All Things Gardening forum: Gardening failures and goofs ?

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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
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CarolineScott
Oct 4, 2017 8:47 AM CST
Sometimes we experienced gardeners give the impression on these forums that everything turns out right for us. That is certainly not true, and we all experience failures and mistakes.
So as a service to newer gardeners, let us share some of our own mistakes.

I had several this past season. One is that I mistakenly used a pail of Gypsum thinking it was bone meal.

Several Eggplants were planted in with petunias in containers, and the petunias just swamped the eggplants.

Geraniums were planted in containers with pepper plants, and the geraniums just over grew the pepper plants.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Oct 4, 2017 9:11 AM CST
The most recent 'goof' was to use the free mulch offered by the county. In the past it had always been good quality but the last batch just about killed everything it touched. I have learned that free is not always good and now buy bagged soil. Save that free mulch for the perimeter areas where food does not grow.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Frenchy
Falls Church, VA (Zone 7b)
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Frenchy21
Oct 4, 2017 11:05 AM CST
@carolinescott what a great idea to share some of our 'goofs'. Thumbs up This could help all of us here. Thanks for starting this thread nodding
[Last edited by Frenchy21 - Oct 4, 2017 1:25 PM (+)]
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Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
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plantmanager
Oct 4, 2017 11:15 AM CST
I bought a pot of Calla lilies and enjoyed them, but then they died and I tossed them out. Now I know they will return again when the time is right, and I've had a pot of them for over 15 years. I did the same thing with the first Caladiums I bought. When they died down, they went into the trash. Sighing!
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Name: Frenchy
Falls Church, VA (Zone 7b)
Container Gardener Dog Lover Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Tomato Heads Hostas
Tropicals Annuals Foliage Fan Aroids Cactus and Succulents Sempervivums
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Frenchy21
Oct 4, 2017 11:21 AM CST
Early on when I had just bought my house it was totally bare of shrubs, trees or any plants. So I bought and planted some trees and 5 bushes not knowing to check their final size at maturity. Everything was TOO BIG for my small yard Crying Now I know to check mature sizes on all plants I buy Sticking tongue out
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Oct 4, 2017 1:12 PM CST
I made a lot of soil for the framed beds 2 years ago. Good stuff. But I had problems. It struck me last week I hadn't checked the soil pH.

About 5.5... OMG! I'm amazed I got any cukes and beans at all. The stubby carrots were very tasty though.

I feel sort of humiliated.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Oct 5, 2017 1:09 PM CST
A garden plan is never forever and everything is fixable. When my husband and I moved into our first 'forever' home, I had a 20 year plan for landscaping (it was 3 acres). What I discovered:

I didn't like my first plan... Or my second, or third. Smiling My 20 year plan was never completed, even though we moved away in year 30. Don't be afraid to re-arrange or even just start over.

Now, in my second 'forever' home for the last 4 years, I took a year to think about it so the plan hasn't so much changed as evolved towards something new. I have dug up a couple trees and moved them 3 feet that way...

My elderly friend shared this story with me: When she was a newlywed, she planted an entire garden of Cosmos. As weeds appeared, she pulled them, always being careful to weed around the little ferny plants she assumed were her Cosmos. At the end of the summer, she had a beautiful crop of tumbleweeds. Rolling on the floor laughing Lesson learned: Know what your seedlings are supposed to look like.

Last lesson learned: Marry a patient man. Whistling

Edited to add: Put the raingutters up BEFORE you plant under the eaves.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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[Last edited by DaisyI - Oct 5, 2017 1:10 PM (+)]
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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Weedwhacker
Oct 6, 2017 11:47 AM CST
Caroline, I agree that this thread is a good idea !

I posted elsewhere about my epic failure at onion growing this year (despite the fact that I've been successfully growing them for many years). I started my plants from seeds (indoors), which I've been doing for quite a few years now, and that part went fine. But, between the very rainy weather that we had in the spring and early part of the summer, and having too many other projects going on, I planted the onions out very late (not until the end of June, actually), and thought at the time that they might not "bulb up" very well because of that. To make matters worse, I didn't keep them well weeded. Recently I harvested them, and, of the 250 plants that I put in I think about half of them survived at all -- and half of the survivors are only "scallions." The rest range from very small bulbs to small bulbs. D'Oh! Sighing! Ah well, next year will be different (probably as in, something else will go wrong Hilarious! )

