Failed Garden: was it worth it?

There's no such thing as a wasted garden experience. Even if the garden isn't fruitful, it's still worthwhile!

Gardening means hard work, sweat, and dirty hands. It means weeks of waiting for that first sun-ripened bite of produce, with the hope of many baskets full to follow.

But what if the garden doesn’t produce as well as you hoped? What if the produce you reap barely covers the cost of setting up the garden? Is it still worth it?

That’s the question I asked myself as I looked around our garden.

Powdery mildew attacked the zucchini and squash plants. Just as they were reaching the zenith of their producing power, they died. Yesterday we had our last stuffed zucchini from this year’s garden.

I had hoped to have a freezer full of shredded zucchini, but that won’t happen. Many of the other vegetables won’t even be producing before we have to go out-of-state for a month. (And we all know how well a neglected garden does in an Alabaman summer!)

Am I disappointed? Yes. Was it worth it anyway? Definitely!

Frustrated with how your garden turned out? Feel like it was a failure? Don't be discouraged! Here are five reasons even a "failed" garden is totally worthwhile.
If you’re looking for an upbeat, hands-on, gardening guide (with realistic pictures of bug-eaten leaves!) check out One Magic Square (affiliate link). It’s my all time favorite gardening book. 

Gardening restores wonder

Planting a seed and watching it sprout, grow, and blossom makes me stand in awe of God’s creation. I believe the world was spoken into existence. Wonder of creation should keep me dizzy with awe. I forget. Easily. Gardening reminds me. That makes a failed garden worth it. 

Gardening is an incredible science curriculum

Seeds are cheaper (and more fun!) than a child’s science textbook and open the door to countless questions about life cycles, biology, and nature. I don’t want my children to think of science as just a dry and boring subject. I want our study of science to open their eyes to the grandeur of the created world. Even a “failed” garden helps me do that.

Gardening helps you get enough Vitamin D

One of my goals for the year was to spend considerably more time outside than in the past. A garden forces you to get outside, breath in the fresh air, and bask in the vitamin D!

Gardening is good exercise

Finding time to exercise as a busy mom is hard. Gardening not only gets you outside, but it is good exercise too!

Gardening encourages gratitude

Finally, the garden was worthwhile because it encourages gratitude. Not only gratitude for the amazing variety of vegetables or a big glass of ice water after an hour’s hard work, but that even if my garden fails, we still have food to eat.

My children will not go vegetable-less because my zucchini died. For that I am very grateful.

Even a failed garden is worth it

Of course every gardener dreams of having a beautiful, bountiful harvest. But even when all the plants dry up or succumb to disease, a garden is still worthwhile because it helps us teach our children, increases our wonder and gratitude, and forces us to exercise outside.

So don’t be discouraged if your garden didn’t live up to your dreams. Even a “failed” garden is totally worthwhile! (And you never know, next year’s garden might be a smashing success!)

photo by Alicia Jo McMahan

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  1. says

    Last year I babied a tomato plant that didn’t produce even ONE tomato for me, haha. But yes, it was worth it. It was a learning experience in so many ways.

  2. says

    We had mildew on our yellow squash last year too. Definitely frustrating, but if each plant yields only one or two vegetables, I don’t count it as a failure. My kids love picking whatever they can. It’s a special moment to get to take each piece of produce from the vine. I find the whole gardening process instructive and refreshing.

  3. says

    So wishing we could have a garden. Our yard does not get enough sun to grow veggies. We have a few tomato plants. Trying a zucchini for the first time this year. A few ornamental herbs…a struggling lemon tree. We do have pear trees (fabulous in fall) and a pomegranate tree (conversation piece if not nutritious). We enjoy what we can…your post reminds me that even if we had a big veggie garden it might not be all that I currently dream, but it would still be lovely.

  4. anna says

    So sorry Mel. I know that feeling too. Last year, we were gone all summer and eagerly planted a fall garden. Unprecedented rains came and it drowned!

    Julie—what did you do to avoid it this year? I’m planning to rotate the crops, but is there anything natural I can put in the soil now?

    KDL-Wow! You may not have a big garden, but what a fun variety! I can hardly wait to try planting some fruit trees once we move to a place of our own. 🙂

  5. says

    A great reminder that there are plenty of other reasons to be thankful for your garden, even when if doesn’t “instantly” work out as planned. I always tell people to work on improving their gardens, but being grateful for all the other things gardening gives us is important too.

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