{Reader Question} Help! Garden Anxiety!

Sophie wrote to me a few days after I posted this photo on my Facebook page.

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She wanted to know if my garden had always looked this healthy.

Hello! Quick question! Do you feel like your garden always looked this nice and healthy? Or did it take you time? Time to improve the soil, learn from experience, time to invest? I don’t see my garden taking off just yet and I’m worried that it won’t. I really feel like I’ve done all that I can for a healthy garden. Help! Have you dealt with garden anxiety?! I hear comparison is the thief of joy.
Sophie

Hi Sophie,

It took three years of gardening before I got a single cabbage to form a head. I got like two zucchini from four plants my first year and I remember being so proud of those squash. I threw a baby shower for a friend and used the zucchini in the buffet. “Homegrown zucchini!” I beamed, and some woman I’d never met before scoffed and said, “Psaw. Zucchini is a weed!”

I nearly cried.

I have planted then subsequently cut down a pear tree, an apricot tree, and a peach tree. I’ve girdled a plum through sheer neglect and I’ve noticed my son’s new favorite game is “peel the skin off the cherry trees” so my days as a fruit tree killer might just be getting started.

I’m pretty sure I killed three red current bushes last week by transplanting them at a terrible time of year. We’ll see, they may yet revive. I dig up shrubs, plop them down, and dig them up again two years later. I had a thriving patch of asparagus, then decided it needed to move a foot to the left and basically killed the patch. It’s not easy to be a perennial in my garden.

I have planted potatoes from the store even though I know better, and garlic white rot in my garden makes growing one of my favorite crops nearly impossible. I plant packets and packet of carrot seed every year and – in a good year – harvest a few solid bunches of carrots. Cost-benefit? Negative. It’s that damned carrot maggot nearly every time.

I am a crappy composter, I haven’t pruned or trained my tomatoes at all this year and I’m pretty sure my summer squash has a magnesium deficiency. If there is ever a day when I feel even remotely caught up in the garden, I guarantee you I’ll get excited and start some stupid project like digging a duck pond.

The older lady next door to me who does not have a 30,000 person Facebook page and has never given a presentation on edible gardening in her life is a way better gardener than I am. Many of my readers are better gardeners than me. But I can’t let all that kill the joy I get from being out there doing my thing, and you shouldn’t either.

So, no, my garden did not always look like it does now, and even how it looks now might not be how you think it looks. Mostly I don’t post pictures of the total failures, even though I still have them. (I take heart knowing that this happens to everyone; periodically even professional seed growers have entire crop failures.)

Everything you see in the books and blogs is shined up for public consumption. Shit gets staged to make those garden porn photos happen, just as much as in food photography or high fashion. So don’t assume what you see is the whole truth. Good angle choices and cropping photos does a lot to hide the weeds. Half the time my yard looks like a crappy work zone that no one bothered to clean up. Because seriously, that’s what it is. Right now? Like a bomb went off.

Comparing my garden to others, yeah, I do that. Where would any of us be without inspiration? It’s good to enjoy the Art of the Possible. But don’t chase someone else’s garden as your goal. Sure, take ideas and incorporate them, and seek out the info you need. But do try to prune out those anxiety-forming comparisons and perfectionism.

There have always been parts of my garden that have flourished. My first year I did great with peas and swiss chard. By year three I was doing pretty good with cucumbers. I think it was the 5th year that I finally felt confident about broccoli. Then at year 8 cabbage maggots ate the roots right off two beds of broccoli. What are you gonna do? But year by year, it has gotten easier. Things have clicked – not always in the garden, but in me, and how I relate to what that space does for me, and for my family.