Going further back in time, when we first moved to this house (27 years ago!) I was anxious to put in a nice perennial flower garden. I carefully planned it out with all sorts of lists and charts, selected plants that would bloom at various times and were of various heights, etc etc. Tilled up the spot that we decided to use, and planted a LOT of daffodil and other spring-flowering bulbs, and then a bunch of perennial flowers - some started from seed and some purchased as plants. Fast forward a few years and the garden was terribly overrun by weeds and grass (and still remains a struggle -- in fact, my projects for this fall and next spring include digging out pretty much all of the perennial plants, leaving the daffodils, and filling in with annuals. The moral of the story -- when you're starting a garden bed in a new area, plant it with annuals for a few years so you can cultivate it and improve the soil... THEN plant the bulbs and perennials. Smiling
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Oct 6, 2017 12:19 PM CST
Failures:
Planted seventy some corn kernels. Three varieties.
Three came up.

Over a dozen new roses, four still alive.

One full bunch of onion plants.
Three still alive.

Tomatoes
Some disease persisted all summer.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Oct 6, 2017 4:51 PM CST
RpR -- any idea what happened with the corn, roses and onions?

Not the best summer, weather-wise, in the northern midwest!
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Oct 6, 2017 9:50 PM CST
Weedwhacker said:RpR -- any idea what happened with the corn, roses and onions?

Not the best summer, weather-wise, in the northern midwest!

Actually NO!
I transplanted the few corn plants with some my cousin brought over using methods normally doa, and while they did not thrive they looked oddly healthy, lived and produced a few cobs showing really no stress.

Roses, makes no sense.
Weather was not adverse. Plenty moisture and not overly hot.
I do think maybe a bag of Just Natural I used while planting in several areas just to see how good that crap----, so many are infatuated with, raised garden, raised garden, raised garden, yadayadayada ----was, may have been the reason.
NOTHING and I mean nothing I used it with did not act like it did not wish it was some where else for a month.
BUT- rim shot-- the established roses also looked like they were not sure they wanted to live or die, with some dying, after being uncovered in spring looking very, very healthy.
Nothing had rhyme or reason all spring and into June.

Onion, zero reason. Same basic soil as last year when I had the best onions ever. They just died one by one and disappeared. I could not even pull them out to look at the roots.
Chiles planted in the same soil did real well later in the summer.
One could blame weather but for Minn. there was no real adverse weather.

Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Oct 6, 2017 10:56 PM CST
My repeat offense was planting too many plants that got way too large, too close to each other. They would crowd each other and look silly within two years. I swear there are plants in my back yard that have been moved by necessity 5 times at least. I was too impatient and wanted things to look finished, right away. No more. I finally learned to take it slow and enjoy the fact that gardening never ends, and is forever changing.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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CarolineScott
Oct 7, 2017 8:14 AM CST
Well said Laurie !

Gardening is more about the process than the product for me.
Name: Gary
Wyoming MN (Zone 4a)
hostasmore
Oct 7, 2017 6:29 PM CST
Yes that desire for instant beauty means I still plant things too close together and do not take mature size into consideration. I do have a handy shovel and very friable soil. Which means it is not too much work to move plants. Then the problem becomes but where?
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Oct 7, 2017 10:18 PM CST
Well, I have more. Rolling on the floor laughing I mean a lot more. I have dug up what I thought was a perennial popping up where it shouldn't in spring, and let it get over 4 feet high until my friend, while laughing her smartypants little behind off, told me I had spent half a day repotting the horrible queen ann lace invasive weed. I have bought new plants, and forgot them on the front porch and in my trunk. I have somehow dribbled a bit of roundup in a drip drip drip effect on my husband's green well cared for grass. The incriminating bread crumb like trail started immediately outside the garden shed door, and went in a nice straight line to the back door of the house. My favorite path..... When my husband noticed the brown spots the size of oranges bobbing thru the lawn, I was like Whistling Whistling looking away, and Whistling but since the shed is mine, I was totally busted. And now I believe I have embarrassed myself enough. Rolling my eyes.
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Oct 7, 2017 11:08 PM CST
I planted a ring of garlic in our front garden bed to keep the voles out. It seemed to work, but later I learned that store-bought garlic is risky, it could infect the soil with a fungus of some sort.

https://www.seattletimes.com/p...
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Oct 8, 2017 5:59 AM CST
Not realizing how fast trees grow. When I first moved here, my backyard was full of junk trees (thorny locust and river birches), but I slowly removed them. The neighboring yards were all clear.

