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Monday, February 9, 2015

Top 10 Gardening "Fails"

Gardening is fun but challenging.  New gardeners are often intimidated.  They fear making errors or killing plants.  Well, I’m here to tell you, every gardener makes mistakes.  It is ok to make mistakes!  Mistakes are how we learn and improve.

In addition to human error, sometimes disaster strikes in the garden.  Wind knocks over trees, ice kills off your favorite perennial, insects eat... well, everything...

New gardeners, you are not alone! To prove it, here is a list of my top ten garden “fails”:

10.   I planted cucumber seeds behind tomato seedlings in the vegetable garden.  The result: the tomatoes grew faster than the cucumbers and shaded them out.  No cucumbers that year!  Plenty of tomatoes though.

9.    I often pour too much water into my potted indoor plants.  This results in a minor flood and a mess to clean up.  The worst part of this is that I’ve done it over, and over.

(My aloe and Douglas Adams' potted petunias share similar thoughts.)
8.    When I was a child my mother told me to do something for her in the garden.  To this day, I don’t know what she actually said.  But what I heard was “prune the bushes.”  I went around and dutifully pruned her small evergreen bushes.  She was so mad when she caught me! Fortunately, none of them died. But many were lopsided from then on.

7.    I saw these beautiful broad-leaved evergreen bushes at the nursery with white bell-shaped flowers.  They were called Pieris Japonica.  I purchased them and planted them in front of my house.  They did well all summer, but died through the winter.  The next summer, I tried it again. I added peat to the soil this time.  When winter came, I sprayed the leaves with this waxy spray to help prevent the leaves from drying out.  They died again anyway.  Their label said they were hardy to zone 5.  Somehow, I don’t believe that.

6.    I read somewhere that a baking soda solution could help treat black spot on leaves (/cough/ Jerry Baker’s book /cough/) .  My mock-orange bush had developed some spots, so I decided to try treating it with the baking soda solution.  BIG MISTAKE!  The leaves immediately turned brown and all fell off! Thankfully, mock oranges are tough, so the leaves grew back.  But imagine if I had done that to a rose bush! 

5.    I had a lemon verbena plant in the garden.  In the fall I potted it up in an attempt to over-winter it indoors.  It made it alive through December.  But then disaster struck in the form of aphids!  Within a matter of days the plant was sickly looking and the leaves fell off. I tried to spray it down with water, to remove the aphids.  But it still died.

4.    At my current house, my apple tree got run over by my neighbor as they came down the icy hill in the front of the yard.  For more detail see my previous blog entry:

Fat & happy Malawian locusts.
3.   At my former house, I had a liberty apple. It was planted towards the side of the yard, and nowhere near a power pole.  Even so, DTE came out to work on the electric line and somehow managed to run over my poor apple tree!   I am starting to fear that my apple trees are doomed.  Even so, I’m going to try planting one more at my current home.  Because I love apples!

2.    When I lived in Malawi I had a garden in my back yard.  When dry season arrived, the land surrounding my home was mostly brown and dry, while my small garden was damp and green from watering.  The local grasshoppers found it irresistible.  While I was out one day, they arrived en masse and devoured most of the plants down to numbs within a matter of hours! Seeing my predicament, the local children helped me to pick the grasshoppers off of the plants.  Some of the children took them home to roast and eat.  How to handle a locust plague in Africa: Eat them before they eat you!

1.   One fall I headed out to do some yard clean up.  I saw that many of the perennials had turned brown and scraggly, so I worked at cutting them down.  I didn’t realize that the local bees were still pollinating some of the asters. When I went to cut them down, I was immediately stung in the thumb.  When I turned to run away, the bees chased me.  They stung me once in each butt cheek!  That’ll teach me to go cutting down a bee’s favorite food source!

Forget "Angry Birds"! I have angry bees!

I hope that this post gave you a bit of a laugh and also convinced you to never give up gardening!

If you have a moment, please consider visiting one of the links to the charitable organizations to the right of this post.  Some of the sites ask for a donation.  Some only ask you to help by clicking a link.  It only takes a click to make the world a better place!

Spring is coming soon!   

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