5 Epic Gardening Fails (and How to Avoid Them!)

One of my goals for 2018 was to start a nice little backyard garden and start growing my own food. Growing your own food is a wonderful way to reduce your grocery bill and your carbon footprint. I figured it would be an all-around win!

Unfortunately, gardening is not quite as easy as I thought it would be. I failed epically with my garden this spring. Here are my five most epic gardening fails, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and avoid them!

Epic Gardening Fails

1. Failing to weed

My first epic gardening fail was neglecting my garden. I started out on the right foot…I tilled the land three times (and by I, I mean my boyfriend) and cleared out all the weeds before I planted.  But that was the one and only time that I weeded my garden. Now, the garden is overgrown with weeds and I can hardly even open the gate. The weeds are taller than I am, and the task of weeding just seems insurmountable.  To avoid this mistake, make sure you pull the weeds when they first start growing. It’s infinitely easier to pull tiny weeds than it is to grow you-sized weeds.


2.  Not labeling

I’m not a botanist. So I don’t know why I thought I would know what each plant was once it sprouted. I did not. Is this a cucumber or a zucchini plant? Guess I have to wait until it fruits to find out. Is that jasmine or a weed?  I have no freaking clue! That’s actually one of the reasons I didn’t weed…I wasn’t sure if it was a weed or something I planted intentionally! I don’t even remember whether I planted melons or pumpkins! (As it turns out, they were pumpkins) But still, labeling the areas as I went would have made this a whole lot easier. I would have had a better idea of what was a weed and what each vegetable plant was.

3.  Forgetting about seasons

Melons and Pumpkins usually do better in the fall, so why I thought it was a good idea to plant them in the spring in Southern Georgia is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, the pumpkin plant is doing fantastic! It’s growing some wonderful pumpkins! But what am I going to do with pumpkins at the end of July? I also planted some things that don’t grow so well in insane heat. My carrots never had a chance. But I can always try to plant them again at the end of summer! Pro tip: The back of the seed packet literally tells you when the best time to plant is. Don’t ignore it like I did.











4.  Not considering that closely related plants might “hook up”

The one thing my garden produced en masse was zucchini. I grew the biggest, fattest zucchinis that I’ve ever seen in my life!  These suckers were huge!  Some of them were as long as my arm and as thick as a two liter of pop!  Curiously, the seeds in these behemoths were also huge. They almost looked like pumpkin seeds!  And the flesh was a little meatier than a typical zucchini. It didn’t take me long to realize that perhaps I had been growing pumpkin-zucchini hybrids. The zucchini tasted fine though, so maybe this wasn’t as much of a fail as some of my other gardening issues. I just never even though about the possibility of cross-breeding.

5.  Failing to realize how big some plants can get

I fenced off a small area of my back yard for my garden. It’s probably about ten square feet. I figured that was enough space to grow a small variety of garden herbs and vegetables. Unfortunately, I failed to consider how big some of these vegetable plants can get. I also failed to consider that many of them grow out rather than up. I’m pretty sure my two pumpkin plants have overtaken everything else in the garden. It’s actually kind of cute how they grow out their little tendrils and grasp whatever is nearby so that they can continue to expand. I definitely didn’t think they would get that big though. And they definitely plowed over my tomatoes and all of my herbs.

Learning from my fails

I didn’t expect to have a perfect garden on my first try. Honestly, I’m just happy that something grew. And those zucchini pumpkin hybrid guys were pretty good! I also learned to prioritize. I don’t really use melons or pumpkins that much, so having them overtake my garden was quite unfortunate. On the other hand, I use herbs, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes all the time. Planting only the veggies that I use regularly would have made the garden way more beneficial.

 Unfortunately, these gardening fails did limit the amount of use I got out of my garden this year. But now that I know what not to do, I think next year’s garden will be much more valuable! Maybe I’ll even build nice garden beds!

Have you had any epic gardening failures?  I’d love to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with it!

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Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life. 

6 thoughts on “5 Epic Gardening Fails (and How to Avoid Them!)”

  1. Gardening is trial and error. I’m doing my first in ground garden this year and purposely planted zucchini since they’re hardy and prolific. So if nothing else worked out, I could feel good about that. The fact that your pumpkin and zucchinis are coming in is a win! Pumpkin pie (if you like that) is good any time of year. Maybe you could freeze the pie filling for the fall?

    Oh man weeds! I had the same issue in my leafy greens section. I planted arugula, mustard greens, spicy salad mix… and then couldn’t tell it apart from weeds. So I ripped it all up. Maybe I’ll have better luck in round 2 for the fall. As an aside, you can put fabric done to block the weeds. I’ve seen people uses vapor barrier for roofs to gardening fabric that lets water in but not sunlight. I’m planning to try that next year. I’m going to put it down in the fall. Then when I till the garden, you put it back down and cut out sections where you plant things. It’s a thought.

    Best of luck!

    • Ripping it out was probably a good call. Most of mine are now just weeds haha. I’m going to look into those weed barriers for next year, thats a great idea thank you!

  2. Ha love the accidental hybridization! Feel free to send me photos next time – I’ve been at this long enough to be able to recognize most seedlings 🙂

    Also – go back and read my gardening backstory. You’ll feel waaaaay better about your first year haha.

  3. Gardening is definitely all about trial and error! It’s like one big yearly experiment. And sometimes things that do fantastic one year will totally flop the next. Don’t take it too hard, great job getting edible squash! And you learned a lot, so next year will be better, and even better the year after that. What I thought were zucchini seeds turned out to be acorn squash! So I too will have winter squash ready for harvest, first week of August. Oh well, it’s still edible!

    • I don’t even know what acorn squash is haha. And yeah, its definitely been a trial and error experiment.Thanks for the encouragement!

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