Let me get a little woowoo for a minute. I think that good gardeners love to nurture their gardens and good gardens nurture their gardener right back. It’s a funny thing about nurturing: it’s hard to do if you are anxious. It’s hard to put that away and just be there in your space, listening for what your plants really need. And I do think that when you can think like a plant, you’re half way there. The rest is details. When you can really imagine the straining effort of a seed leaf reaching towards the light and when you can feel the soil and imagine your fingers as delicate little root hairs trying to fight their way through the tilth, then I think you are in this headspace where you can nurture your garden for real, from the humble perspective of just one of the many components that will influence the health and vigor of your plants.

There is no start or end point, there is no point at which you’ve got it all sorted out. Gardening is a constant dance with nature, just trying to figure out where you should step in and where you should get the hell out of the way. You have to appreciate the beauty of the work in motion, because – like dancing – it loses joy if you freeze-frame it.

It’ll get there, your garden will take off, and there will be these phases when everything just meshes together. Enjoy those when they happen because as soon as they do, you’ll probably decide you want to change a bunch of stuff. That’s typically what I do. There is no perfect garden, there is only a space that nurtures you back. Take heart, keep calm and keep gardening. It will get there, I promise.

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Comments

  1. Beautiful post! Thanks for the honesty :-)
    I always feel that I’m the only one with a messy, work-in-progress yard or sad crop failures. I sometimes cringe when people ask me for photos.

  2. Mary Hall says:

    Wow, I so needed to read this post. I’m a new gardener–this is my fourth year of having a garden. I’ve made all the rookie mistakes: planted too much, too soon; didn’t read the backs of the seed packages; planted everything too close together; didn’t test my soil to see what it needed. However, for whatever reason, my garden has always exploded, which is both good and bad. This year, even though I deliberately planted items where I thought they should go, due to my habit of “distracted gardening” (ie. “Oh, the tomato plants won’t get THAT big” or “There’s room here…I don’t think the squash will take up that much space.”), I have volunteer tomatoes cropping up amongst my green beans (and two outside of the compost pile), and volunteer potatoes cropping up amongst my sunflowers, and volunteer ground cherries cropping up EVERYWHERE.

    But, you know what? I’m leaving them and I’ll pick whatever grows and will try not to stress that it’s not picture perfect, or compare it to my neighbors (retired and who have all the time in the world) who have the picture perfect gardens. I’m sharing my space with the darling little baby bunnies (who ate the tops off of Every. Single. Green bean. Seedling) and the birds who have decided a spot in my garden is the PERFECT place to take a dust bath, but I’m okay with that, because as much as I’d like perfect rows of tomatoes and okra, I’m much happier seeing the six foot tall sunflowers blooming in the middle of the garden and strange flowers (from seeds I think blew from my neighbors garden) dance around the edge of the squash plants.

    It’s all good, even though it’s not all perfect.

  3. I like to call myself an “accidental gardener”. And oh your ups and downs sound like mine. My butterfly garden looks great right now, but the chickens got into the tomatoes. I like that “dance with nature” and I am especially grateful that if I have a garden failure, I still get to eat.

  4. I’m glad it’s not just me then! The garden is a disaster this year but the long term fruit crops have come good so there’s always some things that cheer you up. An old fella once told me that the secret of good gardening is time, just time. Pondering this during many hours of weeding I guess he meant that you need to do things and plant things at the right time, things take time to establish, you need to have the time to spend working on the garden and spend that time wisely, and in time you learn and gain experience.

  5. I can so relate! Still have not gotten Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and many others to grow in my young garden. I’ve had past success with zucchini but after 2 years growing it in one spot I knew I had to go elsewhere and so far it’s not looking good at all. What an incredible Rhubarb & berry year we are having! For the first time in my life I sat down with a small bowl of strawberry raspberry jam and ate the whole yummy bowl! Thank you Lord!

  6. Totally relate. Diva plants, (for us blueberries, and a honeycrisp apple that never performed without tons of babying) just don’t stay to take up space. The other key for me I think it’s just planting a huge variety. If it’s a cool year the broccoli will be happy, if it’s hot, peppers. So yeah, I don’t take pictures of the mowed down green beans which are now covered with unattractive remay to keep the bunnies off, but there’s always something that looks good. To me at least, ha!

