Garden Failures: What not to do
Guest Post by Kari Patterson
We’re currently on our 5th garden. No, not our 5th year having a garden, our 5th different garden. Which makes us not experts, but fools, because we keep starting over at each new place we live. I would not recommend this. But I would recommend starting some sort of garden, taking into account the space and time you have available.
Where to start? First, learn from our mistakes:
1. The Potted Garden
Here we lived in a townhome. No yard. No garden space. Our garden consisted of pots lining our front and back porch. The herbs were a tremendous success, the zucchini not so much.
Stick with herbs, tomatoes, peppers. Great option for yardless folks.
2. The Too-Much-Shade Garden
When we lived with my parents we rototilled up a large garden on the edge of their property. It was certainly a step up from the potted garden, but there were so many trees, nothing really got enough sun to flourish.
3. The Scorched Garden
In our last house we lived on a suburban lot, so I marked out a small spot on the side for the garden and did it all by hand. The soil was terrible, but I didn’t want to buy a lot of topsil, so I hand dug trenches for the rows and filled them in with garden soil. The lettuce went hog wild, but the trenches weren’t deep enough for the carrots to really flourish. Plus, because the garden was up against the side of the house, the hot sun reflected off the siding and scorched the peas. No bueno.
4. The Raised-Bed Garden
Then we did a community garden with some friends on their rural property. The mistake was we tried rototilling the grass. Did. Not. Work. The guys about killed themselves, and after 8 hours hoeing grass by hand we gave up and built raised beds. The plants grew well, but it was quite expensive to build the raised beds and didn’t give us the square-footage we’d hoped for.
This would be a great option if you have scrap wood and somewhat limited space.
5. The Dream Garden
Ok, admittedly I shouldn’t call this the dream garden since we don’t actually know the end results yet, but this year we have our 2.5 acre faux-farm with plenty of room and plenty of sun. We have friends who are gardening gurus so they rented a sod-cutter and cleared the garden space in no time. They filled our windowed shed with seed starts, and we’re well on our way to a bountiful crop.
The way I see it, each “mistake” was a learning experience. Now we know that sod-cutters and sunshine are our friends. That hardiplank siding can bake peas. That zucchini doesn’t belong in pots. And whether you have a tiny balcony or acreage on your hands you can grow something. Here are five simple ideas to get you started:
1. Toilet Roll Starters — Start small. Easy, great activity for kids.
2. Indoor Culinary Herb Garden — Nothing beats having the fresh herbs right there on your window sill.
3. Pizza Garden — One bucket. Tomato, basil, oregano, onion. Too bad pepperoni doesn’t grow from the ground…
4. Square-Foot Garden — This site walks you through a step-by-step process for starting your own small garden. Great resource!
5. The Backyard Homestead — Grow all the food you need on just a quarter acre. I’m fascinated by this.
** More great Gardening 101 resources here.
Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy your gardening experience this year. Choose something that will energize you, not exhaust you. Hopefully all of our mistakes can help set you up for success.
Leave a comment! Share your gardening flops and success stories with the rest of us!
Find more gardening posts here.
Kari Patterson is pastor’s wifey, preschool mommy, writer, speaker, reader, blogger and frugal living enthusiast. She writes all about the beautiful mess of life over at KariPatterson.com.
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Have you heard of the gardening method that’s used in “Back to Eden?” We haven’t personally grown much of anything yet, but I know people who started to garden in this way and found amazing success! You can read about it and watch the video here 🙂 http://backtoedenfilm.com
christy monahan says
In December we bought our first home. We finally have a place of our own and it is on about an acre. I decided to start a garden in early March. In Florida the temp is in the high 90’s by that time of year. We now have strawberries, blueberries, bell peppers, green beans, sunflowers and tomatoes. I also planted corn, carrots, pumpkins (these need a lot of room by the way) and watermellon but none of these have grown any crops yet. It has been so much fun! My boys ages 4 and 5 love to help (especially when its time to pick the veggies/fruit) and my only problems have been some nasty worms eating my corn and not realizing that each pumpkin needs 8-10 feet to grow. I have learned so much about gardening, my patients and my boys 🙂 . Everynight my boys ask god to help their crops grow its really cute. Thx for the post glad I’m not alone in the learning to garden club 🙂
Such great stories of our life! Plant, tend, learn from our mistakes. Plant again. God always has more seeds for us to try again!
Kari Patterson says
Yes. Learning this lesson in so many areas…
Now we are speaking the same language, Kari! Gardening! I love it. I love this time of year, preparing and planting and dreaming about the harvest we will soon receive. This year we will be expanding our garden, not like it wasn’t big enough to begin with, but this year we will be including rows of cane berries and other more permanent plants. I just ordered 9 berry plants to make a 50 foot row and was gifted some Marion berry plants to make another row!! Just that thought makes this girl happy:-) When we plant a garden I always like to plant enough to can, dry and freeze and have some to give away, that makes me happy too! Not to mention I am expanding the lavender field too…I just can’t get enough. Love you, friend…thanks for this post:-)
Kari Patterson says
You are the gardening guru, my friend! How is that you got TWO green thumbs and I have none! 🙂 Love you…