late bloomers : a surprise garden story

Once upon a time, I claimed to be “really good at gardening” with the giant disclaimer of “I just don’t know it yet” Which really translates to: “Just kidding if this gig doesn’t work out”


This was in late March/early April, where we lovingly gathered our offspring into our kitchen and ceremoniously planted oodles of little seedlings. We were all, “look at the seeds! Creation!” Determined for them to do well, we watched them grow.

I basically did everything but sing to them. I acclimated them to the weather, but that took a while, because of that twentieth cold snap. Next came the giant gnat infestation of 2013… and then the wrestling event in which the boys took out most of the cucumbers that were sitting out on our veranda floor. It felt as though someone had killed a family pet.

There were pictures of all these other peoples’ gardens on Facebook, and I would literally grasp my laptop, completely miffed as ours were still in the sproutlings stage, staring amazed at their green tufts of goodness. I’d now brought our garden back to life fifty times and I’d tried everything but a defibrillator. I’d point to the photos exclaiming to Jamin “These jokers have a garden!? They must have just bought a bunch of plants and stuck them in the ground. I call that cheating!” (Read: what I will do next year because this jazz is hard.)

Our little garden felt doomed and accusatory blaming made me feel better. I had deadlines to fulfill and aintnobodygottimefor babysitting a bunch of weeds. {Yeah, I was a little bitter}. But I wouldn’t quit. I tried to re-root them, and then planted even more seeds. I was starting to wonder what was wrong with us. So I planted them outside, watered and waited. Watered and waited…

Some people are all competitive and stuff. It really is so weird. 

It’s a good thing that we have long summers here in the south, because we finally have a real live garden.


Our little garden a late bloomer. Just like me.

It’s okay little garden. We all know that the great things in life are worth waiting for. Being a late bloomer can be a really good thing. They also tend to age well and look much younger, after struggling through looking like they were twelve in high school. Just saying someone totally thought I was twenty the other day and they were more than a decade off. Even though I am quite sure they weren’t paying attention, even though I had all three children with me, I will frequently remind the husbandly unit because that’s just one awesome claim to fame at this point in my sordid gardening life and I’m prepared to throw myself a party over it… score ;}



So to you, dear late blooming garden, hang in there. I think the carrots are even surviving in those boxes. Let’s just say I learned the hard way about which veggies not to plant next to each other. The cucumbers are pretty much taking over, and I didn’t use towers for my tomatoes. I’m jumping on the learning curve with my late blooming, non-assumptive garden.


I’m keeping an eye out for more of these little jerks. This one was relocated the other day. At first I was all, “Awe, a caterpillar!” And then I was all, “Ew, that’s bad. And he’s creeping me out because he’s fat and gross” and I refused to smush him because it a. felt mean and b. I’m still traumatized from a childhood caterpillar guts experience.

In other news, I’ve never been more thrilled to see a bumble bee on a flower. I’m all, thank you, little bumble bee. You enjoy that nectar and do your work with my little garden’s pollen. I heart you, bumble bee.

I’m this close to making some graphically nerdy gardening t-shirts.

Doesn’t it have the cutest little curls? Yes, I think my garden is cute.

It’s the little things.


The kids love it. And I’ve been keeping an eye out for some literal fruits of our labor, because I felt like I should be seeing them any day now. And then I spied it. I’ll never forget how rewarding it is to behold your first ever tomato.


I. Am. Not. A. Total. Failure.

Cue victory dance. This one was another combo of the Roger Rabbit + 80’s Snake in the middle of our yard for our neighbors to see.


There’s even this. And I’m pretty sure It’s not a weed, because it has a flower on it. Right?Actually, lots of weeds have flowers. I’m waiting to see what it does, anyway.

Even the weeds are pretty in my garden!


Look at the baby cucumber! It’s so cute! I had no idea that’s how they grew.


So, lessons learned already this year, for next…

The best way to do this the first time? Dive right in.