  7. This is one of your best posts yet.

  8. Juliet Grant says:

    Love this post. I learned a few years back that even though I have a green thumb for flower gardens it doesn’t necessarily transfer to growing food. Every summer is different here in northern New England (yes I know a lot of garden advice from NEL is not applicable to me but I enjoy the site nonetheless) and it’s a crapshoot as to what will grow best each year. My biggest successes have been perennial flowers, so I swap bouquets with friends who have been growing food successfully for years. I’ve also learned to be more forgiving of myself, and not take it all too seriously. Kind of like life, eh?

  9. This sounds exactly like the perfect recipe for living a fully-nurtured, engaged and authentic life. I replaced the word garden and gardening with Life and Living. Thank you for this fabulous post…

    “There is no start or end point, there is no point at which you’ve got it all sorted out. Life is a constant dance with nature, just trying to figure out where you should step in and where you should get the hell out of the way. You have to appreciate the beauty of the work in motion, because – like dancing – it loses joy if you freeze-frame it.
    It’ll get there, your life will take off, and there will be these phases when everything just meshes together. Enjoy those when they happen because as soon as they do, you’ll probably decide you want to change a bunch of stuff. That’s typically what I do. There is no perfect life, there is only a space that nurtures you back. Take heart, keep calm and keep living… It will get there, I promise.

  10. Good grief. Your best post to date. Hands down. Be careful or we’ll all have a crush on you (and not just on your garden). Thank you.

  11. Allison says:

    I am going to regurgitate what everyone else has said – I definitely needed this post. My garden has been an on-going disaster area of half-done projects, trampled perennials (thanks to my 2 pups), weirdly sick apple trees, pots and pots of plants that I just don’t know where to put yet and YARDS of hose that I got out one day and just can’t seem to put away.

    For a gardener, it is all about the journey, and only rarely about the destination. So important to remember that.

  12. Tommy Thombs says:

    Thank you for this exceptionally well written article that captures the true essence of gardening.

  13. Sarah B says:

    I seriously love your blog and reading the real posts like this!

  14. This post is killing me! I think the Shit is staged for garden porn and the lady next door without Facebook made me laugh out loud.
    My mom has been gardening the same plot of land since 1969. No crop rotation, no amendments. Just an 84 year olds love of growing and she grows the best tomatoes west of the Mississippi. No joke! I try to channel my mama when I garden, but I too am a mess.
    My garden looks so cute when I plant little starts, but then they grow and overshadow each other, piss each other off, and it’s survival of the fittest, or angriest.
    I gave up growing cabbage years ago as I was really growing those damn maggots which I did not plant. Cucumbers do not like my garden beds, but I keep planting each year hoping they’ll forget the previous year. Stay tuned.
    I love this BLOG!

  15. you are just the very best. i so needed to hear this today. it made me cry a little and feel less bad about my curling tomato leaves and better in general about my lovely small urban space.

    thank you…

  16. I think this is the time of year when we all feel like this: the rush of spring is mostly over, and the rush of the harvest is not yet upon us, so we have lots of time to reflect on the things that we didn’t have the chance to plant and obsess about what’s not growing well.

    I’ve lived in our house for almost 7 years, and I’m only just now happy with how the front garden looks. Not that it’s done, mind you. I’ll be moving a bunch of perennials as soon as they go dormant in the fall. But I’m finally satisfied with the structure, and it’s only a matter of time before the plants fill it in.

    Also, someday I will grow a zucchini. Although I may need to start keeping bees first. Two years trying, one shriveled fruit. Maybe this third time’s the charm? I’ve certainly seen a lot more butterflies around this year…

  17. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again many times. You’re The Bomb, Erica. Great post. One of these days, you’ll have to get us some garden porn pictures of your neighbor’s yard! That must be a sight to behold!

