Gardening Mistakes and Lessons Learned

We have been talking this week about the lessons we have learned from our gardening mistakes this year.

This is why:

That is our harvest this week, besides a handful of beans the kids ate up while standing in the garden. (Okay, I ate a few too!)

To give you some perspective, that small purple potato is about the size of a golf ball.

I’m sure there will be more mistakes and more learning, but here are the things we hope to do differently next year.

  • Use plenty of  compost and fertilizer in the soil before planting.

I now understand the importance of enriching the soil for better outcome!

  • Plant more of each item.

Since we are a family of 10, I should have planted an entire raised bed with only beans. That would have given us enough beans for a meal every few days, instead of only a handful each week.

  • Plant earlier.

Some friends are sharing their abundant harvest with us and have told us that they started their garden earlier than we did, and used a special frost cloth to protect the plants from freezing.

Have you made any gardening mistakes this year?

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Comments

  1. A big mistake that I am hoping can be salvaged is planting the apple tree in the front yard *before* reading the care card that came with it and after seeing that the yard held a lot of water, not immediately transplanting it. So really the leaves just look dead. The branches are still supple but I think it’s slowly drowning out there and I am going to put it in a container in the back yard tomorrow. I hope. Or maybe just in the dry ground.

    Another mistake was not being really sure of the sun availability. Of course, we’ve only been in this house less than two months so the spot I picked for the garden may get better sun at different times of the year.

  2. I’m not really sure if I’ve made any mistakes as I’ve not come to harvest much yet. Although not planting my carrots seeds still might count!

    I wondered if you’d considered planting salad of any sort. I had a pack of mixed seeds and a pack of little gem lettuces. The thing i’m loving is that you can cut and come again once they’re established, and it grows back! Now obviously a family of two and a toddler is different to a family of ten, so i’m not totally sure of the dynamics for a crowd that size! But I’ve watered mine about once a day, unless it rains, but I collect water in a 4-pint milk bottle that’s been used up any time I’m running the tap in the kitchen – waiting for it to get hot or cold enough for what i want it for! That way i’m using water that would have just gone to waste.

  3. connie- sorry it was a disapointing garden year. however- you still have time to plant some of the shorter crops to augment your freezer for the upcoming winter. beans, cukes and summer squash especially love the heat, and you’ll have time to harvest crops before frost. okra, too. for a minimum cost, you can do several plantings of beans, and fill your freezer! cukes are short too, some as quick as 52 days! i don’t remember where you live, but this should be very doable- especially if all your helpers water! try miracle grow- on such a small scale, you should be able to do that as well. i’m on facebook, too= “by the bridge” like it and see what we’re up to! happier gardening!

  4. Beatrice says:

    Our gardening mistake was last year actually. We weren’t vigilant in composting to amend the soil and had depleted it quite a bit over the 5 years we’ve been gardening.

    After seeing our pathetic tomato yield (compared to previous years – we still had 15 plants worth), we decided to take the following steps at the end fo the season:

    We covered the entire plot with a layer of about 3 sheets of newspaper and then watered it. On top of this we put a layer of leaves that we had raked, and straw from my mom’s Halloween display. On top of that, we put an entire giant bag (1 cubic yard) a of composted duck poo. I don’t remember why duck. I think it was on sale or we asked the store what they recommended for a veggie garden. On top of that, we put some of that weed barrier cloth to keep any weed seeds from settling. Over the winter, the mound really flattened as the leaves composted and the newspaper broken down. I think the black weed barrier attracked the sun (when there was no snow) and helped to really “cook” things.

    We had a huge issue with bind weed and were hoping to suppress them with the layers of stuff we added but sadly that didn’t really work. The soil itself is lovely and we plan to amend it the same way at the end of the season this year.

    We are in Ontario, Canada and our garden is maybe 5 feet by 20 feet.

  5. We made some really cool raised beds, planted our plants, but then quickly realized our new wonderful hip height beds were too well drained and that much of our soil had eroded from the winds we get on the hill. In short order my husband tilled up the ground and we transplanted 95% of the plants to the ground. Despite having put up a fence to keep out the wild rabbits, much of our plants have disappeared.

    We planted onions, okra, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, steak tomatoes, roma tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, squash, zucchini, basil, rosemary, cilantro, chives,and the list goes on.

    We have harvested 1 small squash, a few grape tomatoes, a few cherry tomatoes and that’s it. Everything else is done or eaten. So disappointed because with a family of 7 I really want to have enough to can, but I know this year we would have had enough to just eat.

