The Dead Zone – Even Experts In Gardening Have Trouble Sometimes

By Nikki Tilley | August 9, 2021
Image by KingaPhoto
by Nikki Tilley
August 9, 2021

We all have garden failures, including plants we simply can’t grow. The dead zone: nothing grows here other than weeds in spite of everything you try. The unattainable plant: that one plant everyone else seems to grow with ease except you. The gardener with a black thumb: no supposed green thumb here, just a wannabe gardener that seems to kill more plants than can keep alive. Yep, I’ve been in all of these situations at some point during my many years of gardening. 

Garden Failures and Plants Hard to Grow

Even experts in gardening have trouble sometimes. In all honesty, you haven’t gardened successfully if you haven’t failed a time or two (or three). Every year is different. I’ll have years where my plants thrive beautifully and I reap a bountiful harvest. And then there’s years where it seems like nature is laughing at me and nothing flourishes as it should. The key to being successful in the garden, and with life in general, is not to give up. You know the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Take that plant that never thrives like everyone else’s, for example. With me it’s always been peonies. Try as I may they’ve never survived in my garden, until this year. That’s right! After years and years of trying, it finally paid off and I enjoyed my first ever peony bloom this spring — and it was beautiful. Hellebore is yet another one I fail at miserably. I’ll keep plugging away at it though. My mom, who has gardened much longer than I have and has one of the loveliest gardens around, can’t get hollyhock or zinnia to thrive. Yet, I can grow these plants with ease. She’s able to grow a myriad of fruit trees with no problem but occasionally struggles with veggies. I’m usually the opposite but have years where I cannot get a simple cucumber or squash plant to live, let alone bear fruit.

These things happen to everyone. There’s no shame in failure. Take it as a learning experience because each garden fail has something to tell you. Perhaps it’s a soil issue or maybe lighting. There could be disease present or even unseen insect pests. My little patch of “dead zone” of about 4×6 feet is trying to tell me something too. I just haven’t figured it out yet. Nothing grows well here other than a few weeds (which may be the key to breaking this code). The plants in the ornamental beds behind and to the side of it grow just fine. I’m thinking it’s perhaps a soil or drainage problem, though I literally put new soil in this spot and I haven’t noticed any water pooling. Still, all the plants remain stunted and eventually yellow. Nutrient issue? Maybe. That’s next on my list.

Failures in the garden are common. While it may make you question your ability for growing plants, don’t let it make you quit. Try, try again. Sooner or later, you’ll find success and it will be worth all your struggles in the end.

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