  18. This post is deeply encouraging. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  19. Dava Serbantes says:

    Thus post is so beyond timely, it is nit even funny! Thank you for such a refreshing answer to the question and her angst. We all have it and it is too easy to say, “I give up!” And just rely on the crap at the grocery store! You have reinstalled my desire to keep on truckin’, ‘er, gardenin’!

  20. It’s amazing what good photography skills does for garden pics. Sometimes the garden with the least potential can still look amazing at the right angle, with the right post-processing.

    As a newbie (first year of a “real” garden, container planting before this), I’ve been stricken by a good share of negatives (late freeze killed a bunch of seedlings, vine borers ate my zucchini to the ground), but the hardest part is seeing folks in the area harvest 2-foot-long squash while my squash plants are 2″ tall and barely resprouting just in time for 110* weather.

    It’s hard not to look to others for comparison, especially with nearly zero experience. However, every once in a while it’s good to pick a berry or a cucumber and enjoy the fruits of the labor, even if they’re not 2 feet long.

  21. Hi Erica. Love this post. Makes me realise I’m not the only one. My garden is a drug. I am currently in the stage of one pumpkin, two tomatoes and some weird looking carrots. But I have found that since gardening I am more aware. Aware of what is happening around me and my garden you get a sense of when something is off, and a sense of pride when something works. Even though the turkeys escaped last week and ate the hearts out of my cabbages, the geese get out when the pumpkins flowers are in full bloom, my pet sheep love to get out when my celery is at its peek (and don’t get me started on the cabbage moths and aphid this year) I am an addict. I also think if gardening was too easy we wouldn’t enjoy it so much, there would not be the pride with each success and we wouldn’t have learnt from our failures..

    Annie
    (Australia)

  22. Shannon H Like Happy says:

    I needed this. :) Thank you.

  23. Nancy Sutton says:

    Ditto the above… could be your most wonderful post yet! (a high bar :). Your honesty is inspiring. More woowoo, isn’t it interesting how sharing our ‘mistakes’, ‘failures’, etc. draws us all so much closer, and at a deeper level, than soliciting (well earned, though it may be)admiration for our ‘successes’ ?

    Loved the fruit tree ‘tragedies’! Now, how did you get early cherries away from the birds. I think I’ll try a ‘removable’ cage thingie with some ‘surplus’ 2″x4″ fencing panels next year.. right now, the tree looks like a fat scarecrow… which the crows consider a fun puzzle.

    I hope you conquer the carrot maggots. I’m going to try remay, and/or the 18″ fencing. But, then there are the pill bugs which gobble every seedling.. may try Sluggo Plus. However, right now, my third planting of cukes and zucc’s is unmolested… in ‘collars’ (mid sections of pl pop bottles) smeared on the outside with Vaseline. Or it could just be the time of year. Hmmmm… we’ll see…. this may be discouraging slugs, too.

    And rest assured that we know you are writing a book, in addition to everything else, and the slack has been cut…we are patient and grateful…. just stay healthy!

  24. Thank you!!!!! Gardening has been such a learning curve for me. Years & years. I even bought a TowerGarden thinking that would help. Constant work without much harvests. Planting seeds to shallow/deep, drip system fails, grasshoppers, amending soils in our raised beds since we’re on shale, composting, finding which seasons grow what plants, etc. Now we’re in a water restricted area of the Central Coast in CA. BUT, I’m not giving up!!!

  25. Diana Rose says:

    Thank you so much for putting into words what I’m feeling and doing in my own garden. Because, as much as I try, it does often look like a bomb went off in my garden or no wait, better yet… I get inspired to move half my garden to the other half and only later when it looks all torn up do I realize that it was all and only me who chose to do that. Lucky for me, I still love gardening and my plants must sense that and try to help me out by growing, in spite of my often misguided efforts.