    So what I want to know is, sweet Connie that I wish I knew in person, ARE ANY OF YOUR READERS TRYING TO GARDEN AN ACRE OR SO? Because that’s what we really want to do! But we need to kill weeds (we have no grass) and we don’t want to do it with chemicals. We’d prefer staying to the organic side.

    • We live on an acre but don’t garden the all of it. But I wanted to let you know that one of my favorite gardening books is The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook by Cam Mathers. Has tons of great information about how he prepares his acreage for gardening.

  6. I’m sorry that you have had such bad luck with your garden this year! My plants always seem to die, completely disappear, or be the victims of very unfortunate mowing accidents. I hope that next year your garden will be more bountiful.
    I agree with Jennifer. You should definitely look into planting some shorter crops.

  7. Beatrice says:

    Hi Jeri,

    I’ve heard the best way to start a garden from scratch is to get a tarp and cover the area until everything underneath it does then you can pull our the dead stuff or plow it under. I’m not sure how long that takes but I’m sure you can google it.

  8. It looks like a lot of us are being humbled by our growing attempts!

  9. connie – I’m so sorry for you! I know how disappointing it is when your garden just doesn’t do want you want it to. This is our second summer in this house and since we’re renting we really don’t want to spend lots of money amending the soil, so we’ve added things we can get for free – compost, horse and goat hay, leaves, etc.

    I think with a large family – there’s 8 of us and 3 are teenage boys – its hard to determine how much to plant. When I told people that I planted 9 squash and 9 zucchini plants they were surprised. But then the vine borers hit so I’m really glad I planted as many as I did. We were able to eat squash most days for about 6 weeks and even dehydrate a few for soups for the winter.

    The lessons you learned are good reminders for all of us!

  10. I, too, didn’t plant as early as I should have and am still waiting for a harvest. I didn’t realize that some of the potatoes that we threw out last fall had bloomed into plants (thought they were a big weed) and boy was I surprised when I pulled out a couple of tiny potatoes. There are two more similar plants that I didn’t pull but will probably next week to see if anything came from them as they are dying out.

    I am sowing some new seeds today or tomorrow to add into a couple of empty spots I’ve got. I figure if I keep gardening a little bit at a time, I will learn how to eventually. Good luck.

  11. We live in Florida which is probably the same climate as Texas and the gardens are usually in no later than the end of Feb. Some years we have even started the plants indoor for transplanting as early as the day after Christmas, depending on if it is a really cold winter or not. The nice thing is that you can plant again in August or so and get another crop around Thanksgiving or Christmas.

    This year our gardens have done rather well. We mail ordered our seeds this year which I think was a BIG help instead of just getting seed packets from Home Depot. We also started a rainbarrel to collect rain off the roof for use later in the gardens. Right now we have plum tomatoes rolling out of the fridge and we finally ust got through the green bean harvest…. though they only stop producing through the heat and start up again in the fall.

    For a family of four we have a three by six foot bed for pole beans (mixed with bell pepper and marigolds, which are a pest repellant) and another one similar in size for the tomatoes and onions. We also had a couple of watermelon plants that decided to grow this year which we had planted at least a year ago, and might end up with some good watermelons.

    Where we have run into problems in the past was not planting early enough, water problems (too wet or too dry), and not fertile soil. We use cow manure compost to fertilize, and ash from the firepit my husband built…. all that junk mail is great fertilizer. We water through the sprinkler system that does the grass, but if it rains then it gets too wet….(we just put up gutters this year) and early enough, well, getting that done is hard enough. Good luck on that one.

    Come fall we are going to be planting brussel sprouts, and lettuce mixes, cucumbers, and a few others that our agriculture center lists as fall time plants.

    Hope some of this helps. Better luck with the gardens next year.

  12. I posted the link to our yard update today, however, I did write a post about mistakes earlier this year. You can read it at:

    http://shanonhilton.blogspot.com/2011/04/hope-springs-eternal.html

    Thanks for hosting! –Shanon

  13. It is not too late to plant more in your garden. My very first garden was planted in July; seeds straight into the ground. It produced more food than we could eat. I usually begin my garden earlier now but a neighbor, just down the road, always begins his garden in late June. I believe you are in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area? I am in West Texas and Texas usually gets a late freeze so most gardens have plenty of time to produce. If you decide to start a second garden don’t worry about a raised bed, just plant anywhere and water a lot.

    Have you considered a fall garden? Now is the time to begin planning.

    I have found my local county extension office very helpful when I need questions answered. Also, a lot of cities offer free mulch and if you live near any ranches or farms you can probably get more fertilizer than you will ever need free of charge.

    Don’t give up too soon; working in the garden is a great way to relieve stress!

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