it's just not my thing

I don’t think ‘shoulds’ are useful. They are other people’s voices in my head, and only serve to make me feel guilty, insecure or inadequate.

The ‘should’ voice I am disclosing in this post is telling me I should be growing my food.

People in my life, real and virtual, regularly ask me how my vegetable garden is going, and are genuinely surprised that such a gardening addict doesn’t grow her own.

I think this growing your own food trend ☺ is wonderful. I approve it for many reasons. Some of these reasons are:

- people’s health,
- the health of the environment,
- empowerment of communities,
- less dependence on supermarkets,
- people becoming more integrated with nature, even in densely populated cities.

Sustainability activists have influenced urban and suburban developments. There are plans for edible landscapes. Dandenong South and Coburg, both Melbourne suburbs, will soon have housing developments with fruit trees lining the streets. It is envisaged that neighbourhood collectives will organize harvesting and distributing the produce. In a multicultural community there are many different ways of producing and consuming food, and sharing ideas will benefit and enrich the whole community.

Geelong Botanical Gardens contains an edible section, featuring food plants from all over the world.

At an individual level, more and more people are following the trend. People with gardens large and small, balcony gardens, roof gardens, vertical gardens, indoor gardens – are all growing edible plants.

I am not following this trend.

I do grow some fruit – loquats, feijoas, grapes – and some herbs – thyme, parsley, marjoram, rosemary. I select my plants for their aesthetic qualities and for their ability to withstand hot dry summers without water. I know that food plants can be beautiful and even drought resistant too, so why don’t I grow more?

It’s just not my thing, I explained vaguely to an enquiring cousin recently.

Maybe it’s to do with my garden philosophy. My garden is a long-term project. The pleasure is in the constant change and learning. It’s not got a specific goal. Sometimes I get food from it. Sometimes it is stunningly beautiful. Sometimes it isn’t.

My garden just goes on evolving. Actually it is co-evolving, it and me together.


  1. I think gardeners are often divided into I want to grow veg, or I want to grow flowers camps. I am in the latter, though I have had veg gardens in the past. Don't fell guilty though, we need both.

  2. It is surely a personal choice and honestly, in my situation anyhow, it'd be cheaper and easier if I just bought my veggies instead of attempting to grow them!

  3. I think gardening has to be enjoyable. You grow what you want to. Tell the 'should' voice to keep quiet :-)

  4. I have to say I prefer to grew flowers but I am lucky as my husband likes to grow veg and so it all works out quite well best of both worlds.
    I was thinking today whilst weeding the veg/flower area that in fact that is the most interesting part of the garden often borne out by visitors to the garden.
    Should is a word other people use not one for your own head.

  5. Shoulds, Oughts, and Musts are words that therapists agree are hazards to your health! It is so much more 'healthy' to have a garden that feels right for you, rather than for someone else! I do my own thing in my garden and since it is mine alone, know that it's a haven for self-expression and relaxation! I'm glad you feel the same way! Jan

  6. Hooray Catmint! I'm in your camp. Although I grow a few veggies (tomatoes, zucchini and beans) they're contained in a relatively small area of my backyard. Fruit in my opinion, tastes better and is less labor intensive and bug prone. However, much kudos to those who are big veggie gardeners. Any kind of gardening is good if it gets people off their derrieres and closer to nature.

    In the past few years, my plant addiction has become much more satisfying. I believe it's because I'm equally focused on PLACE and overall design. Admittedly I've still got the "should" voice but the older I get, the easier it is to ignore. I'm refocusing on enjoying what's in bloom now and how it complements (or not) its neighbors. "Seize the moment" as they say because in the blink of an eye the seasons will change and the less friendly weather will force me indoors. We must enjoy NOW. How extremely lucky we are to to have a patch of ground to call our own. Great post, Catmint!!

  7. We have the same gardening philosophy.

  8. I am not spared of this 'should' to grow own vegetables too... even with my limited container garden! I prefer to buy vegetables and keep my limited space for ornamental plants to beautiful my house. And, I also do not like the idea of knowing the type of fertiliser used when eating the vege... feels funny you know.

  9. Catmint, you've articulated my garden philosophy nicely, or at least part of it. Hunter-gatherer societies certainly must have looked at the plant landscape for what was edible or useful otherwise, but I also believe beauty has been an important factor in plant selections for our gardens. I like the idea of putting our aesthetic and practical concerns back together, instead of looking at gardens as THINGS which have to be either productive or beautiful.

  10. Lovely garden pictures, Catmint. I don't do a lot of food gardening, either, though the kiddos convinced us to make space for peas, watermelon and carrots this spring. I just don't get as excited about veggies as I do about ornamentals. No one has time for everything, and that's just life!

  11. I say to each his own! I like that with this economic crises people who did not garden in the past may get in touch with the earth. I integrate herbs w/ my perrenials. I do grow tomatoes for my husband. I think your garden is stunning and love the glimpses of Australia. Good on you Catmint!

  12. Gardening is about getting close to nature... us, flora and fauna. We apply intervention to suit our likings...

    Just do what you like...

    ~ bangchik

  13. Very thoughtful's always good to put the "shoulds" back in their own place. As long as your not hurting anything/anyone, do as you will.

  14. thanks for all the comments, you have all helped me to feel more confident about what I do.

  15. I just stumbled across your blog. This is an interesting dilemma. I am an on again off again vegetable grower. Now that we are empty nesters it's more off than on because I am more strongly drawn to the aesthetics of a garden. I understand how you feel. If I had more space......


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