The “Fruits” of My Labor

ScarecrowI have built a vegetable garden, in some form, at nearly every home I’ve lived in as an adult. They have taken many forms – big and small, in raised beds and in rows – but no matter their size or shape, I’ve always loved starting with literally nothing, creating something and then watching it grow.

And I’ve had fun with the gardens in other ways too. I used to live in a corner house with a nice size front/side yard. There, in addition to building a vegetable garden, I created a new “lady” scarecrow every year. It became something of an urban garden for the neighborhood, with people stopping by on walks with their dogs or babies to see how the garden was growing. It was so sweet!

Some of my previous attempts at a vegetable garden
Some of my previous attempts at a vegetable garden

Garden QuoteIf you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen I’ve been busy building my newest creation … the third take on a vegetable garden at my current house (which just goes to show you, nothing in the garden needs to be forever).  With this version, I was determined to have something that was not only beautiful, but also would produce something that, despite all my attempts, I’ve never mastered – a great tomato! I’ve always wanted to grow tomatoes like my Aunt Millie did in North Carolina … tomatoes with real homegrown flavor. If you’ve ever had one, you know what I mean!

To help me achieve this goal, I did some online research and found an amazing resource at Gardenerd. Please check out this site! It offers so much information, and the best part is you can email them and ask for advice. Because I’m in L.A. and the people who run the site are nearby, they made a house call and helped me fine tune my plan. For instance, she gave me a great tip for the tomatoes – add 1tbsp of Epson salt and 1tbsp of organic vegetable fertilizer in the hole – and so far, everything looks good! (click here for another neat Garden tip.)

Garden in progress
From planning to planting … my garden in progress

Once I had my plan, I used newspapers and kitchen flour to literally lay out what I wanted. Then, I called a handyman friend of mine and, together, we built the garden.  While it was underway, I searched far and wide for a fountain to serve as my focal point. The whole project was hard work for a few weeks, but now that the it’s done, I am so pleased and can’t wait to enjoy (and hopefully share) the fruits of my labor. (Click here to see a short Making of My Garden video.)

Garden Before & After

GrowingIn just the few weeks since completion, the garden has taken off – I’ve got five different kinds of tomatoes, yellow and red bell peppers, hot peppers, beets, kale, spinach, chard, romaine, cucumbers, green beans, squash, pumpkins, herbs, strawberries, cantaloupe and watermelon. (Christy at Gardnerd told me to divide the beds in 1′ squares and each square gets a different plant. You can really plant a lot that way!) My favorite part so far is going out and cutting romain, chard and spinach leaves to make a fresh salad. There’s nothing going bad in my fridge!

I know that starting a project like this can be intimidating, especially if you’re not a seasoned gardner. But, you can always start simple. And like me, you’ll learn best by trial and error. Either way, I hope you’ll try planting something – trust me, the rewards are so sweet!

PS – I love talking with other people who gardner – it’s a great way to get tips and ideas. This week, I was on set (at ABC Family’s Chasing Life) and the make-up artist, Ann, shared with me her passion for organic gardening. I think what she’s trying this season is so cool that I asked her to share it with you. (Click here to see Ann’s “Three Sisters” video.)


  1. Tomato vines are one of a handful of common garden residents whose fruit to plant size ratio is heavier than average, leading to an even higher likelihood of magnesium-deficiency. For this reason, tomatoes should be fed Epsom salt twice as often as other plants. Also, because tomato vines are prone to calcium-deficiency (blossom end rot), the majority of tomato fertilizers contain calcium which will compete with magnesium for root absorption. Therefore, foliar feeding is the more efficient method for delivering magnesium to these plants. Water tomato vines with dissolved Epsom salt – 2 tablespoons per gallon of water, every 2 weeks.

  2. Aww, Mary Beth, this put a smile on my face. My dad was an avid gardener! Wish I’d inherited his green thumb.

  3. Patricia K

    Hi Mary Beth

    I truly love gardening as well. Here up in the middle of Canada we have long winter in the prairies and unfortunately our growing season isn’t too long… normally it is June to early September. I plant a garden ever year and I know what you mean …there is nothing like fresh organic vegetables. Especially after having a winter of just eating store bought veggies.

    The tip with the tomatoes is very interesting. I have never heard of putting Epson salt in with fertilizer in the planting whole. I will definitely try that. I am curious if the Epson salts also help with getting rid of cut worms.

    I love your creativity and your tradition with making a scarecrow every year. So cool.
    Your garden and backyard is truly beautiful and love the water fountain. Almost like you have your own garden of Eden.

  4. Mary Beth,
    As always thank you for sharing with all us fans! I love hearing you talk about your garden and seeing all the ways that you do things with your garden! I’m from Alabama so you know us people in the south & our gardens!…lol I grew up helping my dad every year with our garden and your so right, there is nothing like the taste of a good ol fresh homegrown tomatoe..Like you, I’m so looking forward to seeing everything grow and cannot wait to taste that first tomatoe! Can’t wait to see you post more pics once everything starts growing! And once again thanks for sharing!

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