The Gardening Cook

Carol ImageWelcome to The Gardening Cook! My name is Carol Speake, and I’m the founder of The Gardening Cook, a place to find not only lots of great gardening advice and wholesome healthy recipes, but also household tips and home decor ideas to make your time at home easier and more enjoyable. At The Gardening Cook, it is really my hope that I can help others find ways to have a balanced, natural life.  I will teach you how to make easy healthy meals, and provide practical advice for all areas of your home and garden.

I have loved nature since I was a little girl. I am happiest digging in the dirt and showing love to my family with good, wholesome food.

I come from a long line of gardeners, and remember fondly trying to steal peas from my great grandmother’s garden, until she discovered me three.  My love of gardening has continued to this day and I read constantly trying to increase my knowledge of outdoor plants, vegetables and houseplants.

I spent the first part of my adult life teaching and then living in Australia in various business ventures, the first of which was a business devoted to the sale of house plants.  I am now a full time blogger. I am a self taught cook and family taught gardener.

About the Gardening Cook

I started this blog late in 2012 as a hobby, to share my garden photos and recipes with my family and friends. At the time, I had an online jewelry store and wanted a more creative outlet.  Little did I know then, how much I would love to photograph and work with photo editing and share garden and home advice with a growing following of like minded readers.

As my photography skills improved, so did my readership.  Now, less than four years later, I have turned The Gardening Cook into a full time job.  I have worked with many companies to promote their products and messages with my readers.

My first love is gardening.   I watched my mother, who was always busy (with a family of six children and a husband most often working away) tending to her gardens.  It gets hot here in North Carolina, but you will still find me out in my garden, doing what I love the most – making our outside living area a beautiful place in which to be.

Summer time Gardening Tips

My second love is cooking.  Once again, this love formed when I was young.   I have always loved experimenting with new recipes.  I’m not a person who cooks with recipes, even though I provide them all here on my blog.  I love to add a bit of this and a bit of that and see how it works.  Some are successful and some, well, not so much, but it’s all fun.  I told my daughter the other day “the way you learn to cook, is to cook!”

Many of my recipes have been featured on both Food Gawker and Taste Spotting.  My  homemade marinara sauce  is one of my most popular recipes on the site with over 200,000 page views.. I love to feature healthy recipes, or to slim down versions of normally decadent recipes. Incorporating garden veggies in my recipes is something that I never tire of.

grilled pork with strawberry peach salsa

My third love is what I call “nesting.” Basically, anything to do with making a home more comfortable and inviting appeals to me.  For years, I spent a great deal of time in DIY home decor projects.  I especially love to transform areas of my home in need of some loving TLC. My before and after posts are very popular with my readers.


Find me on Social Media.

I am very active on social media, where I have a very engaged following of over 120,000 fans. These are my four major social media channels.

Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram

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Do you like what you see here?  If so, hop on over and sign up for my newsletter. Each time I have a new blog post, you’ll get an email with an overview of the post to help you stay up to date with my latest news.

The Gardening Cook Newsletter

Like mother, like daugher, Jess has her own blog called Jess Explains it All.  (The irony of the name never escapes me!)  Jess is the light of my life and I mention her often in my blog posts.  Be sure to visit her site. She talks about many of the same things that I do, but also has her own interests as well, and it’s a great blog.  You can also find her on Facebook at Jess Explains it all.

Sunflowers and My daughter Jess

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  17 comments for “

  1. Peggy
    10/28/2013 at 1:37 am

    Is there a way for me to receive email postings. I do not twitter or get on Facebook? I LOVE your site…..thank you!

  2. Ginger
    09/02/2014 at 3:51 pm

    Hi Carol, I love your site. Is there a way I can buy some of your chocolate cosmos? I love collecting variety of flowers. I also want to know how much are your red emperor tulip? Thanks.

    • admin
      09/02/2014 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Ginger. Thanks for the kind words. I don’t sell any plants on my site but in many of my articles, I feature plants that are available from American meadows, an affiliate partner of mine. The chocolate cosmos has a link under the photo to J Parker dutch bulbs who sell them, and the red emperor tulip has a link under the photo to American meadows who have them for sale.

      Kind regards,

  3. Jill
    09/08/2014 at 6:55 pm

    Thank you, Carol, for the explicit DIY teepee instructions. I shall put them into practice tomorrow.
    What a pleasure it is to read your blog. My daughter has ‘just’ created hers, so I won’t share with her yet:)

    • admin
      09/08/2014 at 10:24 pm

      Hi Jill. Thanks for the nice comments. The teepee is such a fun project to do. I hope you enjoy it. Best of luck to your daughter on her blog! Carol

  4. Judith
    09/08/2014 at 9:13 pm

    You look and sound like someone I could really enjoy!

    • admin
      09/08/2014 at 10:23 pm

      Hi Judith. Thanks so much for the kinds words. Glad you enjoy my blog! Carol

  5. nancy
    10/05/2014 at 11:11 am

    I was wondering instead of tree bark, have you ever used mulched tree? I have been reading where it is better for your soil, and will even potentially enrich the soil as it breaks down.

    • admin
      10/05/2014 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Nancy. I’ve used bark nuggets as well as finely shred tree mulch. The bark takes longer to break down, the shredded mulch, seems to control weeds better. Carol

  6. Sue Anderson
    07/19/2015 at 3:44 pm

    I pinned a recipe from your strawberry favorites that had strawberries piped with almond cream and it was delicious. But when I go back to this post, there is advertising below the picture that covers the link to get to the recipe. Can you let me know where I can find that link to get the recipe once again? Thanks for your help!

  7. 12/24/2018 at 5:12 am

    Nice to be visiting your blog again. it has been months for me. Well this article that i’ve been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college. and it has same topic with your article. Thanks. great share.

  8. Jean
    05/01/2019 at 4:13 pm

    Question for you on the recipe for plant food. When feeding do I use 1/8 -1/4 of the total gallon concentrate to 4 cups water OR do I use just an 1/8 -1/4 Cup of the concentrate to the 4 cups of water. Confusing for an old senior! Thank you

    • Carol
      05/01/2019 at 9:07 pm

      Hi Jean. I have several recipes for plant food on my site. Which one are you asking about? Carol

  9. Steve Blomgren
    05/25/2019 at 5:37 pm

    HiCarol, you recommended 20. Mule team liquid borax weed killer to kill creeping Charlie and I can’t find anyone who sells it. Do you know where I can buy it? Or do you know if I can make it from Borox powder and water?
    Thanks, Steve

    • Carol
      05/25/2019 at 5:39 pm

      Hi Steve. I got mine at the grocery store. Most of them sell it here. It’s available with amazon. Not sure about making it yourself.

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