How Failure Taught Me What My Passion Is

       There’s a famous line I’m sure you’ve heard somewhere along in life:

       “What would you do if you knew that you couldn’t fail?”

       Well, I’ve failed miserably at gardening this past year.  In fact, ever since we’ve moved to the country and tried to have a bigger vegetable garden, it has been a big, fat failure. This is what my garden looked like this year.big garden

       Yep. It’s a jungle! You used to be able to see the rows where the pumpkins, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cucumbers were planted.  My son and husband helped me get good aged horse manure from a neighbor. We put in a drip line system that was even on an automatic timer so I didn’t have to worry about watering it. 

       But then, everything started dying. I pulled out the tomato and pepper cages, the dead plants and harvested my one single spaghetti squash. I told God and my husband I was done with gardening. It was too much work, too hot, and not worth the money, time, and effort. I was angry, frustrated and tired.

       But once I calmed down, I realized my gardening wasn’t a total failure. In our three raised beds, the herb garden did fairly well. I got a few onions, cucumbers, and quite a bit of lettuce and kale. One tomato plant has survived and I even harvested  some cherry tomatoes!

      Why was this garden failure so important?  Because of what it taught me.  First, my garden was saying loud and clear, “something needs to change,” and second it spoke to me about what is my true passion.

         It was after reading these words from the  book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, that  my eyes were opened. 

     “What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?

       What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success  essentially become irrelevant?”

         I might have been discouraged, but I really didn’t want to quit because before I knew it, I was researching why my tomatoes and peppers died.

Photo by Phillip Larking

          Then in the process of trying to figure out an easier way to keep the weeds out of my gravel driveway, I came across a YouTube channel that changed everything for me:  Garden   I started watching more and more videos and began to learn, be inspired, and have hope. I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could someday have a beautiful, abundant garden.  Even in my most discouraging moments, I still wanted to press on and get better at gardening even if it meant a lot of hard work and failures.  (I encourage you to watch her YouTube channel if you love gardening).   

        I know I still have a ton to learn about gardening and I plan to spend the winter doing just that so next year at this time I might actually harvest a pumpkin or two.

Photo by Jospeh Gonzalez

       But my garden failures have been valuable.  I’ve learned I love the colors and textures of flowers and vegetables. I love digging in the dirt, pulling weeds and watching the miracle of life come from the dark, wet dirt. Being in nature is a joy even when I am hot, sweaty, sniffling from allergies  and have dirt under my fingernails. The weirdest part is, I don’t know why. It’s just the way God made me. I learned I love it so much that I’ll keep doing it even when I fail again and again. To me, that’s  the best definition of the word “passion.” 

       If you’d like to learn from my failures this year, read on for some garden tips.  If not, I hope you will remember these words . . .

What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success  essentially become irrelevant?”

       Answering this question just might reveal what your true passion is too.

Photo by Leon Oblak


 My 2020 Garden Lessons:

  • I overwatered my tomato and pepper plants. I thought they were dying from the heat and not enough water, so I watered them more, which was actually drowning their roots.
  • My whole garden was in too shady a spot and is composed mostly of clay soil.  Because I live in hot Kansas, I thought they needed shade and lots of water, but too much water and not enough sun can kill them too.
  • Plants need soil help too. My pH was wrong. I didn’t add the right soil amendments to give them a healthy start.
  •  Flowers in pots and beds need food too.   I never fertilized my flower beds once this summer. I put a granular feeder in with my flowers  when I planted them and thought they would be good. Feeding them once a week with a liquid fertilizer is essential  to keep them healthy and blooming.
  • I didn’t  fight back insects who were  getting their daily meals  from my plants.   Learning about insecticides (organic or chemical) and different pests is a must. 
  • How to maintain my gardens by a zone maintenance plan. Click on this link to watch  – – – How We Keep On Top of Garden Maintenance (by Laura of Garden Answer).
  • Horse manure can actually be bad for your garden.   When horses eat hay that has been sprayed with chemicals, it can actually stay in their digestive tract and be harmful to plants causing them to produce poorly or die.  I had put my garden in an area where horses had once lived and then put additional aged manure in my garden.                              (Potted plants and carrots image by Markus Spiske)   

       These are just some of the lessons from my garden this year, but the most important one was learning what my passion is.  

  1. As long as you live, gardening will teach you something, even if it is only patience. We get our gardening genes from our grandpas, and it runs through all of us.
    I have far less problems with weeds now that I’m using raised beds. I rarely have to weed, even though they need more water. I spent a lot of time researching how to do it, and put in all new dirt. Nothing from the ground and lots of supplements. I add compost every year and more dirt, but they produce wonderfully.
    Garden Answer is a wonderful lady to learn from. She knows a lot about everything. I learned more from Gardeners World in a few short years, than the rest of my life put together. Have fun!

    1. I will have to check out Gardener’s World. Thanks, Cindy!

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