Anyone who gardens or has tried to grow something knows that garden failures happen. Garden failures happen even to the most experienced of gardeners as well as beginners alike. It’s what we do with those failures that will determine the fate of your next gardening attempt.
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We hear it all the time. I would love to grow a garden but I have a “black thumb”! Or I just can’t seem to get anything to grow or keep it alive.
With a few good tips on approaching your next garden mindfully, growing something this year whether in a pot or on a larger scale is an achievable goal for anyone. Black thumb or no.
There is nothing any worse than putting in the time, the energy, and the resources needed to create a garden and have it grow beautifully and produce little to no fruit. Yup, speaking from experience here. It can be discouraging to say the least.
By taking proactive steps & learning from your mistakes will make all the difference in creating a garden you can be proud of.
TURNING GARDENING FAILURES INTO POSITIVES
I read somewhere (if this was you that said this let me know, it’s brilliant), that failure is the key to success and it’s the mistakes that teaches us. How true! Every “failure” in the garden experienced over the years has taught valuable lessons. Lessons that create future successes.
I’m not a fussy gardener. I tend to have the gardening outlook, you live or die, attitude. Don’t get me wrong. I tend the garden, see to it’s watering needs, weed when I absolutely have to, and fertilize when I remember. Needless to say, there have been many disappointments in our garden over the years.
It’s these “failures” that have taught lessons. It may be the way I trellised our tomatoes one year (they literally fell over with the weight of them), or planting the wrong variety of carrots for long term storage (they weren’t so long term after all), or even adding compost at the wrong time and wondering why my plants weren’t flourishing the way they normally did in the past.
All these lessons didn’t go unnoticed. They were recorded, made note of, and many never repeated 🙂 Re-inforced posts were put into place the following year for the tomatoes, different varieties of carrots grown specifically for storage purposes were planted, and learning when to fertilize for the benefit of the plants made all the difference in the outcome of our garden.
CREATE A GARDEN JOURNAL
Keep a gardening journal. This may be the best tip for any new gardener. Learn to track your garden. What was planted, where it was planted, how much was planted, and make note of any significant issues you faced during your growing season as well as what you would do differently.
My favorite gardening journal? My own! This is where all the gardening successes (planted, #’s produced, stored & canned) is noted. It’s also where all our failures are noted for next year’s planting.
I’ve created these beautiful, easy to download, printables with gardener’s of all levels in mind. Simply print out the sheets as often as you need, and add to a binder or folder year-to-year.
Don’t be in the position of growing a garden, having it fail, and then trying to remember what went wrong and how it went wrong six months later. It’s never too late to begin journaling your growing season. Grab your set in our Etsy Shop and get started today!
CHECK YOUR GARDENING STYLE & METHOD
When you experience garden failure look at the causes. Was it something out of your control? Droughts, natural disasters, increased pest infestations occur occassionally and are out of our control.
Should the cause of your garden failure be due to an “out of your control situation”, give your garden style & method another try. It may not be due to anything you did.
What exactly is garden style & method? “Vegetable Gardening Styles & Methods” goes into detail about how to determine your best approach to gardening. Simply put garden style is the hardscape of the garden. The physical makeup of the garden space. Gardening methods refer to how the garden is planted and maintained.
If you are unsure whether the failures were due to circumstances out of your control or something you may have done (or not done), have a backup plan.
Planting a raised bed? Add a few pots of your favorites in addition to the raised bed. Planting a row garden? Add a few different varities or an extra row or two and approach the way you grow them a bit differently. Be sure to journal as you go on this one! You may think you will remember, but believe me, by the end of the growing season you won’t. Just sayin’…
ANALYZE YOUR GARDEN
When you experience garden failures, especially if this happens multiple times, it’s time to take an in-depth look at the why’s. Why is your garden failing? By determining the “why’s”, solutions can then be implemented.
This is where, again, that garden journal can come in handy. Review it. Study it. Determine best you can why it failed.
Maybe it was due to incorrect watering (not enough or maybe too much), or possibly the plants were not sown at the correct time (too short a growing season), or maybe you bit off more than you could chew (planting too large a garden with no time to tend it properly).
Whatever, the reason, determine it and make the appropriate adjustments. Once you determine the “why” you are armed with the knowledge to create success the next round!
Note your successes as well! Typically, when a garden fails there will still be a win in there. So you didn’t get the bushels of tomatoes you had hoped to can for the winter. Were you able to enjoy eating a few fresh throughout the grow season? Pat yourself on the back & consider it a job well done no matter how small the wins 🙂
RESEARCH YOUR GARDEN FAILURES & CHANGE THEM
Now that you have determined the “why” of your failure, you can now research and institute appropriate gardening methods and styles.
You may need to incorporate a single method & style or it may take several approaches to get the end results you desire.
