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Garden Failures...  RSS feed

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Typically, when I post photos of my garden, I make sure that the garden is weeded, and well maintained before posting photos. In other words I post pretty photos. I have plenty of failures as a gardener. I'm creating this thread as a place to post failure photos. Perhaps as a source of hope to others... I succeed a lot in my garden, but I also fail a lot. So here's to providing a more balanced view of how the garden grows...

Anyone else want to contribute some failure photos or descriptions?

I have been working on a red-podded pea project. The peas look glorious.


For the 2015 growing season, I finally had the red-pod trait firmly established, and was well on my way to selecting for sugar snap and snow peas. Then I allowed the whole patch of about 200 plants get overrun by weeds. I only harvested about a dozen seeds. If I had taken care of it I could have expected to harvest thousands of seeds and to share them widely. Sorry. No photo, lets just say that the area is still suffering from all the weed propagules I let multiply last year.

And this photo shows a set of huge melons... What is not shown is that the mice and/or deer had eaten into the melons, so that they were not marketable. The mice burrowed inside one of them, and ate it from the inside out.


Perhaps there are some vegetables in amongst all those weeds...
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Weedy garden
 
chip sanft
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Joseph Lofthouse posting failures makes me think of that Michael Jordan quote: "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
 
Tyler Ludens
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The biggest failures have been tree plantings - a fruit tree orchard which seemed to do ok during a moist period, then got attacked by sheep and later died in a big drought. We got a handful of fruit. Another failure was a small orchard of almonds, a small grove of olives, and a planting of small fruits on a hugelkultur. Those were all the most expensive failures because of buying all those trees and shrubs. It took me a long time to realize I can't just plant things like a lot of people seem to do, but need to make special provision for storing water in the soil. Plus of course deer and sheep protection. I don't have any photos of the dead trees that I can think of.
 
Galadriel Freden
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Oh where to start...

Well, I managed to kill half my order of chicks this year (I still don't know how it happened). I can't seem to grow carrots and most salad greens in the ground--I sow them/plant them out and they disappear overnight. Last year I had the most amazing pumpkin vines that grew yards and yards long and made tons of little pumpkins--each of which went moldy and fell off, one by one. I got one pumpkin out of six plants, and it never even matured.

Here's last year's fig harvest. I told my husband that it was probably birds, but I secretly think it was actually rats (we washed them off and ate them anyway).

 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Last's years 'garden' became sheep forage.....I let too many grasses go to seed the year before.
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Karen Donnachaidh
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The squash bugs have been horrible so far this year. In this picture, there are two yellow squash plants and a nasturtium I just added yesterday. Yes, that tiny green and brown thing was a squash. I tried dusting them with Azomite but it didn't work. I hand pick/smash the bugs daily. Three of my nine hills look like this and a few others only look a little better.
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Yellow squash hill
 
K Putnam
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Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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After two years of chicken-related gardening disasters (digging up anything new, helping themselves to the strawberries, eating all the squash, generally pooping everywhere that wasn't grass), I decided that they didn't need the WHOLE property and could be fenced off into a LARGE PORTION of the property. But it's uneven, part woods, tons and tons of grass, so maintaining a solar setup for an electric fence wasn't going to work super well. So, I figured, hey, they have a ton of space behind the fence, plenty of places to bask and dig, and grace.... they should be happy.

And suddenly the dumbest creatures ever put on this planet became a collective and mind-melded all of their intellect into one SuperChicken, upon which they decided to do a chicken run and bombarded the fence all together, flattened it out for the Great Escape. Because, the only place they could be happy was THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE. This went on for days and I eventually lost the battle.

Adding to the fail, because the previous owner had only let these chickens free-range, when I tried to protect them from predators by keeping them in a coop and run, they would nearly kill each other. So, they were allowed to keep free-ranging and now I have the fence, no chickens, and one very fat hawk.

I will do things quite differently when I start over with chicks that I can "train" myself.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's a thread I started about a potentially serious failure: http://www.permies.com/t/56996/frugality/Minimal-diet-deficiencies#479946
 
wayne fajkus
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I lost several peach trees to deer scraping them, which girdled them.

I put so much manure on the surface of my garden that plants were yellowing. It was horse manure so it wasn't " hot". I suspect the roots weren't in any dirt, so it was lacking minerals.

With 3 months of solid rain im still waiting to get in garden to harvest potatos, unless they rotted.

I once planted a row of onions, then looked left and saw that my chickens were pulling them out as soon as I planted them
 
John Weiland
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@Tyler L: "The biggest failures have been tree plantings - a fruit tree orchard which seemed to do ok during a moist period, then got attacked by sheep and later died in a big drought."

