If you think you’re going to try to garden and have 100% success, stop now. Just take a minute to understand something, gardening will contain failures, death of plants, bugs, diseases, and a lot of internet searching. Seriously.
We’ve had two summer gardens here. The first one yielded some things but turned into a weed patch when we brought home a new baby. It’s tough to garden with kids, but summer heat + a toddler + a brand new babe is just not worth it when I can use WalMart grocery pick up. Duh! The summer garden of 2017 was better, but we were not impressed with our harvest. We still had enough to eat and cook with, but I wanted to can more and try a few other things. We were not successful with our cucumbers. I think we grew 5 that we ate and some that we gave to the chickens because they weren’t great looking. The ones that we ate were delicious though.
So what do we think are failures and are we doing differently?
- Moving the garden // Below on the left, you can see that summer garden as it was being planted. From what we’ve learned we think our plants were actually getting too much sun. It was just too hot for them. On the right is where we’re attempting next. Pumpkins are growing in the left 2 rows, tomatoes are between those old posts, and the larger spot on the right has been filled with things for our fall/winter garden. This area still gets tons of sun, but the heat of the day isn’t as harsh here. The soil also is a little sandy so there’s some better drainage.
- Pollinating // See that little eggplant? It died. We don’t know why but we didn’t harvest one eggplant from 4 plants. Talk about feeling defeated. Each time we saw one growing it was such excitement, but it ended in failure. We’re not sure why they didn’t grow but we do think that we need to pollinate the buds by hand because that’s the only time we had any growth. Next summer there will be a lot of hand pollination.
- Bugs // They still give me the creeps. Hornworms will destroy your tomato crop. I don’t even know what some of these bugs are. But there’s so many different types of insects that can wreck havoc on your garden. We’ve started spraying our plants weekly with Garden Safe Neem Oil. It’s been helping so much! I know that we could probably use something more intense but we’re trying to watch what we put on the food we will consume, especially with small children around.
- Water & Fertilizer // This summer was crazy with rain. I think that we actually only watered the garden 1-2 times. Other than that, we were trying to keep it from floating away. Now we’re going to be better about having a schedule for when the plants need extra plant food and when they need water. Watching leaf color is a great indication of a plant’s needs, but we have to be proactive to hopefully prevent them for looking so rough. My poor blueberry bush (in the middle) is pretty far gone. We’ve got others but it still looks so sad.
- Bees // It’s a little hard for me to want to attract bees. Ummm…have you seen My Girl? But I know they are crucial to plants and the circle of life! So I’ve done research as to what flowers and plants bees are attracted to so that they love our land, yard, and garden. We’ve recently found bees in the pumpkin flowers and that is so exciting!!!!
Gardening will forever be a learning process. Forever. But if we learn from the mishaps and mistakes we’ve made, hopefully next year will be more fruitful. The best thing about the time in the garden is the quiet reflection on the creation. None of this happens because of us. We’re just helping things along. But a tiny seed can grow a crop of tomatoes? Isn’t that impressive? It’s really miraculous.
The cultivation of a garden has been challenging and hard work. But it’s been such a reward.
Lara Casey writes in her book Cultivate, “Trust that what you want to cultivate matters enough to allow it to ripen over time as you take small steps forward and some big leaps along the way too.” She uses her gardening life as a lesson for our lives and how we grow. I’ve loved reading this book and I truly appreciate these lessons.
I’m so excited about the future of our little garden projects. The herbs, flowers, vegetables, fruit, and all the possibilities and promise that hard work and some time might have for us.