When Did You Start Gardening?

When did you start gardening?

I started gardening, in a way, two score and eight years ago, when at the age of two my mother caught me with my hands in a bag of fertilizer. Family legend has it that she cleaned me up and put me down for a nap, then called the doctor who said to wake me up to make sure I wasn’t turning blue and was still breathing.

Although my mother was a bit reluctant to do so, because you know what they say about sleeping babies, she did it, and I was fine.

I’ve been gardening ever since the fertilizer incident, graduating from digging in the dirt with an old kitchen spoon to having a trug full of digging tools at my disposal, not to mention a large assortment of hoes.

In between the fertilizer incident and now, I have many memories, good memories, of gardening with my Dad, studying horticulture at Purdue University, and eventually gardening in my own gardens.

Growing up, I always helped my Dad in early spring plant peas and onions, then later plant beans and tomatoes and other summer crops. I loved going to greenhouses and garden centers to buy roses or tomatoes, or the red geraniums my Dad always planted in a long box on the front porch.

I loved it when he would give me and my siblings our own little garden plots, probably just a few feet wide, to grow our own flowers in. I’m sure I probably lost interest as the summer wore on, but it was exciting, as I recall, to do my own planting.

And it is still exciting to do my own planting, though I don’t tend to lose interest as much as I did when I was six.

Each gardener has their own story of when they started gardening. For some, it is a childhood story like mine, for others it is a more recent event. But it doesn’t really matter when you personally started gardening; whether five minutes ago or five decades ago. You are a gardener from the very minute you figure out that you love gardening.

So when did you start gardening and become a gardener?


  1. I started gardening when I was very small, my dad always let me pick out my own seeds and he let me have a little patch of my own. Usually I did poppies, radishes, and bachelor buttons, the easy stuff. I have always had my hands in the dirt, I gave up on my fingernails looking pretty long ago.

  2. I also began gardening as a child. When I was 5, my mom designated a stone container on our back patio as mine, and every year I got to grow whatever I wanted in that container. I haven't stopped ever since!

  3. Unless you count thinning the carrots for mum occasionally and squishing the fuschias then I started about a year ago, aged 28 - a late bloomer I guess you'd say (pun probably intended)

  4. A fun question Carol! I posted my answer here...http://growingagardenindavis.blogspot.com/

  5. I always "had" to help my Mom pull weeds, mow etc. Then when I was 18 I had my first pot of white impatients on the porch of my first home. I have been gardening ever since.

  6. My parents always had a garden but all I remember about that is picking the beans, the peas, the cukes, the tomatoes, etc. Didn't start my own gardening until age 30and very distinctly remember never believing the information on the plant tags. Always thought I was smarter. I learned a lot from all my mistakes. Fun post and fun comments.

  7. I started gardening in college...with indoor plants of course they were hanging from macrame
    hangers! I brought dozens of my potted plants in the rental truck when I moved to Nashville. But, it wasn't until we bought our first home that I started a garden. gail

  8. Gardening was something I grew up around too. My grandmother always had a large vegetable garden every year. She also grew the prettiest Roses, Glads, Irises and annuals. Once I bought my first home it didn't take long for me to start doing the same thing. It seemed natural somehow. :)

  9. I don't remember the exact age. We always had a veggie garden and from the time I can remember doing things, I was helping weed and harvest it. I helped my grandma most years with her tilling and harvesting along with all the other grandkids. And when I was about 13 my dad graduated me to full garden partner! I helped him plan and plant the family veggie garden.

    Even once out on my own I have obsessed about gardening and grew one when I could -- even in containers. I only grew vegetables for the longest time since flowers seemed so impractical. Now, with my value placed in stress relief rather than food, my flower garden is 10x bigger than my entire veggie garden!

  10. Early in our marriage we bought a house on 3 acres. My city friends thought I lived in the country. My country friends thought I lived in the suburbs. I never had so much space, so out of self defense I signed up for Master Gardner's. Now, I'm out side every chance be I get.