  26. Truer words never written! I routinely respond to those who inquire about my “garden” – the definition is relative – with Erica’s acronym: FINE. [Look it up in her posts if you must] The wind scatters my artistically arrayed stacks of cardboard before I can heap grass clippings on for a lasagna garden bed. I forget to water the too-spendy perennials in their starter pots from the nursery; they respond with death. I plant lettuce, grow it to perfection, then get irritated when it bolts and tastes so bad in a salad. The spinach grows beautifully, gets picked, washed, bagged, and silently decays at the back of the refrigerator. And those are just my most minor flubs. No matter, today brings new chances to find a perfect cuke in hiding, or a perfect white rose for a bedside vase, or some other delight in my yard. That’s when “fine” means it really is.

    • I am guilty of all of these, particularly the letting veggies to in the fridge which IMO is the worst of all. I put so much love and time into that beautiful produce and then I WASTE it? What is WRONG with me??

      So, this year I am gardening at the food bank instead. So many good feels!

  27. Erica, I am now working on my non-food garden, trying to make up for two years of neglect. Da Mister is mostly in charge of the veggie side. However, on your recommendation, I got some Sluggo. Just got it so haven’t tried it yet, but the new Sluggo Plus is supposed to take care of various maggots. I’m hoping it will protect our carrots, etc. I know you mentioned that you were going to try something different. I just wondered if you had tried Sluggo Plus and if it did, indeed, help with the maggot problem.
    Donna

  28. What a stunningly wonderful, refreshing essay!
    THANX!

  29. Frances says:

    Such a timely post for me! Yesterday I dug up a bed of garlic…with white garlic rot!!!! I read your post from a few years ago on your garlic rot and it made me feel a little better. Is there any way to get rid of it in this bed? How long til I can plant garlic/onions again??? Anyways… I’m thankful that I can still go to the store & buy garlic instead of being limited to what I successfully grow.

  30. I just love you.
    I wish you all the best in all your efforts
    Eliona

  31. Oh man I love this. I was just getting that sinking feeling out in my garden today. I was super busy all last week and things are getting out of control. My go to easy radishes have maggot and I’m trying to get those panty hose things on my apples before I loose them all (yes, I know I’m late!). And the guy I hired to put in my new grape trellis just started today, a month and a half late. Meanwhile my grape plants I bought so enthusiasticly are crammed into pots. And his idea “careful around my plants” and mine are very different. Sigh. I have gotten good at clever angles for Instagram though. Ha!

  32. Addie Schille says:

    I love this post. I love the honesty that is helpful for others to remain hopeful. Thank you!

  33. Heather says:

    Yes. Just yes. I came to food gardening after many years as a successful flower gardener. I have never been so frustrated in my life as I was that first year trying to grow food. What do eggplants WANT? Gah! But now I try to ‘lose by less’ – this is my husband’s favorite philosophy – meaning that I accept stuff is going to fail and I lower my expectations accordingly. That way, anything I get is a bonus. It’s all kind of a big experiment and I know it’s not going to feed my family but there is satisfaction in doing it anyway. If I get a few jars of jam or some onions to store, awesome. If not, it’s not like I don’t know the way to the yuppie hippie market.

  34. Tiffany says:

    Perfect timing! I am over here stressing about the dive of my ‘hot crops’ and had convinced myself I suck until I read your post :)

  35. I’m in agreement with everyone else who has commented. This is your best post yet, and exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I’m happily surprised my tomatillo plants have done so well this year, but sad that I didn’t stake them when they were smaller (because I never dreamed they’d be so huge). I live just south of you, outside of Portland, and at our old house they would produce just a handful of fruit. Apparently they like our new house better! But, because they’re sprawled out on the ground, some mystery bug is out there right now happily munching on them…ugh! I am incredibly frustrated by my repeated failure with cabbage (sounds like a lot of us are), and surprised that cukes and winter squash (Waltham Butternut, I’m looking at you!) are just barely hanging on. Sometimes I think I should just scrap all the crops that I can’t grow well, and just stick to the things that grow with happiness and ease in my garden (collards, broccoli, turnips, cherry tomatoes, chard, beets, and green onions). But where’s the fun in that? I imagine a garden with no challenge would get boring after a season or two. However, I’ve determined winter gardening is a million times easier than summer gardening (at least at my house, anyway), so should I ever choose to go the easy route, I’m ditching warm weather crops all together!