Our biggest failures have been trees as well. This old glacial lake bottom has great topsoil, even greater clay layer below that, and shortly thereafter, a high water table. Easily 70% of our fruit tree plantings died from a combination of cold winter, wet feet, clay barrier, and the onslaught of Rodentia. One apricot tree will yield pretty good again this year, but it's doing so due to being on its last legs....it will give up the ghost soon like its companion next to him. A few apples and cherries are hanging in there by some alignment of the planets. We even managed (with the help of the free-ranging pigs) to kill our rhubarb! The success story, not without some work, has been hard, bush-type fruits.
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
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Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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Well, I haven't been here long enough to rack up a healthy list of failures yet, but I'm sure they're on their way.

One thing we did last year when we were cleaning up the over-grown front yard, was to pull out all of these 'weeds' that were growing everywhere. And then a couple of months ago I was perusing a thread here and saw a picture that was labeled as 'Breadseed Poppies' and something else. Well, there were my weeds! So this year I let them stay and bloom, and have now discovered one of my new favorite flowers! I'm so glad we didn't decimate the population.

This year, everything seems to be growing well so far, despite being planted late. But something keeps eating my basil, and the one little pepper plant, in my herb spiral. I've mulched, removed mulched, sprinkled gritty stuff around them, and looked and looked for bugs on them, but every morning they look more and more traumatized. I've replanted larger transplants, but they are just a bigger feast for the mysterious marauders. So, it looks like basil isn't on the menu of 'homegrown in the garden' foods. Maybe I'll pot some up, and put a screen over them. Even the new transplants that haven't been transplanted yet are slowly disappearing. Visions of homegrown pesto are no longer dancing in my head . . . I am not experienced enough to know what is doing it, or what to do about it. But, I'll keep trying. 'Cause I'm just that stubborn.

And that's my sad story of the day. Stay tuned for further instalments!

Cheers
Tracy

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Sad basil in the herb spiral
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Sad basil transplants
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Magnificent Breadseed Poppies after the rain.
 
John Weiland
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@Tracy W: "something keeps eating my basil, and the one little pepper plant, in my herb spiral. I've mulched, removed mulched, sprinkled gritty stuff around them, and looked and looked for bugs on them, but every morning they look more and more traumatized."

Have you gone out with a flashlight and looked at night before going to bed? We've caught cut-worms in the act on tomatoes in past years this way,.....would never have caught them in the daylight.

We have a similar mystery right now with some lettuce (romaine). Have one row that looks fine. A second row was created a few feet away from the first by transplanting over-planted seedlings from the first row. Both were growing fine, then it appeared that one of the chickens had gotten into the garden and had shred-pecked the new transplants, so the garden fence was reinforced. But in the days that followed, it still seemed like the shredding was continuing, so I draped bird netting over them last night and will see if they recover in the following days. Strange thing is that the first row is still fine,.....maybe a few chews here and there, but otherwise untouched. It may be time for the WildlifeCam.

PS, Re: Pesto. Does it really work to make cilantro pesto just for the sake of saving it in a frozen state?
 
Tracy Wandling
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Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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Ooooo, GardenCam! That would be cool. Catch the little buggers in the act. I will indeed go out tonight and see what's happening in the garden after dark. Thanks.
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
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As for pestos - lots of herbs work great made into a pesto and frozen in ice cube trays - basil, parsley, cilantro being great candidates, as they don't dry well and keep their flavor. I've also done a mix of 'soup herbs' as pesto frozen cubes, ready to toss into the pot. Lots of possibilities.
 
diana todd
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I do not have images but boy big failure this spring. I started all my own seeds and had gorgeous plants to set. I set them and then we had a hard freeze for several days and I lost every one of them. Now a smart gardener might have held some back for a just-in-case scenario....nope not me gung-ho planted every last one of my starts. This meant no peppers, no tomatoes,cabbage, broccoli, tomatillos, cauliflower oh I cannot remember it all. We are in NE Texas where it is difficult to find heirloom plants at an affordable price in the numbers I desired. I bought a few. My garden is a wimpy stranger compared to last years.


Thank goodness the seed potatoes, carrots, asparagus all produced for me.

