Your Garden Shouldn’t Be Perfect

Posted on Aug 29 2012 - 2:26am by Mike Lieberman

Do you strive for perfection in your garden?

Is it important for you for everything to be just so?

Are these questions that you ask yourself and beat yourself up about?

I don’t want an organic garden

People will often tell me that my garden isn’t “organic” because I am growing in plastic containers and the containers might be leaching BPA in the soil.

They will tell me that because of the water that I’m using and it’s not filtered in a certain manner that it’s not truly organic.

People will say that they don’t want to start unless they have the ideal conditions to grow their food in.

I usually wind up asking them, “Is it really that bad to grow in “non perfect” conditions as opposed to eating who knows what that we buy at the grocery store.”

Don’t be perfect

If you have been waiting for the perfect conditions and time to start, I challenge you to not be perfect.

I challenge you to do the best that you can with the conditions and knowledge that you are given to start and maintain your garden.

Your turn

In the comments below, tell me one thing about your garden that isn’t perfect and share this post with friends and family that are waiting for the perfect conditions.

24 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. mumma_ox August 29, 2012 at 4:43 am -

    My plants share their home with a lot of grass. Annoys me, but I don’t lose sleep over it 🙂

  2. Cherise August 29, 2012 at 9:40 am -

    My entire crop of Italian beans have gone unpicked because I planted too close (they were difficult to find and get to) and I was working a lot during the first couple weeks they were ready. I’ve decided to just let them go to seed and collect for next year. Oh well.

  3. Abi August 29, 2012 at 10:06 am -

    No one in my family will eat the zucchini that seemed to be taking over my back patio. Then it got powdery mildew. yuck.

  4. Bela Grimm August 29, 2012 at 10:09 am -

    Vining plants are getting into everything and 3 rows of Amish paste tomatoes are to close together. Now it’s like a freaking impenetrable jungle… the upside is they are the happiest plants ever.

  5. April Graves August 29, 2012 at 10:13 am -

    I sometimes buy seed packets from the international market. I don’t even know what they are. Right now, I have plants growing 10+ feet out of my garden because I had no idea what I was growing. I’m not much at planning or rotating crops. I just throw stuff in there, and sometimes it grows, sometimes it doesn’t. The squash vine borers kill everything anyway!

  6. LeeAnna Tatum August 29, 2012 at 11:04 am -

    I have weeds. Lots of weeds. I accidentally pulled up 4 tomatillo plants because I thought they were weeds and let weeds grow because I thought they were tomatillo plants. I sometimes buy seed packets and starters from Walmart. My garden has beetles and lots of ants. But I love harvesting my fresh veggies and knowing that I haven’t doused them with chemicals. I love my imperfect tomatoes and lumpy peppers and oddly shaped cucumbers. Oh, and I had some left-over Miracle-gro potting soil that I mixed in with my organic soil at the beginning of the season. I consider my “organic” garden a work in progress. 🙂

  7. Laura August 29, 2012 at 11:28 am -

    I have been so neglectful of everything in my garden this year. I don’t think I’ve watered in about 2 weeks or so. The tomatoes are incredibly small (but insanely sweet and delicious), and my strawberries are completely dead (good riddance, they never did produce any good fruit for the 3 years I had them anyway). My jerusalem artichoke look like they are about to keel over, and are burned and dry.

    The reason I’ve been so neglectful? I’m 37 weeks pregnant, this heat is killing me, and I sleep all. the. time.

    Here’s hoping that next year will be easier (with a kiddo strapped to my back)

  8. Linda Jean August 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm -

    Not enough sunshine for tomatoes, only 3 grew on the vine. The upside down mini tomato did well but did not produce as many tomatoes as I wanted. The mini bell peppers were very mini, but great tasting. I shared with wasps and ants all summer. The wasps were okay until they built a nest under the patio garden shelf. The ants just kept trying to invade. Not perfect but before this summer I never grew anything. Progress not perfection. Just keep on growing.

  9. Kathryn Blubaugh August 30, 2012 at 8:21 am -

    My garden is small pots with herbs in them on a tiny kitchen windowsill, right now. The chives and oregano are doing great, but the basil seems to be struggling. When I expand my garden, it will be pots on a tiny concrete patio that’s all I have for a backyard. I may have to rig something off the fence to get anything resembling a halfway decent supply of veggies.

  10. Mira Dessy September 2, 2012 at 6:16 am -

    I agree with you. I believe you do what you can with what you have. Just the fact that you are getting fresh, properly ripened, local 🙂 produce goes a long way. As long as you are not using treated wood which leaches dangerous chemicals into the soil I think any garden is a good garden.

    Mine’s certainly not perfect and I don’t get nearly as much as I would like to out of it, but every year it’s a little bit better than the last one and hey, I’m getting stuff. That’s huge, not just for me but also for my kids. I also share my gardening efforts with the neighborhood kids so they can see/experience/learn that this is possible. They love to come and taste all the different herbs and edibles.

  11. Lorna Walker September 2, 2012 at 6:28 am -

    I planted in boxes on my roof this year but had to leave it in the hands of some friends and a quickly installed irrigation system. The irrigation system failed and most everything died. I got some broad bean seeds and a couple of pound of potatoes though 🙂 Roll on next season!

