Every plant I’ve ever assumed responsibility for has withered and died.

A few years ago, a friend told me that cacti were hard to kill. I went out the next day and bought a squat, healthy-looking specimen. Within a week, it developed a fungus and collapsed in on itself like an extra from the Aliens set.

This is hub’s avocado plant. It is thriving without my attention.

Given my colourful rap sheet of plant murdering, it’s anyone’s guess why I decided I could grow a garden in The Bahamas.

Perhaps it was husband’s enthusiasm, or the perpetual sunshine, or the eye-watering price of carrots at the grocery store.

(Or it could have been a double gin and coconut water aka The Reason For All My Bad Decisions.)

Whatever the motive, I embarked on backyard farming with optimism and cheer.

Several months later, the back patio looks like Frankenstein’s lab and the cockroaches have opened up a luxury resort in our compost heap.

The only thing left to do is spread the word so that others may learn from my mistakes. If you’re at all interested in backyard gardening on your rock, here’s how not to do it.

Step One:

Clear a space on your back patio for your garden.

Realise that your dog considers the entire area his patio, so hastily rig up some kind of apparatus to stop him from eating your plants (or doing other unmentionable things to them).

“I don’t remember giving permission for this.”

Step Two:

Go to a gardening store and get soil, plant pots, seeds, and whatever else the slack-jawed, vacant-eyed assistant advises.

Cry a little when you take it all to the cash register.

Cheer up when you remind yourself how much you’ll be saving at the grocery store once you’re a gardening success.

Step Three:

Take your new equipment home with you and spend several hours putting soil into pots with one hand and pushing the dog away with the other.

Go inside before realising that both you and the dog are covered in dirt.

Spend several more hours bathing the dog, the sofa covers, the bed linens, and your clothes.

bath = sleepy pup

Step Four:

Begin making compost by saving all of your kitchen scraps and putting them in a bag outside.

Lift bag and recoil in horror at the tidal wave of roaches that streams out every time you open it again.

Spend a few hours in a corner rocking and weeping.

Never make compost again.

Step Five:

Plant your seeds and put them in the sun.

Then move them out of the sun.

Then into the sun again.

Then water them.

But not too much.

And not too little.

Realise that you were supposed to be at work five hours ago but instead have spent the day moving plant pots from one corner of the patio to another and intermittently drowning them.

Wonder if plants can report a person to the Hague for waterboarding.

Step Six:

Shower your growing plants with love and attention. Pride yourself on being an organic farmer who loves and respects nature.

Notice that your plants are festooned with bugs. So. Many. Bugs.

Rain down a pesticide apocalypse that will scour the earth for decades to come.

Forget about the organic part of gardening when you realize island bugs are unstoppable.

Step Seven:


Pull up your carrots expecting firm, thick batons of goodness.

Instead uncover a stunted, twisted thing that reeks of evil.

Hide it in a salad and serve it to your husband.

Feel guilty, tearfully confess, and offer to drive him to the emergency room so they can exorcise it from his stomach.

Step Eight:

Pack away the seeds, pots, and soil.

Pour yourself a very large drink.

Start writing your grocery store list and accept the fact that you are one of those people who buys their produce because growing things – especially on a rock – is HARD.

–   –   –

Have you ever attempted to garden on your island? How did it go?

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

New Providence, Bahamas

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:


Hailing from Ireland, Cath has always lived on a rock but in 2009, that rock got a lot smaller (and a lot warmer) when she moved to New Providence in The Bahamas. Since then she’s learnt how to paddleboard, adopted two dogs, swum with sharks, figured out how to open a coconut, developed a taste for rum, bought a boat, sold a boat, met a manatee, and got married (side note: this might be the most important use of the Oxford Comma in history). 

Cath earns her rum money writing for a living and when she’s not slaving away in an office without a view she’s having beach days, boat days, swim days and generally-anything-outdoors days. Since the island only has two seasons, Hot and Less Hot, the years go by quickly and while Cath doesn’t know if living on a rock will be a permanent thing, it certainly seems to be working out that way. 

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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