• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Haasl
  • Pearl Sutton
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Carla Burke
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean

What Was Your Biggest Mistake & What Did You Learn From It?

 
pollinator
Posts: 200
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
42
monies forest garden trees composting toilet food preservation cooking bee writing solar greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I believe that creativity and experimentation are the basis for any permaculture activity - which automatically means that… mistakes, failures and disappointments are built into it.



As an entrepreneur and an educator for more than 35 years - one of my main mottos was “to be successful - you need to make as many mistakes, as fast as possible”.



With one caveat - you better learn from your mistakes, and not keep repeating them over and over.



And… if at all possible… learn from others’ mistakes, so you can focus on making your own personal mistakes.



So… this is what this thread is for…



Let’s teach each other from our mistakes, and hopefully learn something from someone else’s mistakes.



So…

What was your biggest mistake in your garden/food forest, and what did you learn from it?



Please share your stories below.

 
N. Neta
pollinator
Posts: 200
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
42
monies forest garden trees composting toilet food preservation cooking bee writing solar greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To start the thread, I’ll share mine:


We bought our 1.25 acre property in Tenerife 7 years ago.


Never heard of permaculture at the time, I wanted to have fruit trees up and running as fast as I possibly could.



The land was arid, mountainous, neglected, and bare…



I spent good money and planted the first 25 fruit trees - without any support plants, no soil amendments, no mulching, nada…



The trees suffered, almost didn’t grow, and the few that died - had their root balls the same size as they were when I planted them in the hard soil.



Not a nice picture.

 😢

It took me a couple of years to get introduced into permaculture and realize the horrors of my ways…


Since then I mulched every square meter of the property (mainly living mulch), planted hundreds of nitrogen fixers and other supporting plants, and almost completed the project of giving each fruit  tree (we have almost 250 of them now) its own guild of loving and cooperating plants on all levels/functions.



The difference is stark… and even the first generation of trees that survived my first mistake, are now producing in abundance…



So…

My lesson for anyone starting a food forest…

Start with enriching the soil, protect it from the sun, plant nitrogen fixing trees and plants to feed the soil, and ONLY then start adding your precious fruit trees…

Looking forward to learn from you...
 
master steward
Posts: 4919
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1518
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

N Neta said My lesson for anyone starting a food forest…

Start with enriching the soil, protect it from the sun, plant nitrogen fixing trees and plants to feed the soil, and ONLY then start adding your precious fruit trees…



I agree!

Our first mistake was planting a pear tree.  We dug a huge hole in limestone rocks and caliche soil.  Added good amendments like peat, etc.

It started off doing great the first year or two, then it got apple cedar rust because where I live we have lots of cedar trees.  I have never seen which tree had the disease as it could be on someone else's property.

We removed the poor tree and planted a plum tree.  It never did well either.  Dear hubby decided to get out of the fruit tree planting mood.
 
N. Neta
pollinator
Posts: 200
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
42
monies forest garden trees composting toilet food preservation cooking bee writing solar greening the desert homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Miller wrote:We removed the poor tree and planted a plum tree.  It never did well either.  Dear hubby decided to get out of the fruit tree planting mood.


Thank you for sharing, Anne.
And now? How is it going?
 
Posts: 19
Location: Michigan, Zone 6a, Clay soil, 0.5 acre suburban yard with downwards-sloped hill to a wetland border.
2
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A few years back I tried my hand at creating hugelkultur mounds. My buddy and I gathered a bunch of dead wood and cleared out some raggedy brush. We piled all this into a nice mound. I stuffed it full of dead leaves and such and then covered it in composted soil. Then *sob* I put plants in it. It looked great--for a month.

Unfortunately, time for things to settle is needed and I learned this the hard way. My precious dirt mostly just slid off my mounds and ended up along the bottom. My plants that were at the very edge (I did have the foresight to plant mostly on the perimeter) mostly survived but have struggled--likely because the local nitrogen is all tied up by the decomposing wood and leaves. Any plant not on the edge died. I ended up with skeletal mounds of sticks within a dirt wreath.

I gave this all a second try the next year. This time I did two things differently: a) I gave the mound a good year to settle--more like two years and I'm just now considering really planting anything in it; b) I tossed clay from other projects on top of the mound before adding good dirt. The clay seems to be helping keep the good dirt in place. While things settle holes open up and I either stuff some leaves or clay/dirt wherever this occurs. It hasn't looked as pretty as my initial mounds did to begin with but through two years it has held up vastly better.

Attached are pictures showing before, during, immediately after, and 3-years later for the first failed hugelkulture attempt. There's also a picture of the second attempt which is going significantly better.
Brush.jpg
Area before
Area before
Wood.jpg
After stacking wood and brush
After stacking wood and brush
Leaves.jpg
Leaves added
Leaves added
Dirt.jpg
Dirt added
Dirt added
Planted.jpg
Plants added
Plants added
After.JPG
3 sad years later
3 sad years later
Second-try.JPG
Second attempt
Second attempt
 
gardener
Posts: 2855
Location: southern Illinois.
765
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My initial homestead was in MN.  In making the decision to move there, my wife and I focused on the temperature. The temperature problems were minimal compared to issues of job availability, neighbors, culture, medical, deer flies, and mosquitoes.   I am sure there were a dozen other concerns as well.
 
N. Neta
pollinator
Posts: 200
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
42
monies forest garden trees composting toilet food preservation cooking bee writing solar greening the desert homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Greg Myers wrote:A few years back I tried my hand at creating hugelkultur mounds....
Attached are pictures showing before, during, immediately after, and 3-years later for the first failed hugelkulture attempt. There's also a picture of the second attempt which is going significantly better.


This is brilliant Greg...
It's all about trial and error, and we learn more from our errors than from our successes.
And by providing such a detailed description of your trial (and errors) and the attached photos... your lesson becomes a valuable resource for all of us.
Thank you so very much...
 
Posts: 73
Location: West Michigan Zone 5
16
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
All my biggest mistakes come down to impatience and jumping into things feet first, wanting everything right now, and not editing my expectations or having realistic understandings of my own limitations. I've literally probably killed thousands of plants, seeds , and seedlings by not paying proper attention to them and what they need (if you have to kill 10000 plants to be a master gardener, I think I'm at least halfway there ). I've wasted a ton of money by not understanding that certain things don't mesh with my personality ( goats are awesome, definitely not for me). I still go head over heels for seeds but now, before starting with something new (animals, plants, projects, tools) , I've learned to take a deep breath and "count the cost". This includes not just financial, but time, labor, and appropriateness for my particular land and personality. It can be very hard to edit, I think people into permaculture are more generalist than specialist by nature, but I've learned my results are much better if I can be more focused and methodical.

TLDR: Haste makes waste.
 
N. Neta
pollinator
Posts: 200
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
42
monies forest garden trees composting toilet food preservation cooking bee writing solar greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Stephanie Meyer wrote:All my biggest mistakes come down to impatience and jumping into things feet first, wanting everything right now, and not editing my expectations or having realistic understandings of my own limitations.


Totally recognizable, Stephanie.
I found out that nature is my best teacher and therapist when it comes to “curing” my impatience.
The more I relax into the rhythm of nature, the better results I get.
Thank you for sharing and make it an awesome day.
 
Willie Smits increased rainfall 25% in three years by planting trees. Tiny ad:
100th Issue of Permaculture Magazine - now FREE for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/45/pmag
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic