Garden Song, Inch by Inch...

“Inch by inch, row by row…”

Am I the last one to learn about this song? Did everyone else know about it? I don’t know how I missed this garden song all this time, I just did. But I've discovered it now!

Here are the lyrics:

Garden Song by David Mallett
©1978 Cherry Lane Music Publishing Co. Inc. ASCAP

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground

Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
Till the rain comes tumblin' down

Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones
Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
'Cause the time is close at hand

Grain for rain, sun and rain
Find my way in natures chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music from the land

Plant your rows straight and long
Temper them with prayer and song
Mother Earth will make you strong
If you give her love and care

An old crow watching hungrily
From his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I'm as free
As that feathered thief up there.

Then I looked for this song on YouTube and found several versions

John Denver with The Muppets:

Pete Seeger:

Arlo Guthrie:

Arlo has some of his own lyrics for the "anti-garden":

Slug by slug, weed by weed
Boy this garden's got me t'd
All the insects come to feed
On my tomato plants

Sunburnt face, skinned up knees
The kitchen's chocked with zuchinnis
I'm shopping at the A&P's
Next time I get the chance

Makem & Clancy:

And finally the songwriter, David Mallet Trio:

Which is your favorite version? I kind of like the John Denver version because of those singing flowers.

Oh, and if you find yourself humming this song over and over now, don't blame me.

"Inch by inch, row by row... All it takes is a rake and a hoe..."
"Inch by inch, row by row... All it takes is a rake and a hoe..."
"Inch by inch, row by row... All it takes is a rake and a hoe..."


  1. Oh yes, I learned that song many years ago with John Denver and I teach it whenever I present a gardening workshop to kids. There is a very nice picture book with the song as well.

  2. By the way, if you like John Denver and the Muppets, try the song Grandma's Feather Bed. It's one of my favorites.

  3. Well that just made my day. Love the John Denver muppet version. I miss that show.

  4. Argh, I was planning to post the Arlo Guthrie one to MY blog! He must be a gardener: he knows about zucchini!

    What's A&Ps?

  5. I am a big John Denver fan so it has to be John's version. What I was thinking when I read the title was...

    Inch by inch row by row,
    there goes Carol with her hoe...

  6. Chookie, Yes, post that video to your blog! A&P was the name of a chain of grocery stores that is now out of business.

  7. The Muppet Show was a mainstay in my house! Of course we know Inch by Inch.

  8. Oh, I like Lisa's verse suggestion! I didn't listen to all of them but I like Arlo's extra lyrics. Right now, I've got some inching along to do in my own garden!

  9. I like the John Denver version because he's with the Muppets, and they're the best. I loved the singing Delphiniums, or were they blue Foxgloves?

  10. I have a Pete S version with additonal verses also. I'll have to see if I can find it. I think he attributes them to someone else. Really brings it full circle. Something about when I'm gone (ie the gardener), put me in the compost pile.... then something about when you are eating your carrots, there I am again! (all in rhyme etc.) That was my first exposure to this song. Happened to be somewhere last week where we sang it though. Glad you found it! Thanks for sharing the versions. I alway enjoy A.G., too.

  11. Fabulous, Carol! I've got to vote for Pete for his 90th birthday this year.

  12. How fun, Carol! My kids sang this song in preschool, and it's always been one of my favorites (along with "Peace Like a River") I never knew all the verses though! Great to see the different versions too.

  13. Great minds think along the same lines, Carol. You must've missed my recent post of July 1 on the same subject. I had actually selected John Denver's version out of all the rest.

    I'm not blaming you, just sayin'- I can't get that tune outta my head :-)

  14. A&P, like the lyrics to this great song, are alive and well.

    Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. A&P is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

    Now, collectors of everything A&P can rejoice, since a collection of tin container gift items can be purchased at their local A&P, SuperFresh or Waldbaum's in the NorthEast.

  15. I've long known this song. One of the most moving renditions was at a memorial service for a young teacher - her 1st grade students sang. They grow inch by inch, too, and need lots of tending.


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