  36. Once a year I do a “Garden of Good and Evil” blog and fess up to my failures. I still make big mistakes. I never got a single zucchini last year. Seriously? One thing I’ve learned is once something begins to fail, learn what you can through experimentation and then pull it out. There is probably next year.

  37. Terrific, honest post; I’m a 30 year organic gardening fool and continue to be amazed at my successes as well as my failures. There will be no kale/sprouts/cabbage unless I cover with spunbond. Chickens love them ,especially the b sprouts ( ooh, mom is growing us little cabbages on a stick!). Asparagus beetles discovered the patch just last year so I try to get that first generation picked off. I cannot seem to bear to rip out the zillions of cilantro seedlings ( dill, too) that erupt, selfseeders extraordinaire; so, my chef friends are benefitting this week after I make cilantro cubes for the freezer and dry some dill. Usually I can grow tons of eggplant, even in N NE; last year, not so much. We gardeners are an optimistic bunch by nature; there is always next year.

  38. kellestandley says:

    Oh Erica, how I love your humble, earthy commentary. This year we donated part ofour front garden to the “kid” who lives in a basement apartment down the hill from us and it has been a humbling experience . He wanted to plant a few tomatoes and some peppers. Wow, if that kiddo hasn’t knocked me off my block. He’s all about the permaculture thing and worm tea on everything. And I mean honestly, his tomatoes are twice the size of mine and look so healthy. So even though we are fully organic and have been at it for about 17 years blah, blah, blah, I have a lot to learn. We have a pretty well established rambling, shambling garden containing every possible plant, vine, tree and veggie, in every square inch of space and it all sorta works in a kinda hippie harmony. Surprisingly, because , like you I’m always digging something up or moving it, but your point about the garden nurturing you if you nurture it is so right on. RIGHT ON !
    **To the new gardener, keep at it and love those plants. They do know it and will feed you in more ways then one if you feed and nurture them.

    ~Bee well

  39. Marie Ogier says:

    I can sum this up in an old favorite saying, “Farming is the oldest form of gambling”.

    Sorry, I’m behind on your posts. Busy with life.

  40. I have gotten so many compliments on my gardening (veggies and perennials both) over the years and I never really know how to respond. It’s always something along the lines of your post, my emphasis is that you have to just TRY things and be willing to fail. I’ve killed more types of plants than most people I know have tried at all, and I learned something each time. I crack my friends up when we go to nurseries, the way I walk through the aisles, “killed that, killed one of those too. That ones really tough to kill, but I managed. Now THIS,I can’t kill – which means you don’t want it around because it’ll take over! Oh, killed that one so many times but I keep trying because I love it.”

  41. Sheila Boone says:

    Thank you for your incredible honesty and summing up how I feel most of time. Gardening is not supposed to be stressful! Isn’t it amazing how each year you begin with such hope and plans to do things better than the year before? Last summer here in Newfoundland, it was apparently a stellar season for crops. It was probably my worst year ever. Nothing seemed to do well except for garlic (I’ve never heard of garlic white rot.)

    Remember the old saying about being careful what you get for free, it can end up costing you a lot. We got some “free” compost last year with the most invasive weeds I’ve ever seen! Don’t even know what some of them are. Still battling that one. And don’t get me started on aphids…I can’t win the battle with them no matter what I do. Completely destroyed my peppers and eggplants last year and I’m foolish enough to try them again this year. Maybe I’ll learn something.

    Oh, and I’m glad to know I am not alone in harvesting lovely crops such as spinach and kale and leaving them to rot in the fridge. Evidently, I don’t like eating swiss chard as much as I like growing it.

