Lessons learned from gardening mistakes

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By Cheryl Steenerson

I really love silver linings. Sometimes, however, it’s really tough to find them.
Take this summer for example. We’ve had a high number of insect pests, unseasonably hot weather and record low rainfall. Needless to say, it has been a challenging summer for gardeners and farmers.
Some look at those challenges and start thinking of ways to overcome them. Some just give up. If you fall into that first category, you will be more successful every year, because you learn new things. You adapt. That’s really the key to success. Everything changes and some folks realize that sooner than others.
The high number of insect pests lead us to try new things for control, like companion planting or a homemade sprays. The hot temperatures helped us realize that maybe a little shade in the garden is a good thing. The record low precipitation guided us to more mulching and drought-tolerant plants. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t work, but we learned.
Learning is the real silver lining in everything. Making mistakes is how we learn to be successful. The trick is to not get discouraged.
I lost three new fruit trees. I learned. I’m getting different varieties to replace them. Because of this I’ve had a little extra work in the beginning, but in the long run I’ll be much better off. We really have to keep in mind the long run.
In this age of instant everything, gardening stands as a strong reminder that good things take time and patience, a willingness to adapt and a strong back. When you realize all that, you start to look at things differently. You don’t have failures, you have learning experiences.
Now, even though we are still in a drought, it is time to start thinking of what to plant before summer’s end. I’ve still got to plant those fall crops. I’ve got to get those new fruit trees. I’ve got to get those bushes for the front of the house. Man. I’ve still got canning to do.
August is going into warp speed (school starts today) and September will be here before you know it. There is no time to waste. Take advantage of every moment and find new ways to save time, so you can get done what you need to get done before the snow falls.
I’m really excited about the new bushes that I’m planting in the front of the house, and that’s saying something.
I believe Mother Nature does a way better job than I in prettying up the landscape. I fuss more with food than flowers. However, the house has been here over 10 years. It’s time.
I’m planting bushes that need no pruning, take full sun and provide bright yellow flowers all summer and into fall. They’re called Potentilla. I’ll just have to find the time to water them regularly. Thankfully, we usually have more rain in August.
Intermittent rain is the culprit for cracks in your tomatoes, so pull them when they’re just pink and let them ripen on the kitchen counter.
They’ll taste great. Now, check the garden and the shed. See what you need before Labor Day. It’s called that for a reason you know.
Until then, just keep that silver lining in mind and as always, happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.