Garden Gardening Tips Organic Gardening

Gardening – The Few Things You Need to Know for Success

Success in gardening involves knowing only a few fundamental things.

When I first started gardening almost 40 years ago,  I was always trying to figure out why this, that, or the other was wrong.  Much of what I perceived as being wrong was just the way nature does things.

Over the years I came to realize that success in gardening involves knowing only a few fundamental things.

And yes, of course, there is always something else we can learn, but fortunately for us, knowing everything is not a requirement for success in the garden.

Fundamentals like proper soil preparation, keeping the soil covered, replenishing the organic materials/matter in the soil, good air circulation, and paying attention to what’s happening are basics that allow you to be successful without knowing a lot of details.

Once you understand the fundamentals, which are always few in number, you don’t have to be too concerned about anything else. No need to look for some exotic answer to solve what you perceive to be a problem.

More than likely if you’re working with nature, all will be well.  All you have to do is watch, tend, and continue to learn.

Through The Ages Others Have Come To The Same Conclusion

One of the most profound quotes I’ve come across that supports the concept was from Mortimer J. Adler, author of How to Read a Book.

Published in 1940 it was an immediate best seller. And remained a nationwide best seller for more than a year.

The book was revised in 1972 to accommodate various changes in technology that effected literacy. For example, radio and tv.

Understanding the Purpose of the Book Gives More Meaning to the Quote

What had not changed since 1940 in the author’s opinion – (which I find accurate if based on my own schooling experience) – was the the lack of instruction in reading skills beyond the elementary level.

Thus, for “all intents and purposes” a “student remained a 6th grade reader till well along in college.”

That is probably more emphatically true today than in 1972.

The purpose of the book was to change that condition for the reader.

The Adler Quote

In talking about mankind knowing more (having more details) about the world now than in the past years, Adler states,

“— knowledge is NOT as much a prerequisite to understanding as is commonly supposed.

We do not have to know everything about something in order to understand it; too many facts are often as much an obstacle to understanding as too few.”

Continuing to Learn Once We Understand The Fundamentals

Facts or Marketing?

One of the reasons that it’s important to understand fundamentals before we tackle all the details, is because of the difficulty (especially for beginners) in separating what’s actual fact from what’s marketing to sell a product.

Many products and even growing methods are deemed necessary only as a result of nature’s simple way being exchanged for something complicated.

As a result what is often stated as a fact is not necessarily “truth” and is only a “fact” as it applies to conventional agriculture.

Final Thoughts

I’ll give you some examples in the next post.


Suggested Reading

3 Books That Can Change Your Garden, Your Health, and The Way You Look at Life.

3 Keys to Successful Gardening – More Proof They Work

Organic Residues – The Needed Energy for Soil Fertility


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  • Theresa,
    Great blog; too many facts do dirty up the water. Also not enough information is very damaging as well. This is why I think most people have difficulty keeping things simple and have a hard time finding a balance.

    Getting excited to have spring warm up enough to do something with warm weather produce.
    PS I am cleared by the Dr. to do all things strenuous.

    Thanks again

  • Steve, so glad to hear that the Dr. has cleared you to get back to strenuous activities!
    Now the season can begin!
    Take care of yourself and keep me posted on how you’re doing.

  • Foundational:

    “I came to realize that success in gardening involves knowing only a few fundamental things.”

    More would garden if they only knew this truth. I had to learn it too. Sad that were so brain-washed that we can’t see the thing right in front of us for what it is.

  • Theresa, do you know if fall green beans will finish maturing after a frost? We had a pretty heavy frost last night and my beans were about 2-3 days from filling out, they are long but not filled out much. Yes, the plants did take a hit but was wondering if the beans would continue to fill out, as the foliage on the beans pretty much protected the beans themselves, which are mostly on the bottom of the plants. I’m in Missouri, zone 5, and beans were planted around Aug. 10. We did have a small picking about a week ago, but the Strike variety was a little later and are just LOADED with beans.

  • Hey Carol,
    It’s a toss up about your beans. So many variables involved. But I know one thing for sure, I’d leave them to see if they’d finish. What a treat that would be! And they just might.

    I’ve had beans hit by frost and as with yours the foliage seemed to protect the beans. They did fine. Other times, they got hit enough not to finish.

    If yours still seems to be doing ok and you expect another frost, you might want to give them protection with row cover fabric or even a sheet. Never a guarantee, but worth the effort if they make it.

    Good luck with them. Let me know what happens.

  • Thanks greatly, Theresa. Your thoughts and ideas are exactly like mine – leave them be to see if they will mature! Well, we did pull up two rows of the Blue Lake variety and harvested what was on them, which was only one canner load because we had picked them a few times. But the Strike variety is what is loaded with lots of beans so I left them alone. We are predicted weather around 60 degrees high for the next 2 or three days and lows in the lower 40’s with no threat of frost, so I believe they will be ready in that time frame – hallelujah! We are at an advanced age (mid 70/s) so we really don’t want to spend much money on garden stuff as we may decide to quit. Quick story – our spring crops were destroyed by deer and rabbits so we decided to do this fall crop and we put up a 7′ high wire fence around about 1/2 of the garden area to keep deer out and lower part was chicken wire to keep out rabbits. – And it worked great! My husband always has fencing stuff around so we didn’t have to spend any money – just used what was available. Isn’t the prettiest thing in the world but really works great. We see the deer tracks on the rest of the garden (where corn & tomatoes, etc were) but none inside this barrier. The trick to this I have read is not to give the deer too much room inside the fence, or they will jump in and then run and jump out, but a small area they cannot do this easily.

  • UPDATE – well after this hard frost/freeze, as I stated the foliage was pretty hard hit, BUT we had about 4 days of warm sunshine and temps around upper 60’s and low 70’s and the beans did mature some. (I believe the heavy foliage actually acted like an umbrella and protected the beans underneath) We went ahead and pulled up the plants (as it got cool again with rain forecast) and harvested a good number of beans, but if we had had about another 3 days of warmth I would have had about 3 times more! Good learning lesson – yes, plant a little earlier and don’t get in a hurry to give up on them if there is a frost. I now have about 45 jars of beans to last probably two years!

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