Fearing the Vegetable Garden


“Don’t place your mistakes on your head, their weight may crush you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as a platform to view your horizons.”  Unknown




I love the thought of putting my mistakes under my feet…maybe they would be a good fertilizer especially if the mistakes are in the garden.  And mistakes for a perfectionist (reformed perfectionist these days) can be crushing.  They cause fear and stifle creativity.

And I found fears were strongest when I was growing my first few veg gardens.  They fell into 3 categories:


  • Anxiety when crops failed….especially losing tomato crop after tomato crop to blight.
  • Worry about the weather….too much rain, not enough rain, constant unseasonable freezes or even snow.
  • Doubt that anything would actually grow….and grow so we could actually make a few meals out of the harvest.


DSCN3417Failure is hard when you are putting in time and attention with a vegetable garden….expecting a red
radish, or a tomato, maybe even a few beans
.  Many folks give up, and I can see why.  But for me, the challenge of making it a success kept me going.  And the mystery of that seed producing a fresh pepper or eggplant, was too enticing not to keep trying until I could figure it out.

I read many books and websites for advice.  Trying something new to give my veggies a push this way or that.  Covering them with row covers to keep out pests and cold, or switching to an organic fertilizer for better yields.  It really is like a science experiment….trial and error, and learning.  Always learning!  Of course you must have patience and tenacity too.


So after 7 years, I actually have a bit of confidence, and I don’t get too hung up on the failures….or maybe they pass easier than they used to.



We completed the first few garden projects, that were a must to get the veg garden going this year.  Far upper right is the bed we reclaimed.  It was successfully dug out, screening and landscape fabric placed at the bottom and then refilled.  Lettuces, arugula, endive, mustard and kale were just planted before the rain fell.  It had been more than a week without rain, and not much fell before the sun came out for many more days.  Unusual for April.

Then my wonderful garden helper assembled the 3 tiered fruit bed…see it in the center.  We emptied the tomato bed soil in it, as we had to empty the tomato bed anyway.  It is being lined with landscape fabric and screening and refilled.  We should finish that this week.




fruit bed collage (1)

You can see the process of how this new bed went together.  Strawberries and blueberries are in the first tier.  Blueberry and Nigella in the second tier and one raspberry in the top tier.




onion collage (1)

I decided to plant only onions, and no potatoes this year.  Potatoes grown in the bags require new soil, every year, for a small yield.  So instead, I decided to grow red and yellow onions.  And with starts (small seedlings) instead of onion sets (small bulbs).  I am hopeful the starts will grow quickly and produce a great yield much like the sets do.  Another experiment!





I started early veggies over the past 10 days.  Besides lettuces, radishes, spinach and peas, I also planted beets, carrots and parsnips.  And I used my Seeding Square.  I really do like how fast and easy it has made my planting.  

While I have an overall plan for each bed, I also carefully draw each bed in a notebook, noting what is planted and when, and when it germinates.  I also draw each tray of seeds I start indoors to keep track of which seeds are viable.




veg sprouts collage (1)

Seeds are growing along in the basement under the grow lights.





Plenty of hot and sweet peppers have been transplanted, and are getting bigger.  I will need more containers if I decide to grow all these seedlings.





Celery and tomatillos are looking great as they continue to grow.  These will be planted out in later May once all chance of frost is past.





These tomatoes were growing for 2 weeks, and were just finally moved to larger, deeper containers so they can develop more roots.





There are several herbs planted too.  Five different basil, 4 different Italian parsley, 4 kinds of dill, marjoram and winter and summer savory.  The only seeds that did not germinate were the tarragon.  I will look for new seed next year.




more flowers collage (1)

And I started many flowers from seed too.  Tagetes, Zinnia, Alyssum, Amaranthus, Tithonia, CleomeNicotianaAntirrhinum and Nasturtium.  I am also growing coleus cuttings and begonias.




current crops collage (1)

Right now, the veg garden doesn’t take much time to monitor.  The rhubarb is up, and needs to be fertilized and weeded.  And we are finally getting our first asparagus after 2 years.  They are skinny, and small, but we will definitely let them grow more and then harvest for a yummy treat.

In another month, there will be many more veggies out in the veg garden.  As the veg garden beds become full, I will be monitoring them one and two times a day.  It is a labor of love…and one that pays off with sweet dividends.



Are you growing a vegetable garden this year?  What is your favorite vegetable to grow?




