Overheard on CNN.com: Crafty gardeners persist despite climate, pests, limited space
Sometimes gardening can be a challenge, and CNN.com readers shared their own strategies for getting things to grow.
March 30th, 2012
08:23 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Crafty gardeners persist despite climate, pests, limited space

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Gardening season is here again. Eatocracy Managing Editor Kat Kinsman wrote an article arguing that there are no excuses why you can't garden, and outlined some ideas. Readers in turn told us ways they overcame difficulties in their yards and pots.

This is the year you garden

Some readers overcame geographic challenges.

Charlotte: "Had a Valencia orange tree growing in my living room for fourteen years in Fairbanks, Alaska. It CAN be done. I was rather surprised, actually. I was eating an orange one day and spitting the seeds into the trash. Looked into the bottom of the trashcan and said to myself 'Hmmm, wonder if they'll grow?' So I put them in a pot with old potting soil and sure enough they sprouted and I got orange trees. Kind of spindly and leggy at first but once I got into the habit of hauling it out onto the deck in the summers, it filled out beautifully. So educational. Before this, I didn't know that citrus grow really big thorns, LOL!"

The same reader suggested consulting the wisdom of the crowd if you need anything.

Charlotte: "Don't forget FreeCycle or equivalent! If you want seeds or seedlings, post an ad on your local freecycle, or put up a note with the little fringes on the bottom w/ your phone number, on a community bulletin board. Say you want to get into gardening and can't afford seeds or seedlings and can any local gardeners help get you started. You will be overwhelmed by the response. I never have room to plant all the seeds in packets I buy and many plants come up in my garden as volunteers year after year. If someone wanted them, I'd be delighted to share rather than throwing away or throwing onto the compost heap!"

There were people who have to grow in small spaces, but they make it work.

StevenR: "I am in Wisconsin and have a small yard. I put rosemary, chives, sage and edible lavender in pots last spring. On the winter solstice I brought them inside and they started growing like mad. Since then I planted white onions and cilantro in pots and am about to put in peppers, thyme and oregano. I still need some tomato seeds and plan to put them in one of those upside-down planters among my flowering hanging baskets. Even though it only was in for about a month, I have been using the cilantro every four days or so. I cut the top inch off everything (it is in an 18-inch clay pot) and have enough for the meal. Four days later the leaves have grown back up and are ready for another harvest. The only concern is that I wanted to let it go to seed so I could have some coriander and more seeds for the next crop and if I keep cutting it I don't know if it will generate seeds."

If the soil isn't in your favor, there are things you can do, as some noted.

Cindy: "When you think of the desert in phoenix you think brown ... not in my back yard. I use soil right in the bag. I take a two-cubic-foot bag of dirt, cut a rectangle in the top, poke drainage holes in it and plant right in the bag. It smothers the weeds underneath. And my favorite is kiddie pools. Take a knife and poke drain holes. Right now my two pools are loaded with beets, lettuce, parsley, cabbage and carrots. I even grew corn in it last year. Phoenix has very poor and brick-hard soil, so gardening on top of it in the bags and pools is a no brainer and I can feed my neighbors too!"

pensimmon: "Kiddie pools! Great idea. I have two old ones. I will definitely use them. I already have a 12ft x 12ft veggie garden, so using the pools will allow even more fantastic veggies! Thanks for the tip!"

And then, there were some who had to deal with creatures who also wanted their gardens.

JainaJade: "I did a garden last year but only my herbs survived the crazy heat and a friendly little ground hog. Fingers crossed that my new bee-friendly but ground hog discouraging netting will work and I'll have some tomatoes and squash to go with the basil!"

Pests can be a big problem for gardeners.

Bailey: "Here is my challenge ... I live in a rural area. I have the space, dirt and will to grow a big garden. I am an organic, natural freak. And I also have all manner of deer, beetles, rabbits, squirrels, birds, racoons, possums, dogs, cats and anything else mammal that can get into my garden. Pray tell ... how do I get rid of this dilemma that tears up my labor before I get to reap the fruits?!"

pensimmon: "OK - I live in a rural area full of the same pesky creatures: slugs and Japanese beetles too! For my flower gardens I use organic spray daily for about a week or so, then occasionally. However, with the vegetables, the animals are very, very, determined, and I don't like to spray our food. My husband built a big box using 2×4 studs. (NOT pressure treated as it's full of chemicals.) The box is 12 feet square and 6 feet high and sits on top of our two-foot-high raised bed. It was then covered with chicken wire. You could use deer fencing, it's cheaper. It's about 8 feet high. We had a shorter cage, but the deer jumped over it. I painted the wood in festive colors, and it looks cool. It means spending some cash, but we found some of the wood at the dump! Anyway, last year it worked perfectly and we harvested loads of veggies."

Commenters differed in opinions about whether saving seeds from store-bought foods is a fruitful idea.

gardengirl: "I loved this article and its positive tone. Just one thing, tho. Don't go to all of that work saving seeds from food you bought at the store. For one thing, it may be GMO, but if it isn't, and even if it's organic, it's almost certainly a hybrid. And hybrid seeds absolutely don't breed true. In fact they can grow perfectly awful plants. Think bitter, tough, ugly, woody, moldy, hardly any fruit, or the plants die easily."

checi: "I grew beautiful butternut squash and other fall gourds from the seeds I saved. I also had tomato plants grow out of the compost pile that I planted and got fruit from."

If you're just getting started, this reader suggests going the small route.

alr: "I've grown basil and Italian parsley with much success. I encourage anyone who has NEVER done gardening before to start with their favorite herbs. Most are ridiculously easy and the more you cut, the more they grow. And they can be grown in a clay pot with minimal effort."

How do you garden, if at all, and what challenges have you overcome? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    @ chrissy
    But that is too simple of a solution, so I don't see that happening. What do you think about chrissy's idea, nsaidi and Cnn ? I think you ought to consider it.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. O

    @@@bobcat(in in a hat),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,no actually the dry walling i do is for a good friend of mine here. He owns his own const. Company so i go in and do it for him, and he pays cash for whole job, but not hourly , thank goodness. Its a side kick for me it pays for my dirty playing in the mountains

    April 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. O

    @@@bobcat,,,,,,,,,,,,im a jack of many trades, hvac, highend carbon bikes, drywall , electrical,plumbing. Not bad for gay superman ha?

    April 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Superman

    Dammit im tired of these punks doing this sh+t a troll spends to much time on here! But actually troll right about my trades

    April 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Superman

    @@@high hopes i went down that road to! The big "D"oh yes what fun it is. As soon as being civil about it is brought up your be headed! I refrain from the hoochey coochey to even though im a gay male its just easier no drama. And thats good that you do as well,each to there own!

    April 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. High Hopes


    Its a personal choice... one I've made for God. I have a lot of friends in the music industry and most of them get chased around by women so much, they have a lot of respect for me. There's always exceptions, but, they're the ones who sleep around the most... they think I'm stuck Up. You know the type...

    April 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Maria's Swan

    Most gardeners face problems due to the geographic challenges. The gardeners are limited to grow very specific plants according to the climatic and geographic conditions. Also a major problem for many people while growing is Small spaces for gardening. I did face all this problems and recently have started growing hydroponically. The advantage of growing hydroponically is you can grow any vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers irrespective of the geographic challenges. It is very easy to setup a hydroponic system and it is a boon for people having small spaces for gardening.

    April 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. aldo


    April 4, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. wizard of oz


    April 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
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