I stopped gardening for a while. About nine months.
That’s how long it’s taken me to stop moping and grumping and beating myself up for not “succeeding at gardening” — and admit that not everything I plant will grow and flourish. After all, I’m a gardener, not a Norse god.
Granted, all this not-gardening time hasn’t been entirely wasted. I’ve watered plants (or thrown ice cubes at them) daily. I have put some seeds in some dirt. I have thrown a lot of that dirt into my cute little compost spinner thingie, ungerminated seeds and all.
Our patio looks like the set of Gardening 101, the Outtakes Edition.
And that’s okay. I learned a lot about gardening, even if I didn’t learn much about how to garden.
Gardening Successful Failures – and Lessons
Don’t Try So Hard
- Patience is less a virtue and more a necessity.
- Rushing seedlings makes for ticked off veggies (or impatiens…).
- Not everything grows up.
- Not everything grows everywhere.
- Not every seed will make a plant.
Listen to your Instincts
- Gardening slows your heart rate.
- Listen to what the seed wants; seeds don’t write seed packet instructions.
- Talking to plants is fine; arguing with plants is pointless.
- If you hate cucumbers, don’t grow cucumbers.
- Nobody is running around the forest pushing each seed 2/3 of an inch into the dirt.
Plan Ahead but not TOO Far
- It is silly to fill a VegTrug with subpar soil and expect stuff to grow.
- Don’t fill a VegTrug with soil then decide you shouldn’t have positioned it in brutal desert sun.
- Harvest veggies when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.
- Invest in a great hose once or a cheap hose ten times.
- The hose won’t reach.
Fret Less, Not More
- Not all plants want water every day.
- More plants die from drowning than neglect.
- Staring at plants does not make them grow faster.
- When they say to turn compost every few days, they don’t mean every few hours.
- Unless there’s a seven-foot monster eating the seedlings, panic is pointless.
Trust Your Failures
- The supermarket is less than a half mile away.
- Broccoli was not designed to GROW in 104-degree desert air.
- Good soil does not sprout clouds of gnats.
- Raised beds are for your peace of mind, not rabbit control.
- Rabbits can fly.
Sales People Sell Stuff
- Home improvement stores will sell you anything without asking what you need it for.
- Not every gardening invention is your new best friend.
- Life’s too short to mourn a manicure.
- Clean your tools.
- That twelve-foot-wide cedar-walled raised bed looks better in the pictures than it will on your eight-foot patio.
When It’s Time, It’s Time
Over the past nine months, I’ve learned more about gardening than I did during my initial Garden Lass forays. By watching what plants survived my beginner’s luck approaches, by pausing before taking on too many more seed starter sets (and looking at the results of the ones I did take on).
By asking questions and listening to the answers my good friend, Master Gardener Mia Myers of Smart Seeds, patiently gives me.
By sitting on my hands instead of buying new stuff, (“But it’s such a lovely shade of lemon!”) and learning to use old stuff smarter.
Now, two packages of peat pots and a bag of EXCELLENT potting soil lure me, siren-like, back to the potting bench, though I do better at potting when I’m near a sink and can safely lean my elbows on the counter.
I’ve missed the bulk of the Planting Season (whatever that is – some call it Spring), and I still haven’t got any sense of what to plant when and where. But I’m done moping and grumping and griping and beating myself up for my failures.
Now it’s time to begin again.
To more successful failures!
Casey — the Garden Lass