5 Improvements to Up My Gardening Game

It’s time to get real.  No one is perfect. ESPECIALLY when you are diving into something new.  Let’s go over some of the gardening mistakes that went down this year and how I plan to learn from them to up my gardening game next year!

It’s been a cold and wet winter season here in central Kentucky and all I want to do is write about my new spring plans for the garden!  But let’s pull on the reigns a little bit and take a moment to discuss what I royally messed up in my first year as a gardener — because there were some biggies!

I will admit that the more I learned about how to care for plants, the more pressure I put on my shoulders to get things perfect and have this picturesque, magazine-worthy garden.

Wow, seriously?  I am literally laughing right now at how silly that was.  It’s safe to say that I was in no danger of Better Homes and Gardens showing up at my door for cover photos ( …still cracking up…on the inside).

I am not going to be too hard on myself because all-in-all it was a good first season, my garden did look nice, and I learned A LOT!  That’s what matters, right?

Alright, here we go.

1. TAKE A CHILL PILL AND JUST WAIT

Calendar with derby day circled

If you read my first post Waiting on Some Warm Weather, you know I was itching to get flowers planted in my shiny new garden space.  Against the advice of the experienced gardeners in the family to wait until Derby Day, I planted phlox and salvia a few weeks before our last frost.

Yes, I can be stubborn.

For those same few weeks, I proceeded to stress over keeping said flowers alive.  Checking the weather diligently every evening.  Running out to cover them. Waking up in the middle of the night, wondering if I remembered to cover them (yeah, it got bad).  Dreading the thought of starting off my FIRST growing season with dead flowers. Well, that would be embarrassing.

Was it worth it?

Well…no.  Not in the grand scheme of things.  I did get a sense of satisfaction knowing that my hard work had paid off and the flowers lived.  But it was hard work that wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place, had I just heeded the advice given.

Moral of the story.  Unless you have a greenhouse or cold frame (I want so badly!), save yourself the stress and just wait.  The flowers aren’t going anywhere.

2. stop slacking on the water

Watering Grass with a Hose

This one almost speaks for itself and ties into the last section in this post. Really, all of these improvements tie into the last section but I’m getting ahead of myself.  I was horribly forgetful when it came to watering my plants. We had a rainy and humid summer to help offset that, but still.  Guys, it was bad.

I am not the morning person I once was, so getting up at the crack of dawn was out.  Evenings after work were hot and mosquito-filled so it took some serious willpower to get out there and water.  Some evenings, five or six (or ten) fresh mosquito bites just did not seem like a fun time.

A few of my plants thrived under the neglect (better believe that those are plants I will be getting again year).  Most, however, did not.  Particularly, those in containers and out of range of the sprinklers and faucet timer that I eventually purchased.

I lost my strawberries, some lobelia, petunias, and my sweet potato vine constantly looked wilted (that usually guilted me into watering).

My advice to future-me?

Only take on what I know I can take care of or invest in a better watering system (that’s the plan for this year).

3. fertilize

OMG guys. If I thought my watering habits were bad, my fertilizing schedule was virtually non-existent.  There really isn’t anything more to say about this except I did give it a try.  Do better next time?

4. Be Kind to the Bank Account

Dollar Bills in Plant

Budget your projects.  It’s difficult to exercise restraint when you are starting an exciting new hobby and you just want to go out and get everything for it!  Fancy tools and accessories and garden decor and “What’s this? Buy one flat of flowers and get one half off!”

No, no.  I’m not projecting…

But if your paycheck doesn’t support an unlimited flow of cash to buy up half of a nursery (and mine does not), planning your gardening projects and sticking to a spending budget can help alleviate a bit of the stress that already comes with learning something new.  I feel like this is applicable to any new hobby.

Don’t worry bank account, we’ll try again this year…

5. Design a Space that Works

Phone compass and gardening planning

Finally, all of the above lessons streamline into just designing a garden space that works with and for you.  And that will probably take some planning.

I personally do not have the time every single day to tend to plants with specific individual needs.  I wish I did. But I don’t.   In my future projects, it will help tremendously to group plants together with similar needs.  Maybe won’t be so worried about whether or not my lavender is getting too much water because the petunias I foolishly planted right behind it are getting the water they need.

Who am I kidding?  I will still stress about it and end up writing a whole new post about how I made lavender candles and soaps to stop stressing about about my lavender…

Anyway…

If you have an area of your garden that doesn’t get hit with regular rain because it’s shielded by the neighbor’s overgrown bush (grumble, grumble) or the eave of your house, then plant something there that is drought tolerant.

Maybe don’t hang a trough planter way across the patio so far away from your main water source and then plant flowers in it that need to stay watered.  I’m just saying…

To be fair, that’s how I learned that my Glitz Euphorbia pretty much thrives on neglect so that’s definitely a win for that little guy.

finally

I know I am bound to mess up something again this year but I plan to use what I’ve learned to make new mistakes, not the same ones.

I am actually taking a pretty nerdy approach to planning out some of this year’s projects that will make my garden much more manageable.   Hopefully, I will get some new posts up about that process soon but until then, here’s to a new season of gardening!

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