Dealing with garden failures

We can all have a good tee-hee about someone else’s gardening foo-foos and learn from them too. Take some of mine, for instance…

First, to all the grads out there:

Don’t worry if your grades are low, and your marks are few;

Remember that the mighty oak, was once a nut like you.


And a little joke for the gardeners…..

Q: What did one strawberry say to the other?

A: “We wouldn’t be in this jam if we hadn’t been caught in the same bed together!”


As a footnote for the last column on weeds, I left out an important method of controlling them, which is using a good, organic mulch.

This will also trap and hold moisture, protect the soil surface from harsh weather, feed the soil food web, give your plants a healthy slow-release fertilizer and provide food for other critters like snails, who may dine on the mulch instead of your vegetables and flowers.  Also, landscape fabric does a poor job of controlling weeds (as well as suffocating the soil food web) and can become a nightmare to extract plants from, so I don’t recommend it.

Now on to the subject at hand…..

Whenever we have a few minutes at home and want to have a bit of a laugh, we google up the “fails” of whatever subject we want (ie sports fails, etc.)  Not only is it good for a chuckle, but it’s also a great way to learn from other people’s mistakes and mishaps.

I think there should be a new category called “garden fails,” so we can all have a good tee-hee about someone else’s gardening foo-foos and learn from them too. Take some of mine, for instance…

I have six major gardens coming up the driveway and around the house and all of them have failed for different reasons.

Two of the beds have rotten wood boxes, others have had plants take over and one is totally lost to weeds and raspberries.

All of these problems could have been prevented and avoided, so the best way for me to deal with these disasters is to learn from them and start over.

This year I got around to deconstructing then properly reconstructing, my once beautiful, trellised veggie garden, which consisted of four 6 x 4-feet boxes as well as a lovely stone flower bed at one end, totaling 35-feet in length. This mega project was the first redo of my garden fails, using all the tricks I’ve learned along the way and also learning where I went wrong in the first place.

This is how I tackled it.

After I removed the rotten wood, the five 8-foot high trellises and the stones from the flower garden, I dug out the entire area, right down to the subsoil and used that material as fill somewhere else.

I could see that the ‘soil’ had become dirt because no organic matter had been added to it for at least two years, and not one worm or bug was found.

Clearly the soil food web had not been fed and all the critters either starved or moved out, so it’s clearly important to keep that organic material up to maintain a living soil.  Next I cut the grass away from the beds and put down a long row of 2-inch thick patio pavers as a 20-inch wide sidewalk and weed barrier along the front and under the stones of the flower bed.

Then I replaced the wooden boxes for the rot-proof cinder blocks, using clean sand for levelling and draped them with easy-to-cut Dinoflex mats, which covered the holes so nothing would fall or grow into them.

I also dug down deep around the blocks and lined the outside and inside of the beds with the mats for an extra weed barrier, as well as placing a thick layer of paper on the floor of the beds, so no wandering roots could come up.

The posts were dug in and the trellises then attached to them.

Finally, the beds were filled with beautiful new soil and voila – a lovely new garden that’s pretty fail-proof.  That’s one down and five more to go.



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