Home Garden Basics What Failed in the Garden this Year

What Failed in the Garden this Year

by Dawn
common milkweed flowers

Five Things that Went Wrong ~ And How you Can Avoid Them

Last week, I shared five successes I had in my garden this year in hopes of giving you a leg up for next year. You can find that post here.

However, in life and gardening, failures are sometimes even more valuable than successes, so today I’ll share five things that didn’t go so well this year, in hopes that you’ll avoid my mistakes next season.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, do you follow me on Instagram or Facebook? Maybe a private Facebook group is more your style. I’ve got one of those too! Come on over!

This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your purchase price.

Failure #1: PVC Pipe Tomato Supports

Back in 2017, we created PVC tomato plant supports because those commercially available tomato cages just weren’t doing it, and I couldn’t afford the more expensive ones, like these. Don’t get me wrong. The ones I linked to are fantastic, I just didn’t have the budget for them at the time.

So, we placed 3 PVC poles evenly spaced down each side of my row of tomatoes, then strung twine between them. When the tomatoes were small, I placed the twine towards the bottom of the poles, and then as they grew, I added additional layers.

tomatoes with supports
This was the year they worked well

That year, we had ideal amounts of rain and sun (like, literally ideal, an inch of rain a week, it was amazing!). My tomatoes grew like mad (over 6 feet tall!) and the supports worked beautifully.

However, the following year, we had tons and tons of rain and the tomatoes grew like crap, and the supports just didn’t cut it. This year was just the opposite, no rain. Like, none. Again, the tomatoes didn’t do well, and the supports again didn’t work.

I think the reason they worked the first year is that the tomatoes were just so strong and healthy they almost supported themselves, and they just needed a bit of extra help. However, these supports just aren’t enough when the tomatoes need lots of help.

So, hubby is working on a new design for supports for next year. I’ve very excited for this one, I think it’s going to be awesome! And don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to own the plans when we get them all done, so stay tuned!!

Failure #2: Fall-planted Broccoli and Cauliflower

I planted broccoli and cauliflower indoors on July 20th (yup, found that on my Trello board, like I talked about last week in my Garden Successes post). They looked great, and I planted them outside on August 20th, and placed them under a row cover frame to keep out the bugs.

BUT, somehow, within a week, they were totally gone, eaten by bugs!

This is what they SHOULD have looked like!

Now, I don’t think the problem was the design of the row cover frame (something else hubby designed and I’ll be getting plans developed for soon!)

What I think happened is that when I placed them outside to acclimate them, I didn’t cover them. So, by the time I planted them, they already had bugs (or eggs) in the soil or on the plants, and in isolation under cover, they went wild.

Lesson learned: Next year, they’re going under cover the second they get into the great outdoors!

Failure #3: NOT Covering some of my Butterfly Host Plants

We talked a bit about my successes with planting butterfly host plants this year in my last post, but I had one glaring failure.

Towards mid-summer, I purchased some rather pricey common milkweed plants because I wanted to grow more of them and I had very little success growing them from seed.

common milkweed plant
This is what they were SUPPOSED to look like!

I planted them and then promptly forgot about them. About a week (maybe 2) later, I went to check on them and they were almost completely gone, eaten down to the stems with no leaves left! One had a caterpillar on it longer than the stem that was left!

Yep, if you’re going to plant butterfly host plants and you already have that type of caterpillar in your yard, be sure to cover them until they get big enough to support those caterpillars! Otherwise, the voracious little beasts will eat them down to nothing in absolutely no time at all.

Failure #4: Using Soaker Hoses for Irrigation

I *thought* soaker hoses were the best way to go. In fact, I even talked about them in this post from awhile back.

I still believe using soaker hoses, in some instances, might work. BUT, they were a big fat epic failure in my garden this summer.

