Gardening is one of the top prepper skills needed for survival. Learning how to grow your own food is not something you want to do after a disaster has happened. I can speak from experience when I say there is a lot to learn and you will make a lot of gardening mistakes. Better to make them now when your world is pretty stable than when you’re just trying to survive day by day following a worst case scenario.
If you count my first year (which I often don’t), this will be my fourth year gardening. In those three years of growing and trying to grow food, I have made a lot of mistakes. I am very glad for each and every one of those mistakes, because otherwise, I would not have found out what I didn’t yet know. Let me share those mistakes with you and maybe you can avoid them!
Year 1 Gardening Mistakes
Where to begin?
- I planted too much.
- The bed was too big.
- I started all the seeds on the same day.
- There wasn’t enough water.
My first try at gardening was in a fairly large raised garden bed in the corner of our backyard. I planted pumpkins, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, strawberry plants, peas and some herbs – all by sowing seeds at the same time.
Now I know that each part of the country has a planting zone and there are many charts to tell you when to plant, what to plant, and what to start indoors. These tips about starting plants from seeds are very helpful. As things started growing, I soon realized that the pumpkin vines were going to wind their way through everything. I also couldn’t tell the plants from the weeds. There was so much in the garden that I had to wade through the garden to get to the plants in the middle!
I still had hope even after I realized the garden was a bit crowded – and then a drought hit the area. We tried watering for a few weeks, but our water bill was outrageous. We let the garden go and besides a few strawberries, we got nothing from the garden but lessons to take with us into Year 2.
Year 2 Gardening Mistakes
Again, my mistakes were many:
- Some seeds were planted late.
- I planted too much, again.
- I didn’t check for predators every day.
- I wasn’t prepared to succeed.
The next time we tried gardening, we had moved to a different state. My husband built four 8-foot by 4-foot beds and we filled them with dirt. I researched everything we wanted to plant to see when and how we should plant them. I created a timeline so I could check off what we needed to do.
So far, so good.
However, we barely got the seeds in the mail in time to start the tomato seeds inside, which meant the pepper seeds started inside were about a month late. (We did not get a lot of peppers that year.) I had a lot to do and check on during that spring and summer for a first-time gardener (I still don’t count that first year.) I still had young children to tend to, activities to get us to, and vacations to take. Each plant had something different to teach me, but I didn’t have time to learn from all of them.
We didn’t find the hornworms until they had devoured several tomato plants. The Japanese beetles attacked the pumpkin plants severely. We beat them back once we found them with Neem oil, but the damage had been done. We should have checked the plants every day, but we didn’t. It’s very humbling to watch see so much of your hard work undone by a little beetle!
Overall, the garden was a success that year, despite my mistakes. That, in itself, led to another mistake – I wasn’t prepared for success. I knew we’d learn a lot, but I didn’t realize we just might grow a lot. I didn’t have the recipes or equipment on hand to harvest and use everything we grew. I ended up giving a lot away to friends. It was stressful trying to not waste what we grew. I stocked up on mason jars and cookbooks that next winter!