This follows a series of pieces Amanda is writing about her gardening journey
We asked Amanda for updates about her garden. When spring starts, we all start out with hopes, but they are no guaranteed outcomes. In this update, Amanda gets real about gardening failures.
Failure is difficult. It is especially difficult when you spent approximately November through February of the previous year meticulously planning out your garden. Or when you ride your bike across your neighborhood to pick up a free gardening book from a random neighbor you have never met. Or when you’re clearly so excited for gardening season that a family member buys you the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog for a Christmas gift and you spend hours gleefully going through and circling things like a child with a Toys R Us catalog.
Or maybe it is all those things. And you are writing a garden diary for a non-profit that you know people will read.
But here is the thing. Failure in farming, whether it is as small scale as the pot of grocery store basil slowly dying in your window, to your personal garden, to growing crops for sale, happens. And it is easy to get discouraged. If this growing season had happened to me my first year of gardening, I probably would have given up. Honestly.
But I do not want you to give up. So here, laid bare is a list of my gardening failures for 2020. After, there will be a list of successes, because even in failure, living things find a way to surprise and delight you.
ALL of my tomato and basil starts died from damping off, which is a fatal combination of high humidity and low air circulation. I had over 50 seedlings and not even one made it. And let’s be honest, I’m too proud to buy plants from the store. So, I went without tomatoes or basil this year. All my pasta sauce dreams, gone.
A late frost in 6A decimated my corn. I had planted 16 square feet of garden space with 3 varieties of corn. Two stalks ended up surviving until July- when they were uprooted by wildlife. No blue corn tortilla chips for me.
I did an enormous amount of weed control prep this year with minimal success. Tap root plants are the worst.
Squirrels attempted to murder all my plants, either directly or indirectly. The gardening setup I have right now is not really equipped for deterring squirrels, especially city squirrels.
The only plants that I grew this year were one of three of my carrot varieties, green beans, and black beans. The carrots were almost carrots. Pictured below is my entire harvest. Tag yourself, I am fetal position carrot.
My luffa gourds had a shaky season. Eleven seeds sprouted. Only three made it to being planted. Then, squirrels again. A single plant made it to maturity out of eleven.
Did you know beans are super easy to grow? And super fun to grow? My boyfriend and I eat a lot of green beans, and a lot of black beans, both of which grew and were reasonably prolific.
My wildflower garden/pollinator garden exploded! Sometimes I just go out there and stare at all the little insect species enjoying the flowers. I even have 3 Black Swallowtail caterpillars on my fennel plant as we speak!
The single luffa gourd vine plant that survived is HUGE. One segment of the vine has made it to the roof of my garage which is approximately eight feet up. It has not flowered yet which probably means I won’t have a successful sponge harvest.
I regularly got my cat and all the neighborhood cats extremely high on catnip.
Do not give up. Enjoy your small victories. And rally for next year.
2 thoughts on “Failure”
Do you have any ideas for outwitting the disproportionately crafty squirrels next year?
We asked Amanda herself about this. She writes, “Haha. I haven’t figured that out yet! Gonna spend the winter planning. But without completely rebuilding my beds I don’t have any ideas right now.”