• Stephi Durand

My Gardening Fails of 2021

2021: the year I fully dove back into gardening.

It is safe to say I've already grown a lot as a gardener throughout the year, expanding my knowledge and learning through trial and failures. And there's still plenty more for me to learn!

I'm proud of the food preserving skills I've started learning. Teaching myself how to dry certain herbs — which I plan to add to next year — even investing in an herb and spice grinder to help me out with the job.

Food preserving is a skill I wouldn't have started if I didn't get back into gardening and next year, I hope to dip my toes into the world of herbalism too. All because of gardening.

Learning different aspects of gardening has taught me a lot, but along the way I've had a few failed attempts or mishaps. So I want to take this time today to share them with you, because mistakes are easily made and things can go wrong without any way to prevent it. Plus, I can look back at this in the future and see if I've managed to get around these fails, see if the work and effort pays off.

And hey, maybe you could give me some tips and tricks on how to turn these fails into successes!

Corriander Lemon

Last Christmas, I was gifted seeds, one being Corriander Lemon. I had never grown corriander before, let alone the lemon version, so I was excited to give it a try.

My first attempt didn't even sprout. I think it was due to the quality of the soil I was using at the time — it was terrible — which ended up refusing to soak up any water.

The 2nd attempt included a different pot and new soil. These sprouted, which got me excited and I thought I was going to harvest my own corriander for the first time! Instead, all of it quickly bolted. Leaving me with no plant to use.

I've since seen YouTube videos on how to grow corriander, and I may give it another attempt next year for the herb garden, but for now this herb has defeated me. But mark my words, one year I will get some grown and preserved for my kitchen!

Two corriander lemon seedlings surrounded by soil in a windowsil planter
Corriander Lemon Seedling

Leaky Windowsil Planters

When my basil plants became too crowded for their pots, I decided to get my DIY on and use some of the spare wood in the garden to make myself a planter for the basil.

In theory, this was fantastic; in reality, it became a lot of work.

The planter itself looked perfectly fine. It was a project I did myself, including using the saw cutter to make sure everything was right. I wanted to do it myself to feel less dependent on these kinds of projects, but to also build my confidence with it too.

I was really proud with the (imperfect) finished product, even if I did forget to glue it.

This planter leaked like crazy. The basil needed to be watered 2-3 times a day to keep it from wilting. Despite my love for basil and wanting to preserve it, it became such a hassle. The soil wasn't the best after awhile either, always taking its time soaking in before the plant actually got some water.

And that was before it all poured out onto the towel underneath it.

If I plan to use that planter again next year, I'm going to use a leftover soil bag to line it. But that planter will probably be permanently outdoors now.

A DIY wooden planter. Slightly uneven and leaks whenever water is added.
DIY Wooden Planter

Pole Placement for Runner Beans

So, there's a reason people use trellis or poles shaped like a teepee. I decided, for ease and space, to try sticking them either side of the bed and tie them with string for the beans to grow through.

The runner beans grew. A lot. And they got heavy. In the end two of the four poles had fallen due to the weight, and they weren't fun to pull from the soil either. (It was a 2 woman job!)

Next time I grow beans, I'll either make a trellis-like structure, or just do a better job with the poles.

A pink raised bed, filled with soil. Has four wooden poles to help eight runner bean plants grow and thirty leaks planted in front of them.
Raised Bed filled with Runner Beans and Leeks

Harvesting Poppy Seeds

This year, some birds left us a gift. No, not that kind of gift. The gift of flowers.

We were all delighted to see the poppies growing amongst the wildflowers, especially when more started to grow.

When I googled to see how easy it was to save the seeds, I knew I had to give it ago. This way I could plant some next year and also use some in baking!

This... did not go to plan.

This is where Stephi learnt that lids should not be used in the seed drying process.

Things mold. Really mold.

The poppy seeds did not dry, in fact, they ended up in the bin.

No poppy seed muffins for this blogger.

A beautiful pale pink poppy flower with a pale green centre.
A Volunteer Poppy Plant

Gardening will always come with its ups and downs. You could do everything perfect and a crop could still go somewhat wrong. It's one of the joys (maybe?) of gardening. Plus, reminding myself in a post like this, I can remind myself of where I went wrong, how I can approve, and see how much I've grown in the future.

Don't worry about the fails. It's a part of the gardening gig.

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