Growing From Your Gardening Mistakes

Do you consider yourself to have a black thumb? Do you make a lot of gardening mistakes?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

We all dream of growing plants successfully, and we all want our results to be the best of the best! Or at least keep our houseplants alive for more than a few days. Every gardener makes mistakes, no matter how experienced. So how do we stop making as many gardening mistakes and improve?

You can do it! And I’ll show you how to grow from your gardening mistakes in 4 easy steps!

Potted basil
This basil plant is the product of poor soil and watering habits. Next season I will definitely do better!

Step One: Prepare for Gardening Mistakes

Gardening is a learning process. So it’s essential to make peace with yourself and admit that they will happen and that it’s totally okay. You are not a bad gardener if you make mistakes. And nothing good ever happens from beating yourself up. And we are all human and make mistakes.

Having a Growth Mindset with Gardening

The secret to growing as a gardener is all mindset. Yes, it’s cheesy, but that’s the truth! Think of it, what do you think of yourself and your gardening mistakes?

Perhaps you start thinking to yourself, “Maybe I’m just not cut out for gardening”, or “Wow, I suck at gardening…” or something of the sort. And then you avoid gardening or give up entirely.

Don’t give up something you’re interested in because you mess up sometimes. Every expert has was a beginner once who has made A TON of mistakes. And everyone is still learning.

So instead of viewing gardening mistakes as a failure, try to view them as learning opportunities! You could even look forward to making a mistake because then you have something new to learn!

Developing a growth mindset is something that requires active effort. And it’s also something that takes quite an unmeasurable bit of time. So it’s perfectly normal for it to feel difficult for a while. But what’s important is that you keep on trying and don’t give up! Just like gardening, a little effort every day will yield astounding results!

Step 2: Have Fun and Document Everything

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments. — Janet Kilburn-Phillips

Growth Mindset and Gardening

Documenting Your Gardening Activities

Alright, here’s the fun part! Now before we get our gloves on and our trowels out, we need a way to record our efforts in order for this entire thing to work. Taking note of what you do will make it easier for step 3 of this guide.

And you can do this in many ways! You don’t even have to share it on social media like I share my gardening journey on @theblossominggardener on Instagram.

Some ways of documenting gardening activities are:

  • Get a notebook and write down or draw daily activities in there
  • Or write down notes in the notes app on your phone
  • Make audio recordings and talk about daily activities and plans
  • Take pictures and videos of gardening activities.
  • Create a social media account and share your story with others

There isn’t a limit on how you want to document your gardening journey, as long as you can record it quickly and look back on it should you need or want to. Please remember to document your gardening activities. It’s a crucial step, and you’ll thank me later.

Having Fun while Making Gardening Mistakes

Gardening is neat because there isn’t a single right or wrong way to do so. You could try growing herbs in your kitchen upside down or grow strawberries the size of your head, and you would still be a valid gardener!

Gardening pretty much relies on trial and error and experimenting. It makes it a lot more entertaining that way!

What’s important is that you don’t shy away from or avoid gardening on the fear that you will make a mistake. Mistakes are okay! And they’re a big part of the trial and error nature of gardening. Avoiding gardening won’t get anything done, so have fun experimenting and have fun!

Crowded bean seedlings
I dumped a quarter of a bag of raw kidney beans in this pot. Bigggg mistake…

Step 3: Review, Review, Review

Now we are going to review our notes, thanks to our marvelous documentation methods, and use them to improve. Looking back on your plans and actions is better than blindly trying to remember what you did 4 months ago. Reviewing your work is also great for seeing how far you’ve come whenever you feel like you’re at a standstill.

Using your note in whatever form they are will help you learn from your gardening mistakes. And then, you make fewer and fewer gardening mistakes.

Think about the state of your current garden (or past garden if you’re off-season). Are some plants wilting and turning yellow? Are plants spindly like my beans turned out to be this year? Ask yourself, what could have turned out better, and what has gone right. Identify those mistakes, but make sure to write them down so you can visualize them and remember them.

After you look back, determine why the results didn’t turn out as best as you hoped. Write these down too. You can even search on the internet if you’re feeling stuck.

Understand that there are things that you can’t control. You can’t control the temperature, but you can control how much you water a plant. But it’s important to differentiate between what you can control or not.

Step 4: Improving from Garden Mistakes

After you’ve looked over what went wrong, it’s time to make some goals and an action plan. Having a set goal to work toward to helps air out most of the confusion, and an action plan will make your next steps extra clear.

Making SMART Goals

For writing down your goals, make sure they’re SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. With a SMART goal, you have a better sense of direction and are more organized. If you’re confused about making SMART goals, ask yourself these questions with your goal in mind.

  • What exactly do I want to accomplish?
  • How will I know when I have achieved my goal?
  • Is it in my power to fulfill this goal?
  • Can I realistically reach this goal? 
  • When do I want to finish this goal?

An example of a SMART gardening goal could be:

By the end of July, I want 10 of the plants in my garden to be from seed. 

It is specific, a measurable amount, reasonable, realistic, and time-bound. Notice how it included a number and a deadline. You should be able to answer all 5 of those previous questions within your SMART goal.

Start small, so you don’t overload yourself with 50 different goals at once!

Making an Action Plan

Now that we have a gardening goal, there needs to be a plan to achieve it!

To keep yourself organized, make a lot of mini-goals to break up a giant task. If you want to grow 10 different vegetables in a season, perhaps your mini-goal could be planting 5 different vegetables every month.

After you set your goals, ask yourself: How do I reach my goal? If your goal is to grow 10 different vegetables in a season, what do you need to get there? You would need to get gardening materials and tools, get your seeds, plant them in the right season and environment, water them accordingly, and harvest them.

Be as specific as you can. For example, to get your seeds, you need to know which ones are right for your growing zone, research them, and order them. How many packets of seeds are you going to buy? Is it going to be in a variety pack? Where are you going to get them?

Then, determine what actions are needed to get to your goals. Going back to the example, what would you need to do to water your plants accordingly? Perhaps you need to put a reminder on your phone every few days to water them.

After you make your action plan, time to place it on a schedule. Place a specific date on when you will do the actions to accomplish your goals.

Following Through

Alright, here’s the fun part! Now before we get our gloves on and our trowels out, we need a way to record our efforts for this entire thing to work. Taking note of what you do will make it easier for step 3 of this guide.

Try to do at least something to get closer to your goal. A little progress every day is better than no progress than all! And it builds up over time! Take time to do small reviews periodically and tweak your plan until you find what works best!

So What Now?

Okay, let me say, PHEW 1600+ words! That’s a lot of jam-packed information there. I understand that this information is a lot to take in, so try to take things one step at a time. Bookmark this article for later, so you won’t need to memorize all of this and melt your brain. Theres no rush to do 100 things at once. Here’s a little challenge to start you off, try to think of 3 gardening mistakes you’ve made that you want to improve on! If you’d like to follow my gardening journey, follow my Instagram!

If you want to learn more about easy plants to grow, or bizarre plants, check out this other article, and sign up for my monthly Plant of the Month Newsletter!

Happy Holidays, and Happy Gardening! Till we meet again.

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My name is Sarika, and I am the founder of “The Blossoming Gardener”! Let me tell you a little bit about myself…Read more

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