In A Vase On Monday 




The Corydalis solida (shown at the top of the post), and many early flowers, are beginning to fade as spring native wildflowers show up with other spring perennials.  So I thought I had better show case a few of the early flowers, before they faded more.




orange pitcher vase

Daffodils, wine colored hellebores and deep bluish-purple hyacinths were placed in the pitcher to condition them.  But I liked the look so much I left them, and did not transfer them into another vase.  

I have many later blooming daffodils that I think will be lovely in another vase next week.  But we will see what the garden brings, and what catches my eye.


I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles 2016 and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



Next up on the blog:  

Monday, I’ll show you the spring flowers that were brave enough to bloom during this crazy April.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday. 

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2016.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

94 Replies to “Fearing the Vegetable Garden”

  1. It’s such an exciting time of year. So much possibility. I try not to worry too
    much about things. Every year has it’s failures–but there is always something that does extra well, so I suppose it all balances out.
    Happy Planting

    1. Indeed it does balance doesn’t it Susan, which is why I worry less and learn more now! Enjoy the garden season.

    1. I am so pleased you enjoyed the post Sara! We are getting rain which is great news for the garden!

  2. Hello Donna, great quote and so true. It is not good to dwell on mistakes, we can learn from them. Your garden looks wonderful. Wishing you good luck on all yoru grow there. Lovely vase and arrangements. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  3. I just love that quote! I’ve written on my white board so I can look at it every day. You’ve got a lot of veggies on the way. Looks fantastic. Growing veg is always trial and error for me. My favorite to grow are peppers. They are easy and have a long season. Plus there are so many varieties and colors, makes the kitchen garden very colorful!

    1. Lucky you…here peppers are iffy because of our short season, but I seem to manage a few. Glad you enjoyed the quote Karin!

  4. What a hive of activity! I too love the whole process of sowing and recording, pricking out and potting on – and observing the process too! I also like the fact that your temporary jug became the final vase – why change what is already pleasing to the eye? Thanks for sharing, as always

    1. Glad you thought it was perfect the way it was Cathy! Hope you have had a wonderful gardening weekend!

  5. suddenly you’re streaking ahead with your vegetables; not sure strawberries ans blueberries are a good combination though; blueberries need lots of water (not alkiline if possible) and strawberries don’t want to be wet. Good luck.

    1. Yes our spring is so strange and especially this year, but soon with a short growing season we will be in full swing. Not sure if I explained it well, but the 3 tiered bed allows for 3 separate beds. The bottom bed is mostly strawberries with a few small blueberry plants. Most of the blueberries are in the second tier. I may eventually move the 3 blueberries to the second tier, or another location, for the very reason you state. For now we will see how this raised bed accommodates them all and learn from there. The good thing about this 3 tiered bed is I can amend each bed as needed.

      Several years ago, I tried growing both the strawberries and blueberries just in my clay soil, and interestingly they both seemed to survive, grow and fruit together although they were both swallowed up by the Obedient plant….of course the blueberries I am growing with the strawberries are natives, but we shall see!

  6. I enjoyed learning of all the work you are doing to prepare your garden, and those flowers are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing with Today’s Flowers Donna, and have a great week.

  7. I always have a hard time throwing out ANY seedlings. It makes me feel a bit guilty. My absolutely favorite vegetable to grow is Carmen Peppers. They are a large, long, sweet red Italian pepper and I usually get 19+ peppers per plant. This year I wasn’t home at the crucial time to plant the seeds, so I will be trying to track them down at the local nurseries. Most don’t carry them.

    1. Those peppers sound wonderful Judy! And I agree, I can’t throw away seedlings so I give them away!

  8. I’m very impressed with all your seedlings. I’d like to grow more from seed next year. That’s a major goal of mine. (I grow a lot of flowers from seed by direct sowing – i.e., scattering seeds in place – but I’d like to be more systematic about certain plants where the seed-scattering-method seems less than successful.)

    As for a veggie garden, my problem is soil. I have that heavy, mud-to-concrete compacted clay. I’ve been quite successful at finding ornamental plants that can thrive in the clay, but most veggies (as I understand it) like a much looser, lighter soil.

    Amending is a possibility, and I even tried raised beds, but the soil got quite compacted *inside* the raised bed, which made me frustrated.

    I do grow some herbs – lavender has done well, basil self sowed for a couple of years (haven’t seen seedlings yet, but they may pop up later) and chives have been a smashing new success this year. I also added garlic chives, which I understand can self-sow enthusiastically. I’m pleased by that prospect.

    I’m considering using a lasagna-gardening type strategy to create a new bed this fall and then use that (hopefully) looser soil to plant some veggies.

    When I did grow vegetables, I had most success with cherry tomatoes (I know, they’re probably the easiest veggies ever to grow.)

    I also had good success with mustard greens (they still pop up here and there as volunteers) and okra did pretty well one year.

    I’ve also done pretty well with lettuce and sugar snap peas.

    1. Aaron – a friend and neighbour of mine uses the lasagna system. Our soil is exactly as you describe yours! Try it … his lettuces were wonderful last year while I was able to grow none at all. I have lasagna envy!

    2. How interesting the raised beds were compacted. I have hard clay so have to use raised beds. But I make sure they are a couple of feet in depth, and use sand at the bottom so they are more draining. I hope you do try the lasagna method!

  9. Love all the learning involved!! Such patience is needed but it’s definitely rewarded. The tiered fruit beds are beautiful. Lovely progress, Donna!!

  10. The tomato soup color of the jug, with the blue rim, is a perfect showcase for the flowers you chose. I was very lazy about seeds this year, so I just direct-sowed a bunch of flower seeds and have my fingers crossed. R is the food gardener and has vowed to stick to tomatoes this year. (we must be showing our age) We always get tomato starts at the farmers’ market and I usually pick up a few herb starts then. You will be eating well, with the satisfaction of growing it all, all the way from seed.

    1. Perfect veg garden is tomatoes and herbs….this is the first year I am actually sowing flowers a bit more so I have my fingers crossed too! Good luck Ricki!

  11. I love sowing seeds and looking each day to see which have germinated. I enjoy the veg growing more than the picking if I’m honest. But the greenhouse is now full, the cold frames are full and the pots (of the right size) are running out. Something’s got to give!

    1. I have a theory that if we have a container etc, we will fill it. I am usually digging around looking for more containers by the end of May…never enough. Enjoy all those plants Jessica!

  12. Your spring flowers look glorious in that bright pitcher, Donna! It was a good call to leave them there. I’ve given two of my 3 raised beds in the vegetable garden over to flowers for cutting. Water continues to be a problem here and most vegetables need more of it than I can provide, although I do have a collection of herbs in one planter.

    1. I can see the allure of more cutting beds and plan to build another one and am using some parts of the veg beds for flowers too. I can understand how hard it is to grow vegetables there.

  13. I’m feeling very sated as I’ve just eaten the last of the purple sprouting broccoli and the first stick of asparagus. I couldn’t possibly say which is my favourite vegetable but I do know I’m giving up growing carrots and parsnips this year to make room for more flowers, such is the pull of IavoM. Your pitcher of just picked flowers is gorgeous – definitely my kind of arrangement.

    1. How wonderful Sarah….if I didn’t build more cutting beds, I would give up veg beds to for flowers.

  14. I’m impatient, I fret, get anxious and overwhelmed and lose my cool when slugs have done their worst. However I doubt I’ll ever give up because there is something uplifting and wondrous about those little seeds.

  15. Beautiful early spring vase!
    I like your vegetable garden philosophy. I’m also downsizing all the things I used to grow poorly, and focusing on things which pay off for me. Lots of onions, I love seeing them growing and happily bulbing up! Beans don’t seem to like me and apparently cucumbers are never going to happen 🙂

    1. Oh that is too bad Frank….I hope we get some beans and cukes this year….cukes are hit or miss for us, but the few I get we pickle. Good luck with your veg garden.

  16. Your hellebores, daffs, and lovely hyacinths look great in the red pitcher, Donna. You seem to be doing a lot of work on the raised beds but will not be fighting all the pernicious weeds I am tackling every day, grasses, dandelions, thistles, clovers, etc. that I cut off with a knife or hoe. I’m clearing ground to try to have the place to sow each successive vegetable. Peas and favas are growing, this year I added some sweet peas, plus in pots some Freesias and Anemone coronaria thanks to inspiration from IaVoM. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and quite a few flower seeds were sown starting early last December, the tomatoes are 12-18″ tall now, mostly transferred to my aquaponics system or the front porch for hardening off. I planted a few so far under tunnels. But my favorite vegetables are the pole beans, I save heirlooms from year to year, and will begin planting them when things warm up a little more. Last year I tried growing them on my outside deer fences, then had to protect them from the deer, this time I’m going to tie netting to bamboo poles and lean them against the outside deer fences so the beans won’t be reachable by the deer at a low level. Happy vegetable growing!