For instance, you may have little time to tend the garden weeding & watering. Consider mulching heavily to suppress the weeds and install a drip irrigation system on a timer. Voila! Problem solved.
Or perhaps you have poor, hard-packed soil making it almost impossible to plant anything. Raised beds to the rescue!
Where there is a will, there is a way. Especially when it comes to gardening.
KNOW WHAT YOU GROW TO PREVENT GARDEN FAILURE
By simply researching the plant or seed you are planting, it’s growth habit, watering requirements, and light needs you can reduce garden failures greatly.
For example, trying to grow carrots and not thinning them as you grow will set you up for big failure. Or at least tiny carrots 🙂 “Thinning Carrots The No Waste Way” gives some great info on how to do this with your crop.
You are already ahead of the curve when you know what you grow in your garden!
GARDENING IS AN EXPERIMENT
As the quote from Janet Kilburn states, “there are no gardening mistakes, only experiments”, view your garden as an experiment instead of a failure. Look at it as an opportunity to learn. To learn new methods & approaches, or possibly what new crops, herbs, or flowers to grow.
GARDENING EXPERIMENTS TO HELP YOU GET YOUR GROW ON
Here are a few of my “experiments” encountered over the years and what we’ve learned from them. Hopefully they can help you before beginning your grow season 🙂
- Planting In An A Bad Spot – Read those seed packets or directions that come with the plant you’ve purchased from the nursery! Be attentive to light requirements, watering needs, and spacing requirements. Don’t be like us when planting our first year and wondering why our carrots were the size of my thumb due to lack of thinning!
- Planting Too Early Or Too Late – Gardening in NE can be tricky at times with our weather. We have experienced years where we experience snow in April! Planting too early will only result in loss of time, seed/plants, & money if the weather turns and kills any hope of viability. On the other hand, planting too late may result in lack of production. No one wants a huge green tomato plant with no tomatoes!
- Ignoring The Condition Of Your Soil – The end result of your gardening efforts begins and ends with the condition of your soil. Have your soil tested if it’s a new bed at your local states extension office to determine the condition of your soil. Amend accordingly. Plan on adding compost or leaf mold at the end of each growing season that can be easily turned under to prepare for the next grow season.
- Planting Too Much – It’s easy to plant too much for your needs or gardening space. We can pack a lot into a small space, but realize the more you grow, the more care they need. It can easily be overwhelming. Grow a few of your favorite choices to begin and then increase your options as you grow in knowledge each year.
- Testing Seed For Viability – As you can see from my picture below, guess what step was ignored with the onion seed? Nothing worse than planting and getting one single onion germinated 🙂
- Ignoring Spacing Requirements – Planting too close together can often result in little to no crop or flowers/herbs. When first planting those small seedlings or plants, it’s easy to forget they grow. Some grow very large in height and width. Ignoring appropriate spacing requirements can end in disaster. Often in disease (no air-flow), stunted production (little to no fruit, flower or herb), and in worse case scenario, death.
- Procrastinating Maintenance – Putting off general care & maintenance (weeding, watering, feeding) of your garden beds is not something recommended. Taking a “week” off from your gardening chores can and will (speaking from experience here) result in stressed plants often bolting or going to seed, overgrown weeds that can overtake & ultimately harm the plants you actually want to grow.
- No Fencing/Protection – Wildlife love gardens. No matter where you live, some sort of wildlife issues will be present. We keep bees. The first years of keeping our hives, we chose to position them in an area with no fencing protection. Needless to say, 2 hives were decimated due to our oversight. We have bear to thank for that. Protecting your garden no matter how large or small from wildlife is key to enjoying any harvest.
- Succession Planting – When we first began gardening we direct sowed (planting the seeds directly into the garden) all our lettuce and salad greens. Thinking we would be enjoying wonderful salad greens all summer long from this planting. Nope. Lettuce easily bolts & becomes bitter the older the plant. Succession planting resolves this issue by planting new seeds/plants every two weeks or so.
- Mulching – Oh the time wasted for many years on weeding in between those well placed rows. Save time & your back and mulch. Mulch heavily. You’ll thank me in the long run.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH TO PREVENT THOSE GARDEN FAILS
So you had large losses of your tomato plants last growing season from pests or disease. Researching remedies that are appropriate for your gardening area and approach to gardening early can mean saving or losing your crop.
Educating yourself through research, talking with other gardeners in your area, and learning from your gardening failures all result in one thing. A great garden. One that will produce large harvests & reap big rewards.
Through a bit of determination, education, & perserverance, turning those garden failures into successes is possible! Hopefully this guidance can be used & implemented in your next gardening endeavor. May they all be bountiful and rewarding!
Still need further assistance? Consider joining our garden group for all levels of experience and ask away! It’s a free resource anyone can take advantage of! Click the image below to join today.
Do you have gardening failures or successes you want to share? Connect & join the conversation by commenting below!
Love, Light, & Laughter ~