How I spent my summer: Our new vegetable garden

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So my big project for this summer was to build a vegetable garden for my wife. For some guys, building a vegetable garden might be a four-hour affair. For me, it took most of the summer.

All so that my wife could grow a bunch of food that’s really, really good for me, but that I really, really don’t like.

My wife is a fantastic gardener, and our home is surrounded by beautiful, colorful plants with names like “hydrangea,” “clematis” and “bushes.” We also have something called “phlox,” and I’m serious – that’s the actual name of it. I looked it up.

I know that “phlox” sounds like a disease that you might get from drinking the water in Mexico, but it’s actually a flower. I know, I know – I was shocked, too.

For all her beautiful gardens, though, until this year, Kathy has never had a vegetable garden. She’s always wanted one, but for various reasons – most notably a husband who was too lazy to build one for her – she’s never had one.

This spring, though, her lazy husband finally agreed to build her a vegetable garden. She decided that it should be a big one – big enough to grow lots of green beans and zucchini and squash (oh, yum…) – which meant that the Great Garden Builder of Gregory (that would be me) had a lot of rototilling to do.

So first, we killed the grass, which took a couple weeks, since the grass didn’t want to die. We apparently have some very tough grass at our house. We have the Chuck Norris of grass – you just can’t kill it.

Eventually, though, the green grass turned brown, and then the rototilling began. Have you ever wondered how much fun it would be to rototill a patch of hard ground that’s roughly 40 feet by 60 feet? Have you? Well, let me tell you, it’s a blast. Yes, sir, it’s a riot. It’s just about as much fun as pounding yourself in the forehead with a hammer.

It took me two full days to chop up the ground – two full days of arm-shattering fun and excitement. By the time I was done, my forearms looked like Popeye’s after about 24 cans of spinach. I was ripped.

Next up – the manure.

You need a bunch manure to make your vegetable garden really swing, and thankfully, we have two horses at our house that are aces when it comes to producing manure. That’s pretty much all they do. They stand around and churn out the manure. All day and all night.

So we were quickly able to get several loads of their creations, and I rototilled all of that into the garden, too. Then came the peat. My wife had determined that our soil was a little heavy, so we needed to mix in some peat. Which meant MORE rototilling! Oh, joy!

After all that was done, we were ready to put in the fence. Kathy had decided that we should erect a very cute-looking split-rail fence around the garden, which meant that someone had to dig about 12 holes in the ground for the fence posts. And by “someone,” I mean “me.”

Now, a lesser man would have gone out and rented a post-hole digger to dig these holes. But not me. No, sir. I decided that if I was going to build this garden by hand, then I was truly going to build it by hand. And that meant no help from any power equipment, thank you very much.

Which turned out, of course, to be a very stupid decision on my part. What could have been a half-hour job had I rented a post-hole digger turned into a full-day-and-then-some job. During which time I got even MORE muscles that I never knew my body possessed.

In any case, after about four weeks of killing grass and rototilling grass and mixing in manure and digging holes and putting up fences, we FINALLY had ourselves a vegetable garden! Ta-da!

I also put up some screen fencing to keep the rabbits out, and after much debate, we decided not to put up an electrical wire up top to keep the deer away. We know it’s taking a risk, but we figure the garden is just too small for any deer to hop into.

* * NOTE TO ANY DEER OR DEERS (WHICHEVER IS GRAMATICALLY CORRECT) OUT THERE WHO MIGHT BE READING THIS: I was just kidding about that last part. Ha ha! There really IS an electrical line on the top of the fence, and if you come anywhere close to it, you’ll be toasted like a piece of Wonder bread.

In any event, after all of this was done, my wife was finally able to plant her much-dreamed-about vegetable garden. She was in heaven.

Me? Not so much. I had asked her to plant some foods that I might like – such as Reese’s Cup plants and Cap’n Crunch plants and Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait plants – but she decided instead to go with zucchini and beans and all of that. Oh, well.

The results so far have been mostly encouraging. Her zucchinis are doing gangbusters. We have some of them that are as big as a Buick. The beans are also coming in nicely, and so are the tomatoes. She isn’t happy with her raspberries, and she lets them know it.

As for me, I’m just happy that for at least a few more weeks, my rototilling days are over.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go lie down. I’m not feeling very well. I’m not sure, but I think I might have a case of phlox.

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About Buddy Moorehouse 119 Articles
Longtime Livingston County journalist Buddy Moorehouse is director of communications at the Michigan Association of Public School Academies.