  11. Hi there Carol :-)

    Great question – I started at age ten. Being of fair skin I would seek the shade of a tree in my garden whilst my younger siblings played in the sun and my parents relaxed in it. One warm sunny day, for some unknown reason, I asked my Dad if I could move his rock garden from one end of the lawn to the other. I sold it as it would give him a bigger area for his car :-) He agreed and left me to it.

    I don’t recall having anything to do with plants or stone before this and we had only had a garden for just a couple of years then. Plants and gardens really were an unknown to me. I was now happy to be out with my family and didn’t seem to notice the sun as much. I got such a buzz out of deciding where to position the stones and plants and have never stopped feeling this since!!

    Gosh… you had quite a different hands on start ;-)

  12. I like many others, grew up around a parent with a love for gardening. I have always had flowers/plants no matter where I lived be an apartment full of house plants are a home with a yard to work in. I have only been working in the yard I have now for about 5 years. I would love to be a real gardener one day, for now, I'm just a lover of plants.

  13. Hi Carol.

    I too had a mother that gardened. I have been gardening at my present home for four years. For 38 years I had almost all sunny sites. Now I have all shade sites so I am learning to garden again. I have a new blog site so please stop by to smell the roses. stellastarlight.blogspot.com

  14. Hi Carol;

    My dad moved us to Vermont from the NY shore when I was five and it was a more dramatic experience than just losing the ocean and not finding anyone here who knew what pizza was.

    My dad started vegetable gardens right away as a means of survival because Vermont was in a depression and times were very tough. My sister and I spent a lot of time with two farm ladies down the road and they taught us vegatables and flowers, maple sugaring and keeping an orchard tidy and boutiful. I remember all too well digging what seemed like tons of potatoes for winter use, loading the wheelbarrow with hubbard, acorn, butternut, buttercup and pink banana squash, and going back through deep snows to bring in brussel sprouts to eat (not a favorite for me back then!)

    The farm ladies flower gardens included sweet peas that smelled ever so fragrant as well as zinnias and asters that seemed to appear in all farm gardens back then. All this set the stage for a gardening experience that has brought me to owning a nursery for over twenty years now. I always try to encourage people who visit with kids to get/keep them involved. Years back I did a large institutional garden for a prison setting and a production garden as a summer youth project to keep some kids with not so good ideas out of trouble for a while. Gardening is a proven therapy for everyone and each of us needs to promote it. Right now I am looking for the right person to manage a couple acre vegetable garden which I hope will serve as a demonstration garden for the public while rasing vegetables for our local food shelf. For me, gardening has been a great way to manage the woes of the world and also help others.

    George Africa
    The Vermont Gardener
    Vermont Gardens
    Vermont Flower Farm

  15. There are photos of me in the small vegetable garden that show me as a very cute (if I do say so myself) child of about 2. There are also photos from that same age range that show me vacuuming.

    I suppose that's when I started gardening (I also loved growing radishes even though I hated the taste of them and I was enchanted by worms). But I think I became a gardener when I filled the entire patio of our apartment with containers. That's when my husband to be suggested that we better find a place with some land so I could unleash the gardener within.

    Every year I consider myself more and more a gardener. Last year I took the Master Gardener's course and learned so much more.

    So the gardening stuck. The love for vacuuming, not so much.

  16. I love this memoir, Carol. I wish I could tell you when I started gardening, but I don't remember having an aha moment. As a young child, I always helped my mother planting potatoes--that's my first memory--as well as other vegetables, then picking green beans in mid-summer and snapping them all as she canned and canned.

    Somewhere along the way, I decided that gardening was boring (please, no nasty e-mails!), and it took me many years to get back to it. It's been 7 or 8 years ago that I realized planting perennial beds made much more sense than re-doing annuals in beds every spring. By the time we moved to this house 5 years ago, which really needing some landscaping, I had caught the gardening bug, and now it's a full-fledged obsession.