    1. Wow that is amazing you sow tomatoes in December. I started my plants about 6 weeks ago and they were about 3 inches before transplanting them… now they are growing again. Raised beds have helped with weeds, but boy we still get them as seeds and spores blow around. Good luck.

  17. I love the flower arrangement in the vase!
    I also decided to plant onions and no potatoes this year. So I was mystified to find potatoes coming up amongst my onions! The mystery was solved when dear hubby confessed he had taken some old store bought potatoes that had sprouted, cut them up and planted them between my onions!
    I am not sure how this is going to turn out. Perhaps I will end up with onion flavored potatoes.

    1. Oh your hubby is too funny…I can understand his wanting to grow potatoes. I will miss our blue potatoes.

  18. A busy, busy time of year! Your attitude is refreshing, Donna! I like your idea of mistakes as fertilizer–wouldn’t that be great?! Even people that grow vegetables for a living–farmers, food-share providers, etc.–experience success and failure from season to season. Some years are better for crop A, while other years are better for crop B. You learn, you adjust, you adjust and learn some more. But you know that! Enjoy the developing adventures in this new growing season. 🙂

    1. Thanks Beth…it is amazing how each year is different for a crop, and weather can affect it’s harvest so much even with all our careful planning and precautions.

  19. Oh Kris, I’m sure we all share your feelings and have at some stage experienced the same fears, worries and being gardeners I think this will always be a part of it but hopefully in time we learn to be more relaxed about things we can’t change. Your veg growing looks very savvy to me :). These raised beds are beautiful as is your vase. Have a great week!

  20. So healthy seedlings Donna! I do grow onions this year too. I already planted onion bulbs in a raised bed and covered them from low temps. I see you have dill seedlings, how will you transplant very thin seedlings? You’ve got much patience!

    1. Thanks Nadezda….the dill is still growing , and has gotten a bit bigger. i will carefully plant the seedlings into bigger pots so they can grow a bit more before I plant them out in a few weeks.

  21. It sounds as if you are very busy right now… I am still unable to sow (outdoors) due to the recent cold spell, but am sure everything will catch up. Your vase is gorgeous!

    1. We just hit a cold spell here too with freezes at night. Hoping it ends after Wed nite. Everything is covered including my lilacs…..I lost several plants and lots of blooms due to the cold. The price we pay for a warm March!

  22. Donna, your vase is so appealing. The colors are rich and exquisite together and the way you placed them together fells very natural.

    1. Thanks Susie…it did look natural to me too when i placed them in the vase which is one reason I wanted to leave them that way.

  23. HOLY vegetable batman! You know, I have to get out there and plant my lettuces, kales, chards and it’s so nice you planted before the rain … but right now it is snowing here! so maybe it’s better for me to wait just a couple more days. I, against all strong voices of advice in my head, planted my beans indoors and HOLY bean once again and now I’m thinking just when will it be warm enough to put out those beans? They will be 6 feet tall by then! All my seeds are doing very well this year … indoors and not in the greenhouse. The greenhouse isn’t very productive in this climate unheated. My peas are coming up, however, and I know THEY (unlike the rest of us), like it cold! Your new (and old) beds look great Donna! I’m sure you’ll have your fill of fresh veggies this year.

    1. Oh yuck, Kathy, snow…..we are due for 2 more nights of freezing temps so I am keeping everything covered. The veg and flower seeds I started outside don’t mind a bit of frost and cold, but I keep them covered as I know we will get a bit too COLD here some nights. And holy beans! Soon we will both be knee deep in fresh herbs and veggies!

  24. My vegetable beds are always much better when I feel happier about life, I think thats a combination of having relaxed time to properly tend the garden and then the benefits of being in my own my veg garden in turn make me feel a lot happier too. Beautiful vase too Donna.

  25. I admire your ambitious efforts in the veggie garden, Donna. We’ve been members of a CSA farm for years and I am happy to support their organic farm. We do plant garlic and this year I’m growing calypso beans because I love the look of them. 🙂 My gardens therefore are devoted mostly to flowers!

  26. I think that a few failures along the way with vegetable growing helps you in the long term to become a better grower. My favourite vegetables to grow from seed are members of the squash family and climbing French beans. That’s a most attractive red vase Donna and so are the spring flowers that it contains. It really packs a punch colour wise and you must be enjoying the scent too.