  12. Lisa Hilton September 2, 2012 at 6:30 am -

    Yeah people will always criticize no matter what you do. Grrr…I love your blog and you are right, we can only do the best that we can do. And I think you do some really cool stuff!!

  13. Sandy Curtis September 2, 2012 at 6:34 am -

    We grow food in every spare container we can find, old rubber maid totes, old wheel barrels, even discarded metal cookie tins. Some of our best growing containers have been pretty unconventional and have given us great yield. You can plant in almost any container that can hold dirt.

  14. Kris September 2, 2012 at 7:06 am -

    I babied my strawberries and did everything I could come up with to keep them happy and healthy…. Only teeny tiny berries in 3 years, no real yield. As it turns out, they were planted way too close together, I didn’t plant them on little raised ridges. Don’t know if that was the reason behind my unproductive berries but c’est le vie…

    I have lousy light. Maybe 6 hours of afternoon light at most in half of my garden bed. I have an assigned plot in my co-op’s garden area. The other half get maybe 4 hours.

    I have the teeny ants, spiders and Mosquitos that bite me through my jeans! But I have awesome worms! I could sell worm poop my worms are so fat and happy!

  15. Kristen September 2, 2012 at 8:52 am -

    I created my raised-bed garden using leftover wood from a deck reconstruction on the building next door and have often thought about whether the wood had any chemicals on it that would leech into the soil. That being said, I use organic dirt, soap, coffee grounds, and egg shells as pest deterrents, and tried to organize the garden with a flower edge and veggie center so I’m hoping it’s still somewhat of an improvement over gmo and heavily pesticide-d grocery fare. Tomatoes and chard are goin’ crazy right now!

  16. Chef Ed September 2, 2012 at 11:39 am -

    I’m preparing to hang some old palates from our warehouse on the concrete wall in the back of our apartment. afterwards I’m going to either hang planters form that or cut some of the many buckets we have in half and grow veggies and herbs. The only thing is that there is only about an hour of direct sun light back there. So I gotta figure out what to plant.

    Chef Ed

  17. Linda Jean September 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm -

    Me, I am not perfect. My potting soil is cheap big box (so not perfect) recycled and updated with black kow. My containers are re-purposed food grade buckets. My water is faucet not collected rain water. My sunshine is in the low partial shade range. Thank you for never having the perfect solution or way to proceed. I was and am motivated by results from 1st seedling to actual fruit. My planted anyway raised from seed of a store tomato grew 3 tomatoes. I was amazed.

  18. Misty September 3, 2012 at 10:09 am -

    We made the mistake of planting our squash in the same bed as 2 tomato plants and they are all MASSIVE! Spilling over the sides and all. The squash was blocking the sun from the tomato plants until I finally broke off several leaves from the squash to open it up. But we have so many squash and tomatoes we have to give them away. There’s also lots of weeds growing around our garden bed that get waist high. We can’t keep up with them. And, because we didn’t get hardly any rain this summer, we used faucet water. But we’re happy.

  19. Julia Farmer September 4, 2012 at 1:47 am -

    I use chicken manure that has stood for several years or has been mixed into a compost heap before digging it into beds and have been told that because of this I am not growing organically (I don’t use any chemicals etc….) as the chickens may have been given antibodies or GM food. So my vegetable farm is not perfect but like you said – I am doing the best I can to be environmentally friendly and produce natural, healthy food.

  20. angela.child September 5, 2012 at 9:36 am -

    The “soil/dirt” in my yard was just dust when we moved in. I put cheap potting soil from Big Lots right on top of it to start it all 2 years ago. My compost pile is also right on top of my dust/dirt but has been going strong for 2 years now. FINALLY we have tomatoes big enough to use and my tomato plants are a JUNGLE! I also just save seeds from fruits we buy at the grocery. Finally after all this time we’ve got pumpkins growing, but right over the tomato jungle! I didn’t expect them to even grow since we’ve suffered from powdery mildew these last 2 growing seasons. Somehow, these pumpkins didn’t become affected and I’m hoping we’ll have some by Halloween!

  21. linda jean September 9, 2012 at 8:01 am -

    Affordable urban gardening is where I started. The buckets were free, the potting soil big box cheap, the fertilizer a little more expensive (fond of Black Kow). The money I save on planters I can put into quality seeds and quality fertilizer. I can consider upgrading to quality potting soil as I get more experience. If I had to be perfect I would never start.

  22. lucille January 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm -

    Great blog. You will never please everyone because it is all perception. Remember, perfect practice prevents poor performance , Ty Green. We do our best and keep practiceing with our gardens, so when we really need them we are ahead of the game.

  23. Stefani Bel May 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm -

    I am starting my vegetable garden this year with the conditions I have. I am using my small space and hoping for the best. If i wait for the ideal conditions I would never start

  24. Aria November 6, 2013 at 4:24 am -

    been planning to start a balcony garden and i kept thinking, money to buy flower pots..this is ideal..plastic containers are affordable….thanks

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