Adventures in Vegetable Gardening

Updated: Apr 15

Featured Author: Kelly Ann Baker

How can one eloquently put into words their first vegetable gardening experience? Think about it...

Would you talk about the crisp morning air when you are watering new transplants, or how you started everything from just some seeds? Would you mention that only 12% of your sprouts make it into the actual garden bed? Did a bunch of lovely little critters invite themselves to dinner in your garden leaving you pits and a massacre of chewed leaves?

The Instagram photos alone intimidate me. When I think about the absolute horror show of dead and dying plants I needed to navigate through in order to finally learn and cultivate my green thumb, I realize I was not meant for that Insta-Life at the get go.

I eventually learned, and can now start from a seed to have a transplant and have something that actually GROWS!

I did not grow in a family that gardened. I did not grow in a family that ate organic (or even a lot of vegetables). Fruit, on the other hand, was a whole other story as we could totally chow down on bananas! I used to almost think I was adopted … but then I realized family isn't just about liking the same foods!

Let’s start by talking about aphids. Allow me to set the scene: You go out to water, minding your own business. It is a beautiful summer day. As you get closer to your produce you notice that something does not belong … there are these small orange bugs ALL over your flowers and vegetables. Those aphids are NOT welcomed! You spray them off with the hose but the damage has been done. Your poor plants! Some of them will need to go into the compost pile. Nature surprises you in unexpected ways. It would take some insight to know that water itself is useless without a little dish soap to keep these pests at bay.

Since we have discussed our lovely friends the aphids, let’s move on to the reason I wrote this post – my startling introduction to the tomato hornworm.

I have a fenced in garden with raised beds and in-ground produce. In order to keep out groundhogs and other creatures, I dug the fence underground on top of chicken wire and stones to make it discouraging to those trying to get to the treats on the other side. This seemed to work for a while, but one day I came home and the netting I put over top (to defend against birds) was torn off and the gate was wide open. … Maybe Big Foot does exist and enjoys tomatoes and eggplant??

One of my tomato plants was totally gone except for one lone tomato with a huge green caterpillar crawling about. I was not even mad at this point, I was impressed! I had never seen a tomato hornworm and since the rest of the tomatoes on that plant were gone, I just let him (or her) do his thing. Sometimes even the most meticulous of measures can be thwarted by animals who want to get into a garden. To this day I'm not sure what animal committed the crime.

I was pretty upset that my hard work was erased in a day. I was also grateful that something was able to eat the food I was growing. Now, I know I need a more elaborate method of safety for my garden. I refortified my defenses and now have a lovely outdoor garden.

Gardening and growing indoor plants are great ways to explore your comfort zone and learn new things every season. Be grateful for the experiences instead of dwelling on plants that maybe did not grow according to plan.

There is one thing I can always rely on! The Smart Plant and Tree Care app helps me easily identify common outdoor pests and give me all the tools I need to keep my plants thriving. Download iOS here. Download Android here.

Happy learning and growing my plant aficionado friends!


Colleagues call me Kelly or Kelly Ann. Students call me Dr. Baker. Clients call me Dr. Dirt. I am your friendly neighborhood crazy plant lady.

I come from a family of fake plant owners where the only maintenance was dusting off the bright plastic leaves. Growing up I had no real plants in my home except for the ones outside.

When I am not teaching (I am an Adjunct Professor), walking my dog or working on landscaping/gardening for my properties I pride myself on being that strange plant rescue mom with friends and neighbors giving me their brown and shriveled attempts at potted plant ownership.

I am located in Pennsylvania where I live with my two adopted cats, Leah and Selena Kyle, my newly adopted dog named King Theoden (aka, Theo) and a VERY healthy amount of plants.

I am so excited to use my passion for plants and writing to be a guest blogger here at Smart Plant Home.

27 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All