Family life

Lessons learned from my family's garden

Fifty days into her gardening experiment, Jennifer Pinarski is surprised that the vegetables are growing better than the weeds.

rustic-garden Gardening in cottage country isn’t pretty. Photo: Jennifer Pinarski.

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

At the end of May, my daughter Gillian and I planted what I fondly call our red-neck vegetable garden. Inspired by what my father can do with a plot of rocky soil, and motivated by being able to teach our children more about how food is grown, I found the least poison ivy-infested space on our cottage country lot to start our family garden. We really didn’t have a lot of hope for any of the plants to take root or the seeds to germinate. So you can imagine our surprise when the first few pea shoots popped out of the ground (especially given the fact that Gillian stabbed them all higgly-piggly into a bag of soil with a stick). But here we are 50 days later with a few white blossoms and an improvised stick and twine trellis holding them up.

My gardening experience hasn’t gone smoothly so far. For example:

The raccoons ate all of the early zucchini flowers; that is, until I started leaving dog hair around the garden. The raccoons haven’t been back.

Deterred by the dog hair, the bears have eaten the rodenticide that was locked inside the bait stations (instead of the plants). I’m hoping that the bears have sore tummies and won’t be back to eat our vegetables.

Every time I try to stake our beefsteak tomato plant, the dog pulls the stick (and the plant) out of the ground. The tomato doesn’t seem to care.


We have the ugliest garden in town. This mishmash of logs will never be featured in Houzz and I doubt even Mother Earth News would want to see it. When you look at the picture, you can’t tell where the garden ends and the bush starts.

My kids love to water the garden by dumping buckets of water on the plants. And especially while it's raining.

The kids also scavenge the garden for worms to go fishing. I’m hoping there are still enough worms to help improve our soil.

Thinning out our overseeded carrots and beets is easier said than done. I feel guilty about pulling out those perfect little seedlings (what if one of them was going to grow up to be the most delicious beet ever?)

But I do think my bear problems and unphotogenic beds do prove the point I also wanted to make about backyard gardening — that it doesn’t have to be perfect or cost a lot of money.


Tell me about your backyard garden! Tweet me a picture (@jenpinarski). I’d love to see your garden!

This article was originally published on Jul 09, 2013

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