Creating A Summer Vegetable Garden

My love of gardening has to be one of the biggest surprises of my life. Gardening is dirty and slow paced. It can be physically challenging. It does not always yield the results you want. Sometimes you get absolutely nothing off a plant. Suffice to say, as a woman who can’t stand still and likes results, gardening was not on my bucket list.


But about 25 years ago we moved to this small house on a large lot (large for LA) in Sherman Oaks. And being an avid cook, I became enchanted with the notion of growing my own vegetables. So one chilly spring day I convinced my husband to go out and turn and the supplement the soil around the stubborn roots of our massive Oak trees and help me plant. It took all weekend and it was something we worked on together—which was incredibly satisfying. (I like that so much more than when we clean out the garage) And that has happened pretty much one weekend every March of our marriage. Over the past two decades it has been a journey learning the ins and outs of gardening in Southern California. Some years I’ve grown more tomatoes that I could use. Other years, nasty critters have snatched close to every single one. But I’ve come to realize that it does not matter.
Like so much of life, I’ve learned, it is about the process –thejourney –not the destination. Out there in my backyard, it is just me and the great outdoors. Except for the bird and bees making chirps and buzzing, it is completely silentand a full-on nature immersion. For me there is nothing that compares to going out summer mornings when the light is soft and filling my basket with beautiful vibrant veggies and then coming inside and creating dishes from them. I just love it.
Here I share the first of three in a series on creating a summer veggie garden. This first installment focuses on preparation, which is super important. If you don’t create the right environment for your plants, you won’t yield results.
For those of you with a small space, I suggest container gardening. The key is simply consistent watering and putting your containersin a space that gets at least 7-8 hours of sun.
My friend, the urban gardener Whitney Wade, who you’ll meet in the video, sells terrific container gardening starter kits of various sizes with complete instructions on the how-to. You can check them out on her website at


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