So if anyone is locate near Sulphur Springs Texas and they want to sell a lot of tomatoes for my canning please let me know! Amish paste is preferred just because they do not take as long to cook down but will take anything!!!
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Some of our better 'failures' were years ago in the early seventies. Group living and planning back then, although as a couple my husband and I have probably made just as many mistakes since.
A memorable failure (stupid decision) back then was planting dozens of fruit trees all over the hillsides of our communal forty acres and then a few months later trading the only truck on the homestead for goats and a horse...and of course we had no fencing...not for the trees or to fence in the livestock. In this case the goats were a huge (eventual) success and the fruit trees were like they never happened

...no pics...no camera, no cell phone (no phone at all) back then for us.

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Very good idea! Everyone has his/her failures. Showing them we can learn from one-another.

This is the place where should be a mixture of flowers attracking butterflies and bees now ... That seed did not work at all


In this container I put the seeds of hot peppers, coeur-de-boeuf-tomatoes and palm cabbage (some weeks ago) ..... What did I do wrong? Maybe my self made soil mixture is not right?
 
Tracy Wandling
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Here's something I wrote, as I was pondering this topic on my thread:

‘failure’. I think that’s a horrible word. I think that you have only failed if you have stopped trying. If you are still working toward your goal, and you haven’t given up on it, you have not failed. Even if you change your mind, and decide to head in a different direction, if you are still moving forward - even a tiny bit at a time - you have not failed. So, if your plants die the first year, and you walk away from your garden straight into the grocery store, and leave your little plot to the weeds forever, then yes, you have failed at gardening. But only because you stopped trying. And that’s just the plain truth according to me.

And here's a photo of the two sad sweet peas I got out of the TWO packages I planted.

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Two lonely sweet peas.
 
Judith Browning
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I never liked using the word failure and then found that my husband didn't have nearly the negativity tied to the word that I did when he used it to describe something we had not achieved in the past

One of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite jazz musicians...

"If you don't make mistakes, you aren't really trying."
~ Coleman Hawking

 
Michael Heath
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Now we're talking! I have lots of these. My first batch of chickens were free range and fell victim to raccoons, owls, hawks and one brazen coyote that ran across the yard and picked up a nice chicken dinner with me yelling and shouting at him from the kitchen window. My next birds were different, I kept them penned in a chicken wire enclosure. I even had pain in the rear double latch hooks with keepers and a spring closed door to prevent any smart critters from opening the door and just waltzing right in. Just this last week, somthing clawed(?!?) a hole right through the chicken wire and decimated the flock. All gone. I can't grow squash. The squash bugs for miles around know when I've stuck that little plant in the ground. I come out days later to a poor wilted looking thing on it's way to that great squash patch in sky. Chickweed has discovered it just loves my strawberry patch. (Oh!, is that mulch for us, how nice). I learned a hard lesson about spray drift when I sprayed for poison ivy too close to my cherry tree. I no longer have a cherry tree. But, I grow great poison ivy, mulberries and elderberries for the birds to plant where I don't want them, so every year, I have to spend time pushing back the wilderness. My wife has something that keeps digging up or overturning her potted flowers to root around in the potting soil. Weeds took over the garden last year and this spring it's been too wet to till, so I don't have any garden in and it looks like I won't until the fall. Oh well, gives me a chance to spend time on the other projects.
Michael
 
Shaz Jameson
pollinator
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Whilst this is not garden specific I thought it was glorious.

Article from the Guardian: Princeton Professor publishes his CV of Failures.


The flurry of interest led Haushofer to his crowning “meta-failure”.

“This darn CV of Failures has received way more attention that my entire body of academic work.”
 
Jerry Sledge
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Diana Todd

Maybe you could try the Greenville Farmers Market next spring(or maybe soon if you want to try for a fall harvest. Also Flohas Farms in Ladonia imports seeds from Japan. Can't find the name of the organic farm in Celeste(sp?), but I get a newsletter every week. Rodenta's Garden Center in Dallas. Eden's Organic Garden Center and CSA farm in Balch Springs. Moosage me if you would like for me to try to find links.

Jerry Sledge
Rockwall, TX

P. S. Blossom end rot on yellow squash, dead okra, stunted growth on all tomatos and bermuda grass. Last year was a total failure except for volunteer yellow cherry tomatos in the fall.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I planted many things in a garden with no deer and rabbit protection. The deer and rabbits destroyed some crops completely. They even ate the roots of my everbearing strawberries.

Other things like potatoes, tomatoes and garlic were untouched. Some spices were untouched. This was a bit of a planned failure, in that I spaced things to allow other plants to take over the space of those lost. I now have a very good idea of what the wild critters will eat and what they will leave alone. No point wasting fencing on something that nothing bothers.

My hugelkultur mounds were very dry on top. Several crops were planted there and only a few survived. This shows me that either these ones are better at reaching for water or they can survive with less water.

