Well, I'm sure if you've tried Permaculture, you've made a mistake. Mine was pretty big, I'll share it and maybe someone else will share theirs so I don't feel alone.
Desk Jockeying while living in a tiny apartment doesn't help your green thumb... it just gives you enough money and time to buy way too many garden goodies. So when we finally moved to our 'stead, I sorted through all my seeds, pulled out everything we weren't going to grow immediately or soon, and made Seed Balls. Clay and compost and lots of seed made about four gallons of raw mix, and about a hundred seed balls.
I live in the Bay Area, where we get water only in the winter. The 'stead is an old sheep farm, backing onto an 'animal highway' of a perennial stream. Lots and lots of pasture and weeds. So after the last frost and just before a good rain we threw all the seed balls out. Did we get beautiful and varied plants? NO. We got VERMIN. Every single starved rat, mouse, opossum, skunk and every other nasty thing you'd hope to never meet came by to see what all the fuss was about. They ate everything, pooped on what they didn't eat, and bit at and scratched up what they couldn't eat or poop on. By the time it was done, the birds had landed and pooped Yellow Canada Thistle seed everywhere, and what they didn't eat, the rest of the vermin did... and then they got hungry and came into the house.
Countless hours spent vermin-proofing the place and 2 months of trapping and killing later (and a couple of funny stories), and I know now to START MY SEED FIRST, then plant them out as sturdy seedlings!
Still have the $##%(#(*$ canada thistle, though. Argh!
Haha! Just when you think you got it all figured out the varmints remind you not to forget about them!
Yah, I know we all do things like that.
My first year with a balcony garden I eagerly tried to grow some tomatoes. I was warned by a farmer friend to not over-water and took it to heart. Now, my tomatoes were doing very poorly. I couldn't figure why. I asked my farmer friend and he said often times people don't realize how much nutrients potted plants need. Well, that must be it! Went to the store, bought some toxic chemicals, and burned my plants. Okay, so that wasn't it. What could it be? Well, after a very disapointing season, I went to pull out the plant and replace it with winter seeds and low and behold! The dirt was dry as a bone! All I had to do was stick my finger in the dirt! Well, learned my lesson. Water more - fertilize less.
After that fiasco, I figured out how to grow some decent winter greens. At the end of the season I proudly hung some almost mature seed to dry. A few weeks later, while sitting on my balcony, I noticed some cylindrical shapes atop the seed pods. Caterpillars like green stuff, right?!! Well, no, apparently cabbage worms also like drying seed pods - alot. Well, there went half my seeds for next season! Lesson learned- keep an eye on drying seeds they are not immune to pests.
The unpredictable nature of the ecological network never ceases to amaze me.
Who would've thought that seed balls would lead to a weed infestation?
I've had some nice failings too. Knowing that blueberries needed acid material, I scrounged for what I could find - oak leaves - dug holes and stuffed them in as tightly as I could, then planted a dozen blueberries on top of the holes amidst the thick TN clay. By the next year, the poor plants had sunk a few inches below ground level in little blueberry pits... and did horribly, thanks to now-poor drainage.
And I know what you mean about caterpillars, Amit. A similar thing happened to some of my curing tobacco leaves. I hung the most beautiful leaves in my barn to cure... only to later find, a few months later, that they must've had some eggs in them. Lots of nice cigar wrappers were chewed into nothing better than Marlboro filler by some enterprising larva. (Hope they died of cancer.)
I planted all my tomatoes and watched proudly as my 'perennial' potatoes popped up in more and more random spots.
Then I went away for a month, at the height of the growing season.
I arrived back to find the solanums totalled by late blight. My abandoned jungle succumbed in the freakishly humid summer.
In the future, I won't let spuds grow everywhere and I won't walk out on the garden when it needs me the most
The first garden I was responsible for was a 4' x 8' raised bed in the back of our city lot. We should have sheet mulched to keep the bindweed at bay, but didn't. We should have added some topsoil to the bags and bags of manure and compost we used to fill the bed, but didn't. We should have used mulch on top of the bed to help retain moisture, but didn't. We should have thinned the carrots, but didn't. We ended up with lots of small, twisted carrots. We had to pull a bunch at a time since they were all intertwined. We had a couple of ears of starch, er, corn. We planted a rainbow corn that was beautiful, but wasn't so good for eating. Our six snap pea plant provided about six pods, total. The six purple string bean plants gave up about three strings, total. We had one acorn squash (that startled my wife the first time she saw it hiding under the massive leaves the plant produced). The tomatoes never ripened, but that was a pretty common story in Denver that year. We had some lettuce, but hardly enough to make a salad without completely killing the plants. We let many of the carrots and lettuce go to seed, and the next year we had carrot and lettuce sprouting all over the yard. We kept a pretty eclectic "lawn," so we were actually pretty pleased to see the biodiversity increase with the addition of the volunteer carrots and lettuce. We've since moved on from that property, but leaned a lot from that one year with the new raised bed.
Check out our blog at http://circlempc.blogspot.com where we discuss our experiences as we revitalize our family's ranch utilizing Permaculture principles and values.