For starters, I think we’ll need a bigger bunch of garden boxes…

The kids are so excited. A nice little reminder as to why we went to all that trouble in the first place.

Grow well, little late bloomers!

The best things in life are worth waiting for.

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Responses to late bloomers : a surprise garden story

  1. Carla Stanley says:

    That little pale bluish tinted flower is a bean. Did you plant green beans?

  2. Janice says:

    Tomato hornworm! I had those my first year gardening… they destroyed all my tomatoes taking a big bite from each one. Definitely watch for more- they can blend well and be hard to spot. I am a chicken when it comes to bugs and they can really stick to the vines so I used loooong grilling tongs to pull them off :)

  3. Laura says:

    My mom had tomato hornworms on her plants last year. She tried to get myself and the children to help find them and pick them off. They were hidden so well that I accidentally put my hand on one! Ewwww! It still kinda makes me shudder when I think about it. I am so impressed with the beautiful living greenness you’ve achieved. Way to resuscitate!

  4. Patricia says:

    Just wanted to let you know that our garden is also a late bloomer and is nowhere near as pretty as yours. My poor cucumber and pumpkin plants are barely a foot tall. I’m still holding out hope that it will pick up- there’s still time the first frost here usually isn’t until Oct 21-31 and sometimes it’s not until mid November.

  5. LaTonya says:

    Hi Ashley. Thank you for the having the courage to jump into garden and sharing your adventures with us. I was wondering if you could also discuss the costs of starting a garden. I would love to have a garden because I think I would enjoy gardening (thanks for the reality check on how frustrating and difficult it can also be), I would like to eat healthier, and I will have certainty about where the veggies come from and how they are cared for. I also want to understand the dollars and cents aspect of gardening, specifically, how the cost of starting and maintaining a garden compares to going to the grocery store. How did the actual startup cost compare to your expectation (more expensive / less expensive / what you expected)? Do you think you’ll see any savings compared to how much you spend buying veggies at the grocery store or farmers market?

    • Hey LaTonya! With gardening, there’s the initial start up fee of dirt, and seeds. That’s it. It’s not a big investment. Just your time. We did garden boxes too, and that’s just the price of wood. {That link is above} It’s way cheaper than going to the store and buying all organic veggies. What it costs the most of, is your time. The main reason we did it, was for our children. It’s been a blast teaching them about God and the earth and how He provides, and they’ve really been impressed with it all and learned a lot. It’s been fun with them, and I’ve been so inspired by our little startup non-failure garden, we will do it again. And again. I plan to keep exposing them to these things until they try more. So we did it more for the experience, but (what we have done, our version) it’s not an expensive hobby, by any means. I hope that helps!

  6. Mindy says:

    There is nothing wrong with being a late bloomer – the point is you bloomed! I love your advise of just jumping in. Gardening is the best ever and the taste of the first tomato of the season cements it every single year : ) Best wishes with your continued gardening adventures!

  7. Heidi says:

    Ahhh! Love this. We have a late blooming garden, too, and we’re just figuring it out as it goes. Our neighbors keep bringing us beautiful tomatoes and zucchini and beans and…but we have had a few tiny tomatoes and just today we spied the beginnings a cucumber and two peppers! Good luck to y’all!

  8. Lori Hostetter says:

    I also have a childhood traumatic guts experience, although mine involved a huge rock and a slug. My brother and I thought it’d be neat to throw the rock on the slug to see what would happen. The rock bounced off the slug (guts and all) above my head and we ran away screaming. I was about 4.

  9. Belinda Aguirre says:

    You know, there are loads of blogs I can subscribe to…but then there are the good ones…the entertaining ones…like yours. I loved it when you first found the tomato–i was the SAME way. Thanks for all the hard work you do to keep up such a beautiful blog.

  10. Toni says:

    Thank you for reminding me how magical gardens are. Sometimes you just forget. I think I’ll go buy some organic fertilizer for the pumpkins tomorrow. They are looking a little pale.

  11. Jami Nato says:

    i got boobs when i was a senior in high school.
    the end.