I planted potatoes in 3 different places. Those planted on my hot, sunny beds, where snakes and lizards abound, had no slug or wireworm damage. Every potato was a perfect oval, like those fancy store displays. The crop planted on a colder bed that was not home to reptiles, had a wire worm inside every potato. This failure was absolute, but not a bad thing, since it demonstrated the value of creating reptile habitats.
 
K Putnam
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I don't mind the word "failure" unless it is being used to describe a person. Sometimes the more epic the fail, the quicker the lesson is learned. It's those middling failures where you think you did everything right and it didn't quite work or not work that I find frustrating.

I know this is a garden-fail thread, but in the spirit of embracing fails and moving on, I offer this year's first batch of strawberry preserves. For the last 10 years, I have given my strawberry preserves an A+. There was one batch I overcooked that I would rate as an A-. Until this year.



Same recipe. Great fruit from a local farm. What happened? It took me a week to figure out. I have done this just long enough and just well enough that I looked at the proportions and decided I didn't need to reread the rest of the recipe because I knew what I was doing. And then I went on auto-pilot and cooked it down to the consistency of chutney. I made a lot of chutney last year. Chutney has vinegar in it, so it can be cooked way down without turning to candy. Strawberries and sugar cannot. I couldn't even get it out of the jars to reuse them. They had to be thrown away.

Strawberry Preserves 2.0 were pulled off the heat at exactly 220 degrees once I ate a bit of humble pie and went back to reading the recipe.

Losing food is always frustrating and sad, but once you've screwed it up THAT badly, the only thing to do is laugh.
 
Peter Ingot
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Peter Ingot wrote:[quote=wayne fajkus

I put so much manure on the surface of my garden that plants were yellowing. It was horse manure so it wasn't " hot". I suspect the roots weren't in any dirt, so it was lacking minerals.


Horse manure can be extremely hot. I've seen it spontaneously combust! and I've also seen what it does applied fresh around vegetables: It burns them out. IMO it's heat is its most valuable property, it's good for hot beds. The benefits to growing vegetables are exaggerated, even when it is really well rotted. It provides useful bulk to soil but it doesn't seem to work the same magic as ruminant manure. Another issue I've encountered is that many horse owners routinely use anti-wormers (even when there is no evidence that their horses have worms), and these do (whatever the manufacturers claim) kill earthworms, so beware when buying in horse manure. I've seen it first hand. donkey manure seems to me to be slightly better (more varied diet? longer gut?), but this may just be prejudice on my part

Great to see this thread, I've wanted a permaculture FailCon for a while.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Losing food is always frustrating and sad, but once you've screwed it up THAT badly, the only thing to do is laugh.

Thank you your picture was the first one to make me laugh. Although I almost laughed at the chickens making a united run at the electric fence.
Eventually I have always lost my chickens to predators so I stick to rehabilitating old hens that have about used up their life quotient. There always seems to be one that instead of retreating from the threat of the advancing chicken tractor wall plays possum and winds up with her feet stuck under the edge.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tracy Wandling wrote:And here's a photo of the two sad sweet peas I got out of the TWO packages I planted.


That's better than I've managed. Of all the packets of sweet peas that I have planted, I have yet to find even one seed that germinated.

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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K Putnam wrote:... And then I went on auto-pilot and cooked it down to the consistency of chutney. I made a lot of chutney last year. Chutney has vinegar in it, so it can be cooked way down without turning to candy. Strawberries and sugar cannot. I couldn't even get it out of the jars to reuse them. They had to be thrown away.

Strawberry Preserves 2.0 were pulled off the heat at exactly 220 degrees once I ate a bit of humble pie and went back to reading the recipe.

Losing food is always frustrating and sad, but once you've screwed it up THAT badly, the only thing to do is laugh.


So it wasn't even possible to cut this 'strawberry candy' into cubes, to serve as .... candies (maybe even covered with chocolate)?
 
Hans Quistorff
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I have had a lot of pea failures. What I learned by comparison with the successes: Peas tend to push themselves out of the soil trying to put there tap root down. Therefor unless you are watching very closely they dry out and die or something eats them. My best success was when I was given some sprouting peas and I did not eat all the sprouts. I made a hole with a pencil and put the tap root down it and firmed the soil around it. Most of the peas turned out to be sugar snap.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:That's better than I've managed. Of all the packets of sweet peas that I have planted, I have yet to find even one seed that germinated.


Last year I planted them as starts in pots - planted 2 packages, thinking that most wouldn't germinate. They ALL germinated. Ran out of places to plant them. This year I planted them in the ground . . . three times. Yeah, next year I'll be transplanting again . . .
 
