Family Matters,  fighting the fat gene,  fitness,  gardening,  the sticks

Working out at Earth Gym

a perfect day for gardening

Here I’ve been complaining about how much I miss my old beach town and how I used to walk all over the place to burn calories and I’ve got my very own gym to work out in right in my back yard! I’m so dense sometimes. All I needed to do was pick up a shovel and hack at the ground for a few hours and I got the best workout I’ve had in years! My arms hurt, my legs hurt and I went to bed with that tired-muscle feeling that lets you relax into your pillow like butter melting on a hot summer day. There is nothing better than a good hard tired. And I didn’t even have to pay an astronomical gym membership fee to get it!

setting up the stakes working out at Earth Gym

the garden grows

Really, I should be paying my mom for this workout. It’s all her fault. She keeps buying plants for me even though I protest over the money she’s spending. She sets them right in plain view of my desk and as soon as I clock out for the day from my freelance projects I can’t wait to hit the backyard and plant them. It’s the best incentive ever because I can’t just let them sit there in their packages wilting. They must be planted! Nothing gets me bothered more than a poor sad plant dying because it needs some water and some soil to rest in. So thank you, Mom. Do you know how much money you could be making as a personal trainer?!!


Seriously though, not only is a workout at Earth Gym good for the body, it’s good for the soul. My mom and I probably spent four hours together planning and digging and daydreaming about what our garden will look like come summer. I’m so excited. It’s the best mood lifter ever.

digging digging digging

We had wanted to put in raised garden beds but we just couldn’t figure out a way to make them inexpensively. I’m not very good with a hammer and nails and lumber costs a fortune. So in the end we just figured we’d spend more time weeding and do it old-school style in the ground. I mean, really, we have all this dirt to work with, it was a shame not to plant in it. So what if we can’t afford fancy garden boxes? What we’re short on in money, we make up for with time!

fishing out the grass

At first I was intimidated by the rock-hard dirt and the foxtail infested grass that grows so rampantly out here but after hosing it for an hour it finally gave way to my willpower. I just imagined I was on a elliptical machine and somebody had pushed the “hill mode” button to challenge me. You think you got the best of me, rock-hard dirt? Have some hose water and eat my sweat!



It doesn’t look like much so far but I think if I keep putting in regular workouts every other day, it will probably be the best-looking garden around. Who knows, maybe I’ll have to charge admission and start taking on other customers who want to get a good work out.


Of course I’m the one who will be paying the water bill this summer so I might be paying for this workout in the end but I will be eating fresh fruit and vegetables knowing where they come from and that they have not been treated with chemicals, so there’s that. Not to mention the hours and hours of child care this backyard has provided. That’s a huge savings.


Bug and the neighborhood kids had a blast digging “moats” around the tomato plant “castles.” Shoot, I had a blast too! I love playing with mud and water! It takes me back to my childhood years when my brother and I used to spend whole summer days making rivers and dams and massive cities in the runoff water in the ditch in front of our house. There is nothing more fun than water management.

wheeee! we're done for the day!

And then to celebrate a long hot workout, we sprayed water in the air and got everybody wet. It was like champagne without the calories.

Garden Girl

I kinda like this healthy Garden Girl look on me, I think I’ll be back at Earth Gym tomorrow!


  • Jenni H.

    You look Amazing! Hey there’s a Organic farmer at the market that sells organic gardening supplies:)

  • helene

    I get such a kick out of reading the adventures of secret agent josephine. Sounds like you and your mom are haviing lots of fun. Will be looking forward to seeing your garden in full bloom.

  • Carrie S.

    I LOVE IT! I started pruning our blackberry bushes back a couple weeks ago (a project that’s never been finished… so typical of our household!), and couldn’t lift my arms for three days. Three cheers for the gardening workout!

  • Becca

    Yay for gardening! I can’t wait to get started on mine, but we are still a bit too cold. I might be able to get some carrots and radishes and kolrabhi in the ground this weekend since they like cool weather – but all the other stuff will need to wait.

    And you want some hard dirt – I’ll gladly share some of my Oregon clay! That stuff is hard, but you are right about it giving the best workout ever!

    As for a less expensive option for raised beds – look into using haybales as the borders to the raised bed. I’m not sure how much haybales cost to buy, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about using them as a raised garden bed since they help hold in moisture and they provide a bit of a seat for when you have to do the weeding.

    To help with water conservation (and weed prevention) – put a mulch down like bark mulch, nut shells, etc. Pecan shells are good too especially if you have a problem with slugs since the slugs can’t go over them.

  • Jaynette

    Wish we could send some of our rain to you. The city has closed most parks because they are swamps and dangerous for the kids playing on sports teams.

    Our high school has artificial turf so the track meet will go on as planned…in the rain, hail, even snow last week.

  • brooke

    Oh I’m so jealous! It’s much too cold and rainy to get out and plant anything here yet. And I have to cut down some bushes before I can even think about it. But I did see at a local garden that they used cinder-blocks to make their raised beds. I thought it was a fabulous idea. Just stack them as high as you want in whatever shape you want. I suppose that could get expensive too…but people are often giving away cinder blocks or pieces of broken concrete in the free section of Craigs list. I’ve always done my garden straight into the ground. Then the workouts can continue all summer long as you hoe and weed. I can almost taste those yummy veggies!

  • TexasLea

    You’re so right, Earth Gym is an awesome workout. You will be so fit and tan by the time summer is over!

    I can’t wait to see how your little garden grows. :)

  • Sarah

    “Champagne without the calories” – I love it!
    There’s something so fascinating about water management. I can’t see a little rivulet running down the side of the road without wanting to put a stone it in and divert it.

  • Ninabi

    What a great opportunity- exercise and fresh food!

    I’m wishing we could have more of a garden here in Tucson- the soil is caliche- God’s concrete- so we thought raised beds. And then….oh then…we had desert rodents of all stripes come and eat every leaf off every stem. And then the stems.

    We’re planting less tasty items.

    So- I am enjoying watching your garden, instead! Can’t wait to see pictures as the summer goes along.

  • Madge

    I’ve been planning my Earth Gym in my head this week. I agree, best workout ever!! My dad is forever planting, arranging, re-arranging, his plants and he’s never been overweight.

    I only wish I had his green thumb. I have him drop by periodically to make sure all my frutis and veggies are growing the right way!

  • amy

    I know what you mean :) Gardening SUCH a great work out. Not only do you get the satisfaction of seeing concrete results of your labors you will soon get entertained watching them grow and then the bliss of harvest! I love the feeling of having worked hard in my yard.

    Not much of a food gardener myself (husbands turf) but I love flower gardening. Always beds to be divided, widened, improved upon. So much more rewarding spending time in the garden than say housework!

  • Kuky

    That’s so awesome. I really really want a garden. But I’m also really really bad with plants. But we keep trying. We’ve been talking about trying again for the past few weeks. Maybe this weekend.

  • BeachMama

    You look fabulous!! I hope I get a chance to see that garden and the fruit of your labours. I wish I was in a tank top and gardening right now, but since it snowed last night, I am guessing Spring is a little late this year :(

  • gingermog

    I love it! Working out in the garden, just like good old fashioned days. Can you imagine the muscles women must have had in their arms back in the days when they churned butter and washed clothes by hand?