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Gardening Setbacks: How to Keep Growing, No Matter What

Gardening Setbacks: How to Keep Growing, No Matter What

In the best of times, gardening is a richly rewarding, joyful experience, but sometimes getting there can be difficult. It’s important to be prepared for the challenges that will come. It’s only natural to get attached to your plants. You’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and maybe even money in them. If something goes wrong, it can be tempting to give up. Let’s take a frank look at the dark side of gardening so you can be prepared and stick with it.

When the Growing Gets Rough

The Survival Garden Seed company garden in Idaho is going through some difficult times, and we’re all trying to figure out how we can help. Fluctuations in temperatures, windy weather, and other circumstances have taken out so many plants. Parts of the garden have been replanted 4 or 5 times, in an area with an already short growing season. Julianne, our garden manager, shows up to report in meetings with a brave face, matter-of-factly telling us the status of the garden and what needs to be replanted. How can she keep going in the face of repeated disappointment?

Expect to Kill Plants

Dead tomato plant

Your attitude and mindset are key to developing the resilience needed to keep going. I am going to share a hard truth with you: you are going to kill some plants. Developing the grit and determination you need to keep going means it’s vital to keep this in mind and always cut yourself some slack. Any skill worth learning takes time and effort, and making mistakes is an important part of the process. The best gardeners kill the most plants because they’re willing to take more risks. Some of those risks pay off in beautiful plants, but others pay off in learning experiences.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Look at gardening as a grand experiment where every failure is a chance to learn. By taking notes on everything you’re doing, you’ll have all the details to troubleshoot mistakes and also learn from successes. You may not even know which things you’ll need to watch for, so keep track of everything you do differently – including varieties, different growing locations, timing, weather, and so on. Feel free to conduct your own tests so you can see what works best for you.

Support from Other Gardeners

Don’t just rely on your own wisdom though. Talk to other experienced gardeners and find out their insights. A trusted mentor, your local agricultural extension, online forums, and friends can all help give you practical advice and moral support to help get you through rough patches. Although Julianne is an experienced gardener who knows the growing conditions in Idaho much better than most of us, she still asks if we have any input that might help when she runs into a problem she doesn’t have an answer to. Although the members of the Survival Garden Seeds team are spread across the US and grow in vastly different conditions, we’ve still been able to help with tricks that worked for us, insights into the situation, and much-needed encouragement when things get tough.

Grow from Seed

Seedlings in starter packs

One of the easiest ways to keep costs down and to give your plants a great start is to grow from seeds whenever you can. One pack of seeds gives you many more chances for success than even a 6-pack of seedlings from the store. You’ll have complete control over the conditions those plants grow in from the very beginning and will be able to have them thriving their permanent growing location a lot earlier in their life. At the end of the year, you can collect seeds from your best plants, which will be more adapted to your growing conditions and allow you to build on your success.

Research & Plan

Gardening is more complicated than just sticking seeds or plants in the ground and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t realize that they’ve picked the wrong plants for their situation or have made mistakes getting their seeds started until it’s too late. Having some background information on the plants you’re growing and whether you can provide them with the right conditions to thrive can save you a lot of heartache and time. Educate yourself in the way that works best for you, but do take the time to do at least some research and planning ahead of time.

To help you get started, we’ve done a lot of research to give you the information on the back of our seed packets – including best soil temperature for germination, expected days to germination, plant spacing, light needs, and any other requirements that you will need to know from the very beginning. We’ve also got some great resources to help you plan, like our Free Survival Garden Growing Guide and Planting Planners, plus our Seed Planting Calendar Tool to help figure out timing.

Be Realistic

Figure out how much time and energy you can devote to your garden and start there. Try to plant things you’ll love nurturing and that you can reasonably expect to thrive in your setting. Don’t overwhelm yourself by planting more garden than you can handle, too far away from your home, in extremely challenging growing conditions. Make it fun so you can stay cheerful, even when things are challenging.

Be Patient

Gardening requires a lot of waiting. Some seeds germinate quickly, but others take their own sweet time and require the soil temperature to be consistently warm. Once seeds germinate, it may take some time for true leaves to develop and a strong root structure to form. You may have to patiently harden off seedlings before putting them in the ground. Asparagus plants take a few years to start producing reliable yields. Give your plants time.

Plan Some Easy Wins

If you are already experienced with some plants and feel confident about them, you can use that knowledge to give yourself some quick success and bolster your confidence while you’re waiting. This might be as simple as growing some easy, fast-growing plants like basil, borage, marigolds, and green beans alongside other plants that are a bit more challenging and slow to develop. This can also help you keep your garden soil active and help fill in bare looking spots in the garden if you’re growing perennial plants.

Gardening is a learning process, filled with triumphs and losses. It teaches the gardener some valuable life lessons, like the importance of adaptability, patience, community, creativity, and perseverance. Whenever you feel yourself losing hope, remember that each step you take brings you closer to a flourishing garden and the goals you’ve set for yourself. Every garden has its challenges, but I promise you, it’s all worth the effort. Keep planting, keep learning, and most of all, keep growing. You’ve got this!

People in vegetable garden