Maybe I should qualify that just a little. The soaker hoses were perfectly adequate for my potatoes, sweet potatoes and zucchini. However, they didn’t provide nearly enough water for my cucumbers and tomatoes.

drip irrigation
This is what I’ll be using next year

The other problem with them was that my water pressure, no matter how gently I turned on the water, kept blowing holes in them! It was really frustrating. We have well water, so have a fair amount of sand in our water (even with the filter in the basement), and the sand kept clogging the hoses as well.

All in all, they just didn’t work for me. Not to say they won’t work for you, but they weren’t adequate for my needs.

Next year? I’m looking into a drip irrigation system like this one. The initial investment is going to be higher than soaker hoses, but if we have another super dry year like this one, I believe they’ll be a requirement.

Failure #5: I Didn’t Acclimate my Seedlings Enough

Yep, even after I talked all about acclimating seedlings in this post, I made the mistake of not doing a good enough job myself.

Most of my seedlings did fine, but my peanuts and loofahs were set back quite a lot. The loofahs, in particular, really suffered and were set back by probably a month. What this translated into is that they have just now started to blossom and set tiny fruit, but we’re due for a frost any day now, so they’re much too late this year.

LED grow lights
This picture just doesn’t show how incredibly intense these lights are!
But, you can see the red and blue wavelengths of light, which are
what plants use to grow and flower (or fruit!)

Next year, I’ll follow my own advice and do a much better job of acclimating all my seedlings to the great outdoors. One way I’m going to accomplish that is by placing them under my LED grow lights for a week or so before placing them outside.

Right now, I have mostly fluorescent lights, which work fine to get things going, but aren’t nearly as strong as sunlight. However, LED’s are much better suited to acclimation as they’re very strong (like, surface of the sun bright, I can’t even look directly at them!).

Looking for some LED grow lights for your indoor growing? You can find the ones I bought here. They’re much pricier than fluorescents, but use less electricity and mimic sunlight much better.

NOTE: I would suggest waiting for Black Friday to see if Amazon puts them on sale. I got mine during Amazon Prime Days this summer and they were somewhat cheaper that way.

I hope today’s post on my gardening failures this summer was helpful for you, and might save you from some of the same mistakes. Please pin one of the images below to one of your Gardening boards for future reference, and feel free to share this post on any social media platform you’d like if you’ve found it helpful.

As always, thanks for reading, smile, and have a crazy organic day!

Posts Related to My Gardening Failures this Year

garden failures pin 1
garden failures pin 2

Five Things that Went Wrong ~ And How you Can Avoid Them


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Frances 11/12/2019 - 10:11 am

I have been very pleased with these grow lights

45W LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants Growing Lamp 225 LEDs UV IR Red Blue Full Spectrum
single pack

Hytekgro LED Grow Light 45W Plant Lights Red Blue White Panel Growing Lamps for Indoor Plants Seedling Vegetable and Flower (2 Pack)
double pack

(Pack of 12) Barrina LED T5 Integrated Single Fixture, 4FT, 2200lm, 6500K (Super Bright White), 20W, Utility Shop Light, Ceiling and Under Cabinet Light, C

*Comment edited to remove Amazon links and prices. Thanks for your contribution!

Sarita 11/04/2019 - 7:30 pm

So refreshing to read about someone else’s garden fails. Thank you for your honesty and your advice. If I were to write about my gardening failures it would be an entire series!!!

Dawn 11/09/2019 - 6:22 pm

Hahahaha! Don’t worry, I could definitely write a series on my failures over the years. The thing is, though, every failure teaches you something so you (hopefully) don’t make the same mistake again (you just make a NEW mistake!)

Nikki Gwin 11/02/2019 - 2:57 pm

I have never tried soaker hose in my vegetable garden, so your failure helps me know that with our hot summers, they probaby won’t work for me either. Thanks for that. I’m still looking for a good way to water my veges.
🙂 gwingal

Dawn 11/09/2019 - 6:21 pm

I’m really hoping that drip hoses are the way to go. We shall see!

Linda Carlson 11/02/2019 - 1:28 pm

Interesting and very informative. I have never used soaker hoses. Always afraid of the not knowing..


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