Garden with Attitude

“Garden with attitude,” Lolo Houbein urges in her lovely gardening book “One Magic Square.”

What does she mean? Be spunky. Keep trying. Keep learning. Don’t expect perfection (especially if you choose the organic route!)

Gardening isn’t like baking a cake. You can’t just follow a good recipe and expect perfect results every single time.

The gardener contends with soil-borne diseases, pests, floods in springtime, and drought in the summer with the hope of a bountiful harvest. It’s worth every bit of sweat, but gardening takes attitude.

I thought marigolds were fool-proof. Apparently not. This article about dead-heading saved the day for our marigolds. 

Garden with attitude

Keep trying

Not every seed is going to germinate. Not every seedling will survive.

Don’t let failure get you down. If your seeds don’t sprout, try again. If slugs decimate your just-sprouted seedlings, try starting them inside. Once your seedlings are well-established, try again.

If your bean plants just won’t grow this year, at least you got to enjoy time in the sun and fresh air. Plant something else and try beans again next season.

Perseverance is as big a part of gardening as planting and weeding. Sure, some things you planted may not pay off, but other might be crazily successful.

Transplant lesson 101: Check transplants for bug infestations before planting. Thankfully we caught the aphids in time to rescue most of the plants!

Keep learning

There’s SO much to learn about gardening: about what plants do best together, about how to make your petunias (a great companion plant!) keep blooming, about which bugs you should encourage, not squash, on sight.

If you find something that works great, store it away for next year. If an idea fails, well, you’ll know what not to do next year.

Someday, after years of gardening, maybe you’ll be able to see a suspicious spot on a pepper leaf and know instantly what to do. For now, just keep consulting great gardening books, looking up pictures on the internet, and asking gardeners for advice.

Rose in her garden spot. The poor zinnia on the right and the seeds we planted in the back are barely surviving a bug attack. Hopefully they survive!  

Don’t expect perfection

Slugs made holes in my zinnias, I can’t find a single spinach plant I planted, and some of my tomato leaves are curled. It’s okay. I refuse to coat them in chemicals so will just keep trying to see what works.

I’m not gardening because I want to submit pictures of my gorgeous beds to Better Homes & Garden. I garden because I want to grow fresh organic food for my family, because I want to be just a little less dependent on the grocery store, and because it’s fun to soak up the fresh air and sunshine in God’s beautiful world while marveling at the beauty of green life.

The many imperfections are a good reminder that we can’t control everything. Gardening may not be as easy as making a cake, but fresh home-grown fruits and vegetables are well-worth the extra effort.

Like most things in life that are worthwhile, gardening requires “attitude.”

[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]

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  1. says

    And it looks like at least one child is greatly enjoying the gardens. 🙂 Have fun and hopefully they’ll do well for you.

  2. says

    Thanks so much for the coffee grounds tip! I just saw a slug this morning on our garage wall and wondered if this who’s been damaging my zinnias, dwarf Siberian kale and tender seedlings. Then I saw your post. I’ll take that as confirmation, and we do have coffee grounds. Good to know!

  3. says

    Thanks for the encouraging post. Every year I learn something new about gardening (unfortunately, I often forget by the following year). I also often think that about 20 years from now I’ll be able to benefit from all my years of mistakes by being an awesome gardener. Maybe by then I’ll have time to devote to a proper garden as well.

    • anna says

      It’s amazing how easy it is to forget! But I do find myself slowly gaining a more thorough understanding of how things work… and like you, hopefully in 20 years I’ll have the time and wisdom to grow a bountiful, beautiful garden. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. says

    I think your basil looks wonderful, and your tomato plants too! I wouldn’t worry about the spinach – it is notoriously hard to grow. I grew some, and thought I was successful, and then suddenly it got hotter than the mid-60’s and off it bolted, turning bitter. I’ve learned to say, “Oh well,” a lot.

    Now what is interesting this year in my garden is that I’ve had a lot of volunteer plants pop up that were/are successful, like a chioggia beet from a seed I planted last fall, or three pumpkin plants from some decomposing pumpkins my husband threw outside last year. And the sage that I wasn’t sure had made it through the winter is now over 2 1/2 feet wide in diameter. I think it’s best to look at gardening as an experiment, have faith, and let it surprise you, because it will.

    • anna says

      “it’s best to look at gardening as an experiment, have faith, and let it surprise you, because it will.”– I love the way you put that! It’s definitely been a good lesson for me in so many areas… like I can’t control all the variables and sometimes you plant in hope and it fails and you just have to keep trying and move on. 🙂

      I’ve been reading through the prophets and it’s amazing how much more all the gardening allusions hit close to home when you have a garden you care about. 🙂 I’m so grateful the grocery store is there as a back-up in our days!

      Oh, and thanks for the encouragement about the spinach. I was really bummed… but oh well!


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