Now they aren't. The yard east is birches right to my property line and I don't get sun in the morning. The yard south has quaking aspens shading the garden. The West yard has massive sweetgum trees (which I knew were there at the start, but were not "quite" blocking my sunlight. But they are even taller now.

At midsummer, the afternoon sun is above the sweetgums, but at best I get 4-6 hours sunlight now.

Every Fall, it makes me want to move. I've explored that, but a property large enough to assure sunlight means well water (and the taste is awful even when filtered) and septic tanks (a real pain), and loss of fiber optic internet.

It isn't even a question of money. Its a balance of modern conveniences like city water and internet vs space. It seems no money can get me both!

I wonder how much salty water would kill a few of the right trees to get me more light. I know which ones.

I would be willing to start over on the right property...
[Last edited by Yardenman - Oct 8, 2017 6:03 AM (+)]
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Name: Beth J
Oberlin, OH (Zone 5b)
Cottage Gardener
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Midwestbeth
Oct 8, 2017 5:12 PM CST
I love all of the goofs! I am a newbie gardener and can stand to learn a lot from you all. I'm all ears! I started my first garden last fall and bought whatever was on sale. Well they all turned out to be bright, super bright garish yellow plants, except for a few lovely purples. I toughed it out this summer but just did my first major transplant to the way back of our property with those yellow plants. I bought more plants, begged from friends and went to plant exchanges. Next summer my garden should hopefully be the pinks, purples and blues I want!!
Name: Liz Shaw
Gilbert, AZ (Sunset Zone 13) (Zone 9a)
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LizDTM
Oct 8, 2017 7:06 PM CST
This spring was my first vegetable garden. I listened to the guys at the nursery who told me not to put anything into the ground until mid-March (last frost date). That shortened the growing season to 2 months, and my plants didn't make it. I'm not listening to them again. March has average daytime highs in the 70s, hitting the 90s by the end of the month. Overnight lows rarely drop below 40, and if it does, it would do so right before dawn very briefly.

And I'm not going to be scared of February either. According to Accuweather, Phoenix averages a daily maximum temperature for February that's between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 24 degrees Celsius). The minimum temperature usually falls between 46 and 51 °F (8 to 11 °C). The thermometer dips to 40 °F (4 °C) or below on an average of 2 nights. February has just two nights a decade when the temperature drops to freezing. (And again, that would be right before dawn.)

And what does Accuweather say about January? Nearly every day in January warms to over 60 °F (16 °C) in Phoenix. The city averages 1 day in January when the thermometer reaches into the 80s °F (over 27 °C). Temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C) are not expected here this month. At night, the thermometer dips to 40 °F (4 °C) or below on 5 days. January averages just one night a decade when the temperature drops to freezing.

So I am going to ignore that last frost date, because it's madness and it creates an artificially short spring season.

Looking forward, what about the fall season? The nurseries will tell you that first frost will be mid-November. Ridiculous! Here's what Accuweather says: Nearly every November day warms to over 60 °F (16 °C) in Phoenix. The city averages 10 days in November when the thermometer reaches into the 80s °F (over 27 °C). In rare years, November has a day when the temperature climbs above 90 °F (32 °C). The thermometer dips to 40 °F (4 °C) or below on an average of one night. November does not normally get cold enough for frost.

So what about December? Again, the nurseries will tell you that you can't garden here then, but here's what Accuweather says: Nearly every December day warms to over 60 °F (16 °C) in Phoenix. Temperatures in December above 80 °F (27 °C) happen about once a decade. The thermometer dips to 40 °F (4 °C) or below on 6 nights. December averages just two nights a decade when the temperature drops to freezing.

Personal experience. I've been growing plants outside here since 1986 and have experienced only 2 nights of hard frost. 2 nights in 31 years, so I am declaring one long gardening season in Phoenix from mid-September to mid-June.

This may be a mistake, but it won't be any worse than the mistake I made listening to the nursery guys worrying about frost when it's so rare.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. -Anaïs Nin
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Oct 8, 2017 7:08 PM CST
Planting my first peonies too deep.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

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