    1. I am still learning to get a better harvest from my squashes, so each failure has helped! Enjoy those veggies Anna!

  27. Hi Donna, I like the tiered raised bed, a clever idea to go up even higher. I’ll be buying the bulk of our veggies from the farmers market since I don’t have a lot of room. The small veggie plot I do have is full of garlic, one thing I plan to grow more of, and different varieties.

  28. Wow, it looks to me like you’ve got this gardening thing nailed down! Beautiful. And i watched the video of the gardening square. Great tool! Good luck with your veggies. After all our rain, i better check on our asparagus.

  29. I think vegetable gardening is more challenging than flower gardening. Flowers are more forgiving, on the whole. Looks like you are off to an excellent start this year. Good luck! Worrying is entirely unproductive (though I do lots of it anyway).

    1. It is so human to worry but we learn to worry less with experience. And yes flowers are so much more forgiving!

  30. Gardening is not something you can learn from a book. Like you I have learned by trial and error.
    It is snowing here, so I definitely agree about the weird month of April. I wish I had the space and the lights needed for growing seedlings indoors. Your new tiered raised bed looks terrific Donna! The flowers in a vase are particularly beautiful in this post.

  31. Great to see all your vegetables. I grow a lot, and have grown almost every kind of vegetables. Not sure which one is my favorite. I think I like growing the challenging ones — cabbage, cauliflower, artichokes. No success yet with artichokes. They grow, and grow. Then when weather becomes cold, I bring them inside. But then they die inside. Being a biennial plant, I’m yet to get the fruits though I get big robust plants. But I haven’t given up yet.

    1. Wow those are challenging veggies….I like those challenges too. Which is why I keep growing my veggies!

  32. Lovely vase Donna! Well done. I was attracted to your title though. Yes, I have fear of vegetable patch as well. Unlike you I haven’t quite put it behind me. But, like you, I am persistent and gradually learning how to manage it (the fear and the plot!) in a different way. It’s on the hottest, most sloping part of the garden (so not ideal).
    My favourite vegetable to grow is broad beans – they grow well here and are fairly drought resistant (and I do love to eat them). Peas and spinach are, however, my favourite vegetable to eat. I only succeed with them further down the garden where it is cooler, since I started to cultivate that last year. Thanks for sharing your failures and successes – they have boosted me up a little as I go out to face my own plot!

    1. Oh how wonderful Cathy to say I boosted you up! Good luck with your beans and peas and spinach. I bet your veggies will do well!

  33. I like growing vegetables, but the garden is so small. You need to add a greenhouse in your garden to make your garden passion expand. I too have grown seed and stored plants in the basement until spring, but a greenhouse on a property big enough would be a joy to have.

  34. Maybe one day here or in my next garden, Donna, a small greenhouse would be perfect. For now though the basement will have to do.

  35. Gardening has a learning curve, perhaps even more than other skills due to the local nature of gardening — what works for someone else (even a neighbor, let alone someone in a different state or nation) might not work in your own plot. Doing is the only real way to learn how to grow things (even if reading and conferring can help). I’m glad you’re persisting in your efforts, Donna. Good luck with this year’s harvest! -Beth

    1. Thanks Beth…you are correct about how we can only learn for ourselves, in our plot, in our time.

  36. Hi, I suppose my favourite vegetable to grow is parsnip mainly because I struggle with parsnips so every one I do get to full size is I feel, a real achievement.

    1. Interesting Steve….I will remember that when I get impatient with mine…I am growing them for the first time.

  37. The only veggies I grow are sweet potatoes and carrots and this year I’m skipping the carrots because I don’t have room. The rest of the food I grow is only for the pollinators. You may need to stake the tithonia. They get really huge and need some support.

    1. Oh yummy…sweet potatoes! My growing season is too short to grow them. I tried growing them a couple of times and I think I may have gotten one or 2 potatoes.

  38. Your post brought back fond memories of my gardening experiences in New England. Yes there were problems from time to time but the rewards made you soon forget them. Hope you have a bountiful crop this year.

  39. Fun to see your vegetable garden coming together and growing! I’m getting ready to help my parents arrange theirs, and I wish we could use asparagus, but I don’t think it would grow here.

    1. I had to put mine in a small contained bed….it will be fun to see how it comes back as this is the first time we are getting asparagus…they are thin, long stalks. Good luck with your parents veg bed. And thanks for your visit and comment!

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