Veggie Gardens & Dahlia Gardens & The Empty Nest

Welcome back Guest Adventurer Cinthia!

Cinthia Milner is a trained horticulturist who works as a garden coach, speaker, educator and writer at a local, independent garden center in Asheville, NC. She writes for magazines, and newspapers but enjoys her blog writing the most at, where she writes about the ‘inevitable changes’ life brings (transplanted) and the adjustments we must make (still blooming). Mom to two adult sons, and YaYa to two adorable granddaughters, her favorite place in the world is her garden.

Gardens & The Empty Nest

Yesterday, a friend was bemoaning her soon-to-be empty nest. Two beautiful girls graduating (one from high school and one from college), and the college girl getting married. All within a couple of weeks of each other. Her house will go from hustle and bustle to tomb-stone quiet. Her therapist suggested a hobby. Why do therapists think hobbies are a good replacement for kids?  Anyway, gardening was suggested, but she’s never gardened, and hasn’t a clue where to begin.

So, if your kids are leaving, or you’re just bored and feeling a tad interested in gardening, here’s a wee bit of advice.

garden carrots

Start with a veggie garden.

#1 reason why: You are rewarded with your own food. You’ll have the delicious thrill of holding in your hand, one sun-warmed, juicy-ripe tomato that you grew. What better hobby than one that produces produce?

#2 reason why: You will till, sow, weed, water, harvest, and basically tend to your garden, if not daily, several times a week. It is gardening 101+.

It is baptism by veggies.

You’ll begin by finding the sunniest spot in your yard. You need what I call parking-lot sun. Direct sun 10-4 is best. If you live with no yard, containers work too. I grow my lettuces in big, fancy pots that I used to plant elaborate container gardens in, but now prefer the lettuces. And, since there’s no reason to reinvent the how-to-garden, veggie garden instructions, here’s a great book on getting started. It’s fairly cheap on Amazon, or I’d bet the local library has a copy. I have one copy if anyone wants to borrow it, and feel free to pass it along to the next gardener-in-training when you’re done.

Veggie Garden Book

Side Note: I regularly tell my clients, you don’t have to do everything in the book. I’m generally speaking metaphorically, but in this case, I mean it. This guy loves his vegetable garden, but you’re allowed to start small. Overwhelmed = Failure. Do a 1/4 of what this book suggests. Another little, pithy thing I tell clients, it is easier to add than to delete.

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We want success here.

Last bit of advice: Buy and plant dahlia bulbs around your veggie garden. (You buy these now, and get them in the ground over the next few weeks.) They’ll bloom late summer when the veggies are winding down, and keep you motivated to get out to the garden and clean up the summer veggies, or plant fall veggies. Here’s some inspiration.

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Thank you Cinthia for this charming post! I can just smell those carrots and feel the warmth of the sun in your gardens!

Have any of you had experience with gardens & the empty nest? We would love to hear about it!



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2 thoughts on “Veggie Gardens & Dahlia Gardens & The Empty Nest”

  1. I love digging in the dirt….but my efforts rarely produce anything edible or even that pretty. Plus, because of chronic back condition, gardening puts me in bed for at least two days. I’ll stay with scuba diving!


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