Encouragement (for Life as well as the Garden) Gardening Tips Soil Improvement and/or preparation

Probably the Biggest Deterrent to Your Success in the Garden

Before I can address the main topic — which is the big thing that discourages many folks from being successful in gardening, I have to make a point.  To do that I have to tell you about how my garden time —  two hours — is spent.

Nothing I do in the garden is really hard.  But I do have to tend it and to do that takes casting my shadow over it at least two hours a day.  Some days it’s less; sometimes I go for 3 hours.

I’m slow as molasses and have to work along consistently each day or I’d never get everything done.

I “rush” to get the routine stuff done first each day and then concentrate on the tasks that change.

Currently routine tasks are:

  • Weed our drive way for 10 minutes. (I’ve been working on this for a month and I’m 60% done.)
  • Check for potato beetles.
  • Dig some potatoes every other day. (I store potatoes in the ground and should have enough to get me through November or December.)
  • Check the squash and cuke plant residue for any squash bugs that may be left.
  • Check the tomatoes. Harvest what is turning pink.  Pull bad leaves.  Kill stink bugs if there are any. Tie up branches if need be.
  • Check asparagus ferns for asparagus beetles and larvae.
  • Check the snap beans and harvest at least every other day.
  • Check lima beans for progress.
  • Pick parsley for lunch.
  • Pick lettuce (every third day). Harvest greens like chard if they’re on the menu.
  • Pick raspberries.
  • Pick the handful of blueberries that will be on the bushes each day.  (Pretty much done — but I’ll get an extra blueberry tart or two that way.)
  • Check eggplant and cukes and peppers and harvest when necessary.
  • Pull any morning glory vines and weeds as I go through the garden.  (At least 5 minutes worth.)
  • Check cover crops and see how each is doing and if buckwheat needs to be cut.
  • Check the beans and peas that have just come up.

Here are the tasks on the list for the immediate future:

  • Now that I have the rabbit out of the garden, I’m starting to transplant chard and lettuce seedling that have germinated. Next good planting day is Saturday and I need to have the spots ready that I plan to plant.
  • I’ll be starting more lettuce in September.  Also other various greens, beets, radishes, and turnips.
  • Garden chart must be brought up to date and noted with everything planted so I’ll know how to rotate stuff next year.
  • I’m in the process of determining what beds will be used for winter crops; what beds will hold onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant next year. That will determine what covers crops go in those beds.
  • Need to finish up planting cover crops as soon as I can determine what will go in the bed after that.
  • I’ve noted where my garlic will go.  I’ve got buckwheat up about 6 inches in one of those beds, but it’ll be ready for garlic in plenty of time to plant in mid-October. Think I’ll turn that buckwheat into the top few inches now rather than waiting for it to bloom, cutting, and laying on top.  I may get a boost more of nutrients for the garlic with this strategy.
  • Still have to thrash out the rest of my rye seed heads that I saved so I can plant a few more beds in winter rye — especially those that will hold tomatoes next year. I take the seed out by hand and that’s sort of a pain, but I’ll get it done.
  • Working on a new area outside the garden in the back meadow to plant either rye or oats.  Will eventually be for vegetable crops.  Have to fit prep on that in a few minutes here and a few minutes there.
  • Need to at least visit the front borders and see what’s going on. It’s been some weeks since I even looked.

Deterrent to Success in Gardening

As I’m out in the garden I think often of the things people tell me about.

  • Like having to till the entire garden every spring.
  • Like planting 50 foot rows of peas or beans at one time.
  • Of spending time out in the hot sun harvesting for hours at a time.
  • Of all day freezing or canning sessions.
  • Of growing tons of stuff to give away.
  • Of having 1/4 of an acre of garden to keep.
  • Of the continual weeding of wire grass and other invasive weeds and never getting the better of them and having wire grass grow up in all their vegetables.
  • Of having to weed garden paths.
  • And on and on.

In all the years I’ve gardened (35) I’ve never done any of these things. I knew from the very start that I couldn’t do it.  That’s why I found easy ways to do things that gave great results and lots and lots of food.

I guess there are people that would thrive on conditions like I mentioned.  I’m not one of them, and I’ll wager that you’re not either. In my opinion the biggest deterrent to success in gardening (or at least one them) is taking on more than you can handle and not preparing your work area so that it’ll be easy to keep.

