Gardening for Chumps: The Theme Song

Sometimes it pays to have friends in high places- the kind of friends who invite you to a pool party at Shaquille O’Neils house, or who use their magical lawyer powers to get that pesky DUI charge dropped. I, on the other hand, don’t have friends who invite me to party with Puff Daddy in a hot tub, or who get my speeding ticket dropped from that time I may or may not have been doing 77 in a 50.

My friends hook me up with even better things. In fact, I think that I have the most talented friends around, and generous, too. Take, for example, my friend Benjamin Elliott*.

He wrote this song for us at Gardening for Chumps, and I hope it makes you as happy as it makes me.

If you happen to have the kind of friends who invite you to party with the stars, please play this song for Puff Daddy next time you’re in a hot tub with him. I bet “P.Diddy” is always looking for the next hot talent.

Thank you, Ben! You, Sir, are a man worth knowing.

*(You can check out some of Ben’s newest stuff at his SoundCloud page, and other neat stuff at his YouTube page or his MySpace page)


Feeling Grateful

Those who dwell among the beauties
And the mysteries of earth
Are never really alone
Or weary of life


– Rachel Carson, American biologist and environmental activist

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

My kind friend Maxie watered my garden for a week while I was away. Thanks to her help, my garden survived that Stage 2 drought. But even Maxie’s sweet sweet Garden Whispering couldn’t save it from a barrage of pest ridiculousness. As I surveyed the damage, I wanted to hammer out a little Ball of Rage post about how stupid Nature is being. But then I realized that no one’s going to read this thing if I always sound like some kind of sullen pre-teen. After all, if I had a penny for every time I de-friended someone on Facebook for posting status updates that make me want to call the Waa Waa Waambulance, I’d have enough money to buy a box of Pop Tarts.

So here it is: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…



My Sweet Peas look like a bunch of hippies

After weeks of exposure and extreme gross negligence, my 10 asparagus roots got planted. I had assumed they were way past dead. SURPRISE SURVIVAL! These beauties keep popping up like little presents. I’m trying not to step on them, but I am bad at sports (i.e. most forms of coordination), so no promises.

No new cases of wilting tomatoes! Plus, the wilted one that I left is miraculously still making a delicious tomato. Thanks, Wilty.


We had abandoned all hope of enjoying our summer squash after the invasion of the vine borers, but we came home to 3 chewable-sized treats.

Would you believe it?! The zucchini survived the squash vine borer and subsequent borer-removal surgery (on the left). What resilient and forgiving plants.


RETURN OF THE VINE BORERS. While one of my zucchini plants is thriving post-surgery, its buddies were looking a little bit sucky (see the previous picture, right). Closer inspection showed that the little buggers were back… or were missed the first time. Since they were already damaged, this second shot at cutting open the stem to pluck out the grubs severed the plants from their main root systems. I buried the stumps in compost and crossed my fingers. LESSON LEARNED: If you’re cutting open to get at squash vine borer, you might as well be thorough the first time even if it means risking unnecessary damage to the plant. Likely, more borers than you think are hiding in the stem and you will only have to cut it open again later.

The dreaded cucumber beetle is all up in my grill. Don’t be fooled by the fancy stripes, this guy is NOT cool or fun. More on this later.

(THIS JUST IN: I now reign victorious over the cucumber beetles! Click here for the update)

Now, I’m no food critic, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to eat these tomatoes. They look like they got into a laser fight while I was gone. Since I left, they’ve developed open, black-rimmed scars on their undersides. More on this later, too.

(THIS JUST IN: the laser-tomato problem is called Catfacing! Click here for the update)



It’s Getting Rather Lush Around Here!

Hello, friends. I hope your projects are all coming along well. Here are some shots from around the garden today:

Chewable-pea trellis made from bamboo and willow sticks. Sweet pea trellis made from everyday average run-of-the-mill sticks.

One of the few (so-far) survivors of the Tomato Wilt Apocalypse. More on that later.

Morning glories making their way to the roof

These cucumbers have done more physical activity climbing this makeshift trellis than I have since 2006.

Check out this future pickle

SURPRISE ZUCCHINI (the surprise being that they were supposed to be cucumbers)

The side border of our yard with the salad box

The window sill over our kitchen sink

the courgette plant is not moving into the house unless it starts paying rent

This is why I am late for work every day


I have not posted lately, because we finally got to move in and hence I was getting my toil on in a big way. But before I blow your mind with how much toiling went on, let me first remind you all of the barren wasteland I started with:


Now check it out, after much manual labour and justified carb-eating in-between:


I am so pleased with it. Apparently, so are all of the local woodland creatures. It appears as though the raccoons from my old place sent them the memo that I was moving, and they all decided to host the annual Chew Convention in our backyard. But that’s a topic for another post.

Fortunately, my preference for a natural aesthetic goes well with my cheapo ways. Almost everything you see here was salvaged, repurposed, borrowed, bought used, transplanted from friends, grown from seed, or made by hand. I feel proud about that.

Now, just so you all can fully appreciate it, here is the yard minus the big chump and a bunch of words:

Behold the cheapo beauty

I would like to say THANK YOU to the much-loved Paul for the help this weekend, to mum and Andrew for carting over their wood chippings for mulch, and to my partner Gabe for his contribution to the whole affair (as pictured below):

Gabe’s Grunt Work

… OK, OK- in all fairness, Gabe painted almost the entirety of the inside of the house so that we no longer have to look at walls that are School Bus Yellow, Pumpkin Orange, Diarrhea Brown and Whatever  Shade of Purple This Is:

Thank you to Gabe for painting the house instead of gardening so that this-coloured walls no longer put me into a state of rage