    But, when I’m out there and the bees and birds are doing their thing (and there aren’t too many mosquitoes) and the sun is shining and some of the things I’ve planted are thriving, my garden is the only place I want to be.

  42. i love this!
    not to much more to add than people have already added, but it is just always so good to hear that others are often in the same boat as you.
    thank you for sharing.

  43. Somehow in my fight against the spider mites (argh!) and the wind breaking off plum branches, and the up-to-the-elbows in jam processing more stone fruit and berries than ever, I missed this post. It’s great. For several years I noticed that I had major anxiety in June because I couldn’t get to all the weeds and make nice bedding edges. I got over that eventually, but noticed it creeping up this year in the form of too much fruit taking over the kitchen counters. However, I refuse to go to that state of panic in regards to my favorite hobby. I’m not sure what will happen to all of it, but there’s always the freezer or the food bank.

    To any newbies still reading comments, the few successful tips I wished I’d learned earlier are to not skimp on the soil prep in a new bed/raised bed, and feed, feed, feed (even burying your kitchen scraps right in the bed if making compost is too much trouble – varmits ate through every composter we ever tried!). As for harvests going to waste, I have avoided that by “shopping” for dinner in the backyard. Many things don’t get eaten (same here with the liking to grow swiss chard more than I like to eat it), but my neglect allows those plants to go to seed which feeds the birds (or the chickens) and reseeds the plants for me for the next round. After 10 years of trying I have yet to grow decent garlic, but I’m still trying…the cucs, however, are stellar this year. Gardeners are optimists or just gluttons for good food and/or punishment.

  44. Iforonwy says:

    Thank you so much! I wrote a long e-mail this morning to my e-mail group of friends where I said that I was seriously suffering from Garden Envy! It is such a mess out there, partially due to fences that came down in a storm and have not been fixed – not our fault but don’t let me go there.

    However, I CAN grow rhubarb for Britain! I am just going to pop outside – between the showers – to see if there are any berries for tomorrow’s breakfast. I have to beat a young blackbird to them but I have him trained – I know I have no hope of doing that – I pop raisins on the bird table way away from where I am picking and hope that he eats his fill of those whilst I glean a small handful of strawberries and raspberries. The blackberries are nearly ready and the grapes begining to form. I still have 4 pounds of grapes left in the freezer from the ones I grew and harvested last year. Apples are forming well and the herbs and garlic are running riot.

    Again thank you so much for this post. I don’t feel so bad now.

    • A friend taught me to put those Dollar Store whirly gigs at the top of every row of berries and that really helps keep the birds out (keeping the voles from below is another matter…)

      • Iforonwy says:

        Thanks for that I will give them a try. We ususally link old CDs onto the fence and they seem to have the same effect. Saying that I picked 1 and a half pounds of blackcurrants yesterday and there are still lots waiting to ripen. And great newsflash! A new fence has been put up! Yeh!!!

  45. Federal Way Mom says:

    I’m making a contribution to the tip jar today. Just for this post alone.

    I like to believe that “learning from my mistakes” means that next year, I will figure everything out and won’t have the same issues (or new issues with different plants). Last year, I had a bumper crop of sugar pumpkins (about 30 of them). I just couldn’t make enough pumpkin bread or give enough of them away (my yoga buddies LOVED me). And this year, I can’t get a single sprout to get past their second set of leaves. But I did manage to get about 15 pounds of raspberries(I got less than a half pound last year) and my blueberries are harvesting bigger, faster and plumper than ever before. So I’m fine tuning my jam skills. Just hearing that others have similar issues gets me back to gardening zen. Thank you everyone – and especially Erica!

  46. HELP! Does anyone have any ideas on how to control a harloquin beetles problem? They are all over our kale and kholrabi, we have tried diatomaceous earth, squishing them and leaving them on the plants, essential oils, garlic and nothing seems to be slowing them down. We are about to rip out our kale but I really don’t want to do that. Any suggestions?

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