Charli Wilson
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Jam... I'm useless at making jam, it either doesn't set- or it sets utterly solid. The unset stuff I call 'bottled fruit' instead and pretend I made it for my Partner to mix into his porridge. I haven't come up with an excuse for the solid stuff yet. Yet when trying to make bottled fruit I fail miserably- my bottled raspberries went all mouldy.

Garlic- third year running I have planted garlic and nothing has come up- the cloves are still there! But nothing wants to sprout.

And this year carrots- two packs of heirloom rainbow carrot seeds have not produced a single seedling.
 
David Livingston
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Charlie have you tried agar gar?
We may need another thread for this.

David
 
Charli Wilson
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David Livingston wrote:Charlie have you tried agar gar?
We may need another thread for this.

David


I haven't David, I haven't made any attempts to 'fix' my jam- when eaten in porridge it is quite handy that it is more watery.. so I just pretend that I meant it to be like that It is most likely because I don't pay enough attention to the cooking process, or temperatures.. this year I shall try harder!
 
nancy sutton
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I've only gotten to Putnam's hilariously tragic chicken story, but I have to say that this thread is filled with more LOVE than any other one on this site. Nothing better we can do for one another than share our mistakes.. i.e., our humanity (And hopefully post later with our 'fixes' ... maybe foil laid loosely on the ground, reflecting light up into the squash plants will confuse the bugs... years ago I read it worked for flea beetles.)

And if laughter doesn't force us to switch our attention to the half-full part of the glass... then we'll drown in the half-empty part... well, that didn't make sense, but you know what I mean! ox to all of us!

(BTW, I've been outsmarted by chickens more times than I can count
 
Tracy Wandling
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Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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"And if laughter doesn't force us to switch our attention to the half-full part of the glass . . .
then we'll drown in the half-empty part . . ."


Nancy Sutton; That is brilliant! Really brilliant! That is going to be my new phrase. It makes total sense to me - we are often drowning when there is no water in sight. Love it.

And you're right, sharing our mistakes is a very kind and loving act. It makes us vulnerable, but it frees us from feeling like we're alone in our blunderings and fumblings.

Blunder on, Permies!

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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Nancy,
Foil under the squash plants is worth a try. Thanks!
 
John Weiland
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Location: RRV of da Nort
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@Charli W: "And this year carrots- two packs of heirloom rainbow carrot seeds have not produced a single seedling."

Carrots will spank you every time....don't try to plant carrots unless you feel you are really in deep with the deity of your persuasion.

In the "planting seeds from store-bought food" department, it was with great bravado that I planted about 100 red peanuts (raw, organic).....3 times, ~30 seeds each time.
Result: 4 plants---that are looking at me as if to say "We're not in Kansas anymore are we Auntie Em?" They are pretty sure that they have nothing in their contract that tells them
they are required to grow north of the Mason-Dixon line. So they are putting down a few roots....but will "get back to me" on whether or not they will make a shot at growing.
 
K Putnam
pollinator
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Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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Carrots will spank you every time....don't try to plant carrots unless you feel you are really in deep with the deity of your persuasion.


A) This explains everything.

B) I laughed my ass off at the truth of that.
 
Sebastian Köln
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Last year we initially got four indian runner ducklings …
… until they decided to escape into the forest (the sun does not reach the ground there) of a neighbor. One day at midday only three came back and one was mysteriously claimed to be "found the evening before" (I had seen all four in the morning).
It had some bad wounds and was most likely killed by the neighbors dachshund.

So we had tree ducklings and they grew bigger …
… until they decided to explore the street. They visited other neighbors and one day one of them was found dead behind a bikes tire.

So we had two male ducks left and they survived the winter very well and gained the habit of not sleeping in their shed …
One day in spring only one of them responded to the usual morning greeting and the other one had its neck ripped up. Probably a marten.

About a month later I bought two additional ducks (male and female). The new male didn't want to respect the boundary and when I chased them back on one side of the property he ran straight across and jumped over the fence on the other side …
… and walked down the street … I noticed it too late and could not find him.


This was the first series of failures.
Our region usually has a lot of slugs which were the reason to get the ducks. But this year turned out to produce only very few slugs. Probably because the ducks ate most of them last year.
Now we had two ducks and not a lot of slugs. So they tried the plants …
… here this row of plants, there the salad, and so on. So far they have not killed a complete species, but did a great work of thinning some of them.
This is the (ongoing) second failure.
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cause one
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cause two
 
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