will hopefully be revealed after this season of growing. I will tell you one thing already, the amount of water needed in L.A. makes the thought of saving money by growing your own veggies ludicrous.

I learned last year that I wasn’t giving them enough water, so this year I set myself up with a long black drip irrigation hose that snakes around the entire garden. Now everything gets plenty of water–as long as I turn the hose on for 30 minutes a day.

Often times I forget and leave it on for over an hour, but the plants seem to love it. The five stalks of corn I have may not be as tall as an elephant’s eye, but they are up to mine.

They have a fuller head of hair coming in than me, too.

The Japanese cucumbers are crawling up the fence like they want to climb out, and little pencil sized cukes are starting to appear. One of my tomato plants is going on its third summer of producing tomatoes. The other ones are looking good too, and the cherry tomatoes are growing with the military precision of a West Point class. I also have a variety of bell peppers, and several kinds of lettuce.

Not in the garden but elsewhere in the yard are a couple of blueberry bushes also. They produced a few berries last year, but I need to build bird proof cages around them. Yesterday while sitting and enjoying a beer in the yard after mowing it, I saw a bird reach right through the dog proof chicken wire and make off with a berry. It wasn’t even ripe enough to eat yet.

Hopefully all my lost berries will lead to bird droppings with seeds in them landing in the gardens of neighbors. Nothing nicer than an edible volunteer appearing in your yard one summer with little to no effort.

What are you guys growing?

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  1. PunchYourself

    3 years ago

    Here’s a thought for the blueberry bushes… short strips of aluminum foil. It’s what the vineyards use to keep birds from picking the grapes off their vines. Maybe if you tie some to some of the branches, the reflection of light will blind them and cause them to go somewhere more lucrative…like the Ralph’s parking lot.

  2. ChuckG

    3 years ago

    I’m growing tumble weeds and they are spawning. Too many jack rabbits, critters, dry desert land to grow outdoors. I did however grow tomatoes a time back. I was pitiful. One year I sprouted one tomato. My thumb is not green, I think it’s a geeky thumb for electronics.

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