Gardening: Lessons Away from the Cabbage Patch - Guest Post by Mackenzie Kupfer

Today, dear readers, you are in for a treat! We are lucky enough to have a gardening guest poster - Mackenzie Kupfer - with us today. She's treating us to some real writing; thoughts and reflections on gardening.
I hope you enjoy Mackenzie's story. I was super excited to partner with her for this guest post. You can read her a bit more about her below.

*She got the hard part (writing)... while I took the easy way out (photos). 



Gardening: Lessons Away from the Cabbage Patch

By: Mackenzie Kupfer

For the most part I find gardening to be relaxing but there times when that’s just not the case. Even though I’ve been digging holes in various gardens since I was a wee little girl, I still make some extreme gardening blunders. The biggest of which happened when I was released from my parents grasp and attempted to man down an entire garden of my own. I was finally out of the cabbage patch and into the thick of life!

If only I had known what I was getting myself into. Not only is moving away from home an adventure on its own, but trying to cultivate a full and mature garden at the same time is more than most people can handle. Trying to find a harmonious balance between life and gardening put me to tears on more than one occasion and nearly caused me to give up gardening entirely.
The first mistake, and probably the biggest, that I made was not being realistic when it came to my capabilities. I wanted it all; vegetable garden, flower garden, compost pile, potting shed! And I didn’t want it to be small. Go big or go home was my motto.

I had a few flower and vegetable gardening supplies but not a whole lot. What I should have done was invested a little more money into fertilizers and compost but I didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend at the time. This was especially true when I first moved out on my own and had my own little plot of land to till. All the same I wasn’t too worried about it. I suppose my ego had gotten a little too big while working within the confines of what my mom or nana would allow me to do.

In order to save some money, I raided my mother’s garden and got as many transplants as she would let me have. One plant in particular that I decided I wanted was catnip for my cats. I felt as though it was necessary if I wanted to be any sort of mother to my cats.

After spending almost an entire day planting what I had scavenged, I looked around and decided that I was pleased with myself. Everything was planted, watered, and otherwise tended to. I went to bed that night exhausted but still excited about my soon to flourish garden.

As you can probably guess, nothing turned out the way I had intended. I came out the next day and had a rude awakening and was thrust into the reality of behind responsible for an entire garden. The catnip was nothing but a pile of dead leaves and cat fur! The neighbor cats got to it before the poor things even had a chance to regain their root strength. Looking back, this was actually quite comical but I couldn’t see that at the time. My frustration with gardening was beginning to bubble as I looked down at the aftermath of the catnip massacre and by the end of the season it had reached its peak.

The whole catnip debacle was only the beginning of a long string of events that summer that made me entirely fed up with the gardening process. More than half of the flowers that I had planted didn’t even bother to bloom and the only vegetable I could get to grow was zucchini. I like zucchini but there was no way I could consume or even give away all that was growing in my garden. My compost pile reeked to high heaven and I hadn’t even gotten a chance to work on a potting shed. I felt defeated.

In the middle of my vegetable garden, I sat slumped on the ground surrounded by giant zucchini and diseased tomatoes and sobbed.  I couldn’t understand why everything I touched seemed to die (except for that darn zucchini) despite the fact that I’ve always had a green thumb. Perhaps my green thumb was beginning to wilt and turn into a shade of brown. Perhaps it was a sign that I should give up gardening entirely, which I almost did.

Now that I have a few years behind me I’m able to step back and realize what my mistakes were.  I was impatient. I did too much at once. I didn’t prep my soil as much as I should have, etcetera, etcetera. There were a million different lessons for me to learn about gardening as well as life at that time but what sticks with me the most is the fact that I kept gardening season after season.

So I ask myself, “Why do I even bother keeping a garden?” Is it because there’s something about creating and nurturing something that’s outside of myself that only gardening allows me to experience? Is it because it’s a way for me to care for the world around me while also caring for myself?  The answer is yes but it’s also more than that. 
Gardening has taught me how to be humble in my triumphs and how to be gracious in my humility. It gives me excuses to wear silly gloves and even sillier hats. When working in a garden, I can play in the dirt without fear of consequence while being destructive and constructive at the same time. It allows me to step away from myself and work towards something bigger. But more importantly than all of that; working in my garden makes me happy.

Mackenzie Kupfer loves digging in her garden and is constantly making new mistakes in her garden. When she’s not taming back mint or pruning her rose bushes, she writes, hikes, and enjoys curling up with her cats.

See? Isn't she lovely?! Mackenzie poses an interesting question... Why do we garden, or why do we continue to garden? If you have any thoughts, feelings or comments on that very important question, please drop me a comment. I'd love to hear from you. 

Happy Monday and see you tonight at #GardenChat!


  1. Loved it!! I'm just starting my gardening journey, and this entry has been beyond helpful! I don't have many plants at this time, but now I'm gonna learn from Mackenzie's lesson and try to focus in getting better fertilizers for the plants I already have and make them look gorgeous before starting with new ones!

  2. Yes, oh yes. My first garden was a horrible disaster. Much the same. Wanted all of it, didn't care to properly amend the soil. I started 100 tomatoes from seed and tried to fit them all in a 20x10 bed. I cringe writing that. Great post.





Sarah Brackney is R&S Garden. A gardening fiend. She is no expert, she just gardens. Her gardens are her art. And yes, she has weeds in her garden; she just chooses not to show them to you. Thanks for visiting.