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How to Recover from a Poor Gardening Season

How to Recover from a Poor Gardening Season

How to Recover from a Poor Gardening Season

Remember my ‘Spring in Abundance‘ post? The one where I gushed about my beautiful garden? Well, things can sure change quickly. This has been a frustrating Summer Season for my poor garden. It’s one of those seasons where it seems like everything that can go wrong is going wrong…

  • The seed company I chose gave me mutant tomato seeds that gave inedible freak tomatoes….there goes my tomato canning season! And after my sweet husband bought me this awesome canning pot and canning equipment. Sigh…
  • The seed company also gave me bad other seeds: hardly any carrots or herbs grew from their company, and then I bought awful GMO seeds from the local hardware store and they all promptly grew into plants. Hmm…note to self: never buy seeds from that company again.   
  • From now on I’m going to buy all my seeds from SeedsNow, they have heirloom non-GMO seeds that have done much better for me.  
  • I had to go a long ways away for a family reunion. Half the time, someone I knew watched the garden, and then she had to leave, and I didn’t know anyone else in our area (we are fairly new here), so she found a friend to help…long story short, I came back from my 12 days away to a mainly dead garden from lack of water. I cried. A lot. Goodbye pickles, cucumbers, squashes, beans, half of my herbs, and half of my perennials.
  • After long days of hard work, I managed to save half of my pickle plants from the vacation disaster….which almost immediately got infested with pickle worms. Ewww. 
  • I planted 8 zucchini and yellow squash plants (even though in my how to grow zucchini post, I say to grow 3!), and somehow all 8 of them had only male flowers….aka no squash for me. šŸ™ I cannot change the sex of the flowers, so I felt quite helpless here (these seeds were also from that awful seed company…coincidence?).

There’s probably been other bad things, too, but these are the ones that really hurt my garden harvest. All those months of research, starting plants from seed, having them survive the tender plantling stage….and then disaster after disaster. Any other gardeners have stories like this? I’m sure you do (by the way, if you’re dealing with a bountiful garden season instead, check out my post on dealing with harvest overwhelm).

Pickleworm…eww!

If I am honest here, I will say this: I’ve gone through stages of stubborn determination, grief, depression, tender optimism, and times when I just want to walk away from my beloved garden and not come back. I’m trying to see this gardening season as a positive learning experience. So I made a list of ways to recover from a bad gardening season. Just in case you need to hear some of these things like I do:

 

How to Recover from a Poor Gardening Season:

  1. Learn from it: I took extensive notes: never use that seed company again, plant more tomato varieties, find a trustworthy network of garden helpers, etc.. Oh, and I learned about the existence of pickle worms, something I never heard of before.  I’ll be using a better seed company from now on.  
  2. Focus on the good: I managed to grow romaine, kale, peas, and peppers just fine. I was delighted to find that even though everything else in my garden suffered from my vacation, my watermelon THRIVED. I also managed to bring my beans back from the dead and I have gotten a decent harvest from them still. Woohoo!
  3. Accept what you cannot change: It is not my fault that my zucchini and yellow squash had 100% male flowers. It is not my fault that I had a bad infestation of pickle worms. I must learn to accept the natural ways of the world. 
  4. Compare yourself to others: Find fellow gardeners who have gone through similar bad gardening seasons. Honestly, I poured through fellow gardener blogs/websites (this is a good post) and through facebook groups and pages to read about how other people were struggling in their gardens. It made me feel a positive connection with fellow gardeners. We all have our garden struggles. We all have our bad gardening seasons. So talk to other gardeners and bond over your similar struggles.
  5. Do NOT compare yourself to others: Yep, the opposite of #4. There were many gardeners who posted gorgeous pictures of their happy and healthy gardens. I grumbled and complained about how I did things right, that should be me too! Wah wah wah. Comparing yourself to others in this way is not a valuable way to spend my time. It makes me feel jealousy and it makes me cranky. I need to focus on positive things and NOT negative!
  6. Experiment with your Garden: When I got back from my cursed ‘vacation’ to find that my cucumbers and pickle plants were black and shriveled up and pretty much dead, I thought to myself ‘hmmm…maybe I can bring them back!’ If they were semi-struggling, maybe I would have still been careful. However, I figured that since they were so dead, if I experimented on them, there was no more bad that could really happen. So I pruned them. I gave them crazy concoctions of different organic fertilizers (including epsom salt and fish emulsion). I gave them the most expensive compost I could find at the local gardening store. My experiments were written down carefully and observed….and I ended up being able to celebrate the return of half of my cucumber and pickle plants! From the dead! It was amazing.
  7. Try Different Gardening Ideas: When half of my herbs died, I started researching how to grow them indoors. If I can’t get new herbs grown from seed in the ground in time for winter, maybe I should grow them indoors in containers. When some of my front yard pretty perennials died when I was away, I planted some herbs in their place because that location gets lots of sun. So now my herb garden is going to be part of my front yard pretty plants. We shall see how that goes! 
  8. Remember why you garden: Yes, I garden to provide food for my household. However, is that the only reason I garden? I learned that I needed to remember my WHY. Why do I garden? Well, I personally garden because being in nature nourishes my soul. Gardening gets me in nature. It makes me feel like I am tending nature; that I am helping it and loving it. Even if my plants wither and die, I can find peace and joy in my garden. I can praise the bees and kiss flower petals and nurture the earth. Read my post on Permaculture to learn more about my goals for my yard and my respect for nature.
  9. Learn the importance of a local gardening community: I need to learn how to get involved with local gardeners. I need to meet local people like me who love to garden. We can help each other, more than just for vacations, but for vegetable swaps, swapping praises and horror stories, encouraging each other, and all that entails. If I start meeting gardeners at farmer’s markets, gardening meetings, etc., I could learn more about where to buy better seeds, which varieties grow best for our microclimate, etc. A virtual community is great, but there is something very positive about connecting with fellow local gardeners, too.
  10. Focus on the Future: I’m trying really hard to focus on the future for my garden. I am getting cover crops ready. I am about to add another compost pile so that I have more good soil. I ordered seeds for my fall garden (from a new seed company!). I started writing out my fall garden schedule. I am clearing more land to expand my garden. I am focusing on hope. 

 

I am not perfect. These are great tips for how to recover from a poor gardening season, and I know that I am going to be revisiting this post for this list over and over during the next month. I know I can survive one fleeting poor gardening season. I love gardening too much to let this keep me down.

So tell me….how is your garden doing this year? Do you have any frustrating gardening stories that you want to share? Feel free to add them in the comment section below. I love hearing from you all!

More Seasonal Gardening Tips:

 

How to Recover from a Poor Gardening Season

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5 Comments

  1. That’s really horrid that someone would let your garden die like that! I have had a similar experience – I grow cannabis, and for cannabis you want females only. Well, three of the four plants I’m legally allowed to grow turned up male, and the fourth is a runt, and isn’t growing right. Sigh. I give up. I’m growing bonsai kiwi fruit from here on out.

  2. Last year I bought about 10 , different type of seeds from seeds now nothing came up! Really fustrating!!!

  3. I get very fustrared I start seeds indoors everything sprouts then goes dormint very leggy in the same temperature then everything is too small to transplant out then just dies.If it was bad seed or the temperature was to cold it would not have sprouted. I just can’t figure out what is going on.Any ideas?

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