    Never ask an English teacher for a short answer:)

  17. My parents owned a small dairy farm east of Cleveland in a town called Geneva. A huge vegetable garden called me from the time I could pull weeds..and I continue to this day. Fond memories of taking cow patties and putting them in buckets, filling them up with water and then watering the veggies. At that age, those tomatoes reminded me of trees!

  18. When I was "knee-high to a grasshopper ", Carol. After intensive training by my farmer father I took responsibility of the vegetable garden at age 10. This was in addition to my summer job of hoeing and harvesting cotton, corn and peanuts. As you can imagine I was busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

    So when you were in my garden and looking for the tomatoes you found 2 lonely ones in the corner. While I love veggies, I just don't have the time or space to grow them , but I do my best to support the local farmers who do.

    Great post.

  19. LIke many I don't remember not gardening. It was just what you did, I was always at my grandmothers side whether it was weeding the huge vegetable garden, picking raspberries ot tomatoes,or making chili sauce or root beer. I loved most the time in her flower borders (no annuals those were in the vegetable garden) with her old roses, poppies, peonies, lily-of-the-valley and all the other wonderful fragrant flowers.

  20. for a few years now i've had some sort of garden going, but i wasn't raised by gardeners so never really was interested...until a couple years ago. i don't know what happened, but something clicked in me and now i'm obsessed..hah! i love being out there in the dirt, learning about the new plants, figuring out lighting, watering, fertilizing. my perennial beds are starting to really take off and i think my meager veggie attempts will pay off as well. i'm all about building some raised beds by august for the fall crop and to expand the gardening space..:)

    it's really just been this year that i think i feel like a gardener. a newbie one, but a gardener none-the-less..:)

  21. I'm a new gardener -- I just started last fall. For much of my life I lived with a single mom raising three girls, living in rentals, and moving a lot. I don't ever recall my mom gardening, though she has really enjoyed it since her marriage to a wonderful handyman some 20+ years ago. But I didn't have the benefit of being introduced to it as a child, so it took awhile to find my love of gardening. But I'm here to stay!

  22. It was the mid-70s, during my sophomore or junior year at Rice. I started growing houseplants in my room because I had west facing windows. I know I had hanging baskets of wandering jew and purple velvet plant but I did not indulge in macrame hangers. My graduation gift from my college boyfriend was a huge ficus tree which I lugged around through several moves. When I moved to Hawaii, I gave it to the law firm where I worked. From 1980 until the early 1990s, I had only a few houseplants. A neighbor with a green thumb got me interested in gardening and when we moved to this house, interest became an obsession. I intend to remain obsessed for the rest of my life!

  23. My parents never showed an interest in gardening. My maternal grandmother had some flowers growing in her yard and I vaguely remember some vegetable plants. I guess the way I became interested enough to actually go to college and earn a Bachelor's in Ornamental Horticulture was that when I was a kid I always enjoyed the sections in science class where you grew plants from seed and learned about photosynthesis. The University of Illinois has (at the time I attended anyway) an excellent Horticulture Department. One of the teachers, Dianne Noland, was so enthusiastic about perennials and herbs that it was contagious! I even took two floral design classes because she taught them!

  24. It's amazing really that I garden at all, considering how I hated being dragged to Flowerwood in Crystal Lake as a child, staring at endless rows of stinky Petunias, waiting for my mom to pick out what she wanted to plant. I spent a lot of that time looking at the fountains, wishing I could go swimming instead.

  25. Such wonderful stories of when we all became gardeners! Thanks to all who responded with comments. If you decide to post your answer on your own blog, let me know via a link in the comments here.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  26. As a kid, my mother used to make me weed in her garden. I hated it, so I don't think that counts. I became a gardener when we bought our first house. That was almost 22years ago. Now, it's a major part of my identity.


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