Is fear of failure keeping you from starting a garden?
Trust me, I know how you feel. I’ve been there too. The possibility, or rather probability, of failure can be stifling. Even sitting down to write this, I’m afraid to fail. I keep thinking “How will little ol’ me ever inspire you to look the fear of failure in the face and take a shot at growing your own food anyway?
But I take comfort in something writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie said, “Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” If I fail, I will learn from it and grow.
It’s true, all across the board. I’ve failed in school, business, sports and relationships. I’ve failed while cooking, gardening, teaching and communicating. It’s likely I’ve failed in one way or another, every day of my life.
Even though it sucked then, it’s clear now how much better off I am for having tried and failed.
For me, the desire to be better far outweighs the fear of failing. My most recent self-improvement goal is to become self-sufficient and grow my own food. I don’t want to be dependent on unsustainable modern agriculture practices and our dodgy food industry. So I’m getting my hands dirty, literally.
Last year was my first year growing vegetables. By the end of the growing season I had only been able to harvest (and eat) a bunch of basil and lettuce on a few occasions, a handful of tomatoes, one strange looking cucumber, and an unripe pepper. That’s it! The rest of my plants fell victim to dehydration and unrelenting squirrels.
There were plenty of times I wanted to give up. I felt so frustrated that after watering and weeding every day for 4 months, I wasn’t getting out what I was putting in. I felt like a total failure and was admittedly relieved when fall came and the daily grind with my plants ended.
Even so, after some reflection I realized that nurturing plants from little seedings to budding, blooming, and fruiting plants was inexpressibly fulfilling.
This year, I’ve got a plan. It’s probably not a fail-proof plan, but I’m hoping it’ll be a big improvement on last year’s garden. (Keep reading to the end to see my plan for 2013.)
Luckily, I’ve been working with the Maxfield’s team to create and distribute tips and tricks to growing your own food and becoming a better gardener. I’m sure to learn a lot this season and I hope you do to. (Check out our fun how-to videos.)
Just remember: the more you fail, the more you’ll learn and the better you’ll become. After all, isn’t the motivation of gardening to grow?
If fear still has you at a stand still, here are 5 vegetables to start with that are sure to succeed. Top 5 no-fail vegetables for your garden.
As promised, here is my endurable imperfect plan.
1) Amend the soil.
Last year I added a light layer of mulch at the base of my plants. This year I’m amending my soil before planting with organic fertilizer. This will help me in two ways. Healthier soil has 1) better water retention (so I wont have to water as frequently – this is especially good news because of Colorado’s expected drought conditions) and 2) higher nutrient content (so I’ll eat healthier because, like we say at Maxfield’s, “You are what your food eats.”)
2) Learn more about water and light requirements.
I need to do some research to make sure the vegetables I want to grow can thrive in the space I have to grow them.
3) Keep plants in same general area with easy access to watering hose.
Last year, half of my plants were growing in containers outside my back door and the other half were across the street at my community garden plot. The plot had a watering hose but to water the plants by my door, I had to carry a bucket back and forth across my apartment at least 10 times a day. To me, that was a hassel.
4) Only have one basil plant.
Basil grows like weeds during Colorado summers. Pruning buds from 4 plants was almost the death of me.
5) Plant a bigger variety of plants and start exploring companion planting.
Even though last years harvest was disappointing, I’m ready to take my hands-on-learning to the next level
6) Figure out how to keep squirrels away, naturally.
I really spoiled them last year… After asking around a bit, I’ve heard that spreading coyote urine (sounds strange, I know), or even dog hair that’s been swept up from the floor, around the perimeter of my plants is a good, natural method.
7) Start using worm castings
I’ve learned how to set up a worm bin and am looking forward to harvesting some beautiful black gold to feed my plants, my body and my soul.
Here’s to being wiser next time around.
In the comments below tell me about a time you failed and what you learn from it? Or tell me what you’re afraid to fail at right now and how might failure help you grow. By owning your fears and bringing them into the light, those fears start to look much less scary.
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Kristen Hess is the Co-Founder of CompoKeeper LLC, a Boulder-based business that makes composting a more rewarding experience through education and well-designed composting products. Kristen is delighted to be working with Maxfield’s helping to spread the good word about a movement towards empowered self-sufficiency. She loves people and nature and is passionate about promoting and celebrating the harmonious wellbeing of each