Plants die because gardening isn’t easy. If you feel like the world’s worst gardener, you need these gardening tips for people who can’t garden. You might just find you can get a harvest after all!
By Tiffany, Contributing Writer
My best friend grows zucchini that are bigger than my arm. My dad grows squash in a bed of sand. Me? I’m lucky if the plants don’t die.
If there was an award for the world’s worst gardener, I’m a legit contender. But it’s not from lack of trying!
I turned my do-it-yourself raised box garden bed (galvanized beds last longer than wood beds) into an urban square foot garden this year to maximize space, and we re-use water from the house to water the plants on a schedule. I collect scraps from the kitchen to fertilize the soil both in season and out. I’ve even found natural ways to keep garden pests out of the garden.
But my plants still die.
In fact, I pulled up the remains of three dead plants just last week… and the growing season has barely begun!
I used to think my plants died because I didn’t know how to garden, but after evaluating my first year of gardening, I’ve come to a different conclusion.
Plants die because gardening isn’t easy.
“Cursed is the ground because of you; in sorrow you will eat of it all the days of your life.” – Genesis 3:17
The fact that we have to work hard to grow our own food is by God’s design, so we shouldn’t feel bad that keeping plants alive to produce harvest is difficult.
But that doesn’t mean we should give up! As a fellow black-thumb gardener, I have a few tips I’ve learned along the way that will encourage you to keep trying, and just might help you get a decent harvest too!
Gardening Tips for People Who Can’t Garden
1. Ask a lot of questions.
No one got answers by not asking questions. Talk to friends, family, fellow gardeners, employees at nurseries, read a gardening book … anyone who is willing to listen and answer!
- What brand of dirt did you buy and why? Where did you get it from?
- Do you use fertilizer? What kind and why?
- How often do you water? Does the time of day matter?
There’s no such thing as a stupid question, but be specific so you walk away with concrete information you can actually use. People who garden know it’s not easy, and they’re usually willing to share and help – you just have to ask!
2. Copy what works.
My stepmom planted tomatoes for three years before she finally found a species that grew well in our windy, cool climate. She planted fish heads in the dirt, picked a spot in the yard with the least amount of wind and ended up with the best harvest on the block.
When it was my turn to plant tomatoes in my garden, I followed suit from the type of tomato to the type of fish! What’s the point of duplicating the failures when she figured out what works?
Remember that there’s no prize for reinventing the wheel. Copying other gardeners is working smarter, not harder!
3. Experiment with new ideas.
Did you know that plastic wrap can be used to block wind? Or that milk jugs can be mini-greenhouses?
Or that a 50/50 mixture of sugar and borax (leftover from our homemade laundry detergent) can be used as a barrier to keep unwanted ants out of the garden?
No one told me about these garden hacks – I learned them through experimenting in my own garden.
I also learned that many foods can regrow in water without dirt at all, and it’s now my favorite way to stretch my grocery budget by getting more out of the produce that comes in my CSA box each week!
It should go without saying that not every idea will work, but you’ll never know unless you try!
4. Do what works for YOU.
This is my second year at attempting to grow zucchini (supposedly the easiest vegetable to grow) and it’s not looking good so far. I’ve figured out how to get rid of earwigs (pincher bugs) from the garden and the ants are staying away (using the sugar and Borax trick from above), but the plants are barely growing. If they don’t produce much of a harvest this year, I don’t think I’ll try zucchini again next year… and that’s okay, because I’ve got the tomato thing figured out.
I’m only growing zucchini because everyone else said it was easy, and my family only likes zucchini in these muffins anyway.
Give yourself permission to not “keep up with the Joneses” in gardening, and grow — or don’t grow — what works for you.
If you feel like you can’t garden, you’re not alone! My zucchini might die and my lettuce might grow in water, but it’s what works for me. Get help, try new things and do what works for you!
What about you? Does gardening come easy, or do you find it difficult? Do you have any tips to share with the readers?
Here are more gardening posts on The Humbled Homemaker:
- 5 Reasons to Grow Your Own Herbs
- Grow These 5 Expensive Foods to Save Money
- Simple Gardening on a Tight Budget
- Simple Tips for the Rookie Gardener
The Gardening Notebook by Angi Schneider is a custom printable e-book to help you keep track of everything that is important to you in your gardening. It also includes reference guides for growing various types of produce, and lots of resources for getting the most out of your garden!