I’m Living Proof there is a Better Way

My one acre (plus a little) surrounded by flower borders, dotted with island beds, and 40 x 60 foot garden were prepared so that if I work a little each day consistently, I can keep them easily. Even with all my physical handicaps I was able to keep the entire area in years when Bill was too busy to help with anything other than cutting grass.  (Keep in mind even on my best days — 3 hours was and is my limit, although the average was and is 2 hours.)

I spend a few minutes each evening thinking about what needs to be accomplished the next day in the garden.  And I visualize myself doing it.

I plant consistently except in weather that is not conducive to planting.  I harvest every day — little by little.  I eat and/or freeze what I harvest each day. I never blanch peas or do things that don’t absolutely need to be done.  I put up gallons of roasted tomato sauce with very little effort.

We eat well.  It takes a little effort — as anything worth doing does.  But it’s doable and enjoyable.  It never looks perfect but it seldom looks “awful”.

Final Thought

If you’re stressed out because of all you have to do in the garden — think about how you can grow more in less space.  One of the secrets is to properly prepare the area. Then less can be more.


Suggested Reading:

Grow What You’ll Use – Temper with What you can Handle

Hassle Free Organic Gardening

3 Simple Things to Guarantee a Successful Garden

Secrets to Almost Effortless Maintenance of Borders and Gardens.

Weeding – Never Make It a Job

Help Your Flowers and Vegetables to Thrive

3 Things of Primary Importance When Starting a Garden

10 Reasons to Mulch

Mulching – A Way to Increase Your Yield

Cont’d Soil Prepartion – 1st key to Soil Improvement

Help Your Flowers and Vegetables to Thrive


Organic Gardening is easy, efficient, effective — and it’s a lot healthier.


All content including photos is copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com.  All Rights Reserved.


  • This is one of the most inspirational things I’ve ever read. “Slow and steady wins the race.” I often fall prey to the idea of “If I can’t devote several hours to working in the yard, I won’t go out there at all.” This is obviously a self-defeating idea! Thank you, Theresa, for pointing out in a very non-judgmental way that doing SOMETHING regularly (although perhaps not accomplishing as much as you wanted to on any given day) is still MUCH more productive than waiting for that “one perfect day” to devote to gardening, when the one perfect day may never come! Thank you for being such an inspiration!

  • I think most people do fall prey to that idea about spending hours and hours in the yard, Sue.
    Another pit fall — is not wanting to go out at all.
    When I don’t want to go out at all — I trick myself into it. I’ll say — “Theresa — you don’t have to do anything but go out and look — but you do have to go out.” Once I’m out there — I’m fine. 🙂

  • Theresa said: “It takes a little effort — as anything worth doing does.”

    That’s my philosophy of Life.

  • While clearing my Mom’s house, I came across an old copy of Ruth Stout’s “How to have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back”. She used sheet composting and mulch, cut the size of her garden down to what she could use or share and gardened into her nineties. I don’t sheet compost, do mulch everything well and have cut back on things that are more than my extended family can use. I spend about 15-30 minutes two to three days a week and an hour maybe on Sunday. The most time spent is when planting- a few three to four hour sessions. For the most part, I find the garden to be relaxing.

    I am down to around 512 square feet of vegetables. In addition there are some flowers in the front and around the edges that don’t need much care. Eventually I hope to build a few more beds for asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb, and replace the bushes with berries.

  • Sue T and I are obviously twins separated at birth!!!!
    Great, wonderful and timely post, Theresa

  • Hi Theresa,
    While pruning last weekend, I was just saying to myself…”How will I do all this when I’m 80?”. I need to visualize everything (I’m one of those, too!) and you have just given me a clear vision.
    My place is over 4 acres but with working a job that is more than full time (involves many travel hours a day to get back home every night) and taking my produce to the farmer’s market every Saturday morning, I have cut back on what I need to do. I quit mowing over 2 acres and it wasn’t really useable anyway…under 6″ of water all summer this year.
    My garden is 60×20 and very manageable. What is tough is managing the hundreds of blueberry and blackberry bushes, and muscadine grapes everywhere else!. It takes a long time to keep after these but am getting a plan there, too. It was let go for years and I am slowly reeling it in. I used to prune all the grapes but now have decided to keep the longest row next to the adjacent cotton fields full of vines to keep as much of their chemicals on their side. I don’t harvest these grapes, either. (Sometimes there is a really good reason to not prune!)
    Granted, work is never done here on Le Farm, but when you have your passion in your backyard, everyday is wonderful. I am sure you share the same sentiment.
    Looking forward to your next post…!
    Suzanne @ Le Farm

  • That is where my problem is. I didn’t spend enough time at my garden, and I missed time when bugs attacked my crops. 🙁

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