When you don't get the results you want

This was going to be “The year of the garden.” I had more time to work the garden. It would flourish, it would grow spectacular produce, lush tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cucumbers, and beans.

Except it didn’t:

  • The 7th year of drought ended but turned into torrential rain which created the right conditions for blight on the tomatoes and powdery mildew on the cucumbers and pumpkin plants.
  • I fought a losing battle with the rabbits who ate the beans, lettuce, and corn. Replanting didn’t help, they ate the new crops.
  • The ashes I had dumped in the garden to help change the clay soil were not fully burned and I didn’t know that tomatoes don’t like excess amounts of potash.
  • The weeds gained ground on me even when I was ahead of the game in the beginning of the year.

It was disappointing. My whole gardening effort felt like a total failure.

Why spend time doing something if the results aren’t the ones you want?

Then I started looking at the tiny successes:

  • We ate mouth-watering chili made from garden tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and the added spice of hot banana peppers and a jalapeno pepper.
  • Enjoyed basil-infused mozzarella & tomatoes appetizers.
  • Devoured tomatoes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • We tasted crunchy green peppers in our salads and sauteed them in stir fries.
  • We had several meals of fresh green beans.
  • There’s a box of onions drying for winter use.
  • I made several tasty cucumber in sour cream sauce salads.
  • We used fresh mint in mint julips and mojitos.
  • The freezer is filled with bags of hot banana peppers, Thai chili peppers, and jalapeno peppers.
  • We even grew two huge pumpkins, one which now sports a Green Bay Packer G on the front.
  • We’ll dry the pumpkin seeds for snacks
  • We learned what a lemon cucumber is (and decided that they may look unique but have no real value for eating!)
  • Beautiful flowers (irises, day lilies, cone flowers, tiger lilies, tulips, lilies of the valley, phlox, and violets) grew in every bed all around the house throughout the season.
  • The rock bed exploded with color throughout the year.

It wasn’t perfect. It didn’t meet my expectations. It wasn’t garden beautiful.

But it gave us food and beautiful flowers all season long.

This is the way things go sometimes.

  • You want perfection and you are disappointed when it doesn’t happen.
  • You can spend your time being angry and feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Or you can look at what went right.

Am I giving up?


  • We spent Sunday out in the yard, cleaning up the garden, removing debris, rebuilding the compost, and re-digging.
  • I’ll spend the winter months reading garden books, looking at disease resistant seeds, and planning for next year.

What about you?

Are you throwing in the towel when you don’t get what you want? Or are you looking for ways to do it better next time?


  1. Ed Han on October 12, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Excellent perspective, Julie. Just goes to show that recasting the matter is really important.

    • Julie Walraven on October 12, 2010 at 7:38 am

      Thank you, Ed! Hope all is well with you!

  2. Shahrzad Arasteh on October 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Hi Julie,

    As a fellow gardener, I was drawn to this post right away. Great reminder to look at what we’ve accomplished/what went right (in job search or anything else, really) and building on it. It also helps cultivate appreciation and gratitude.

    • Julie Walraven on October 12, 2010 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks, Shahrzad! I didn’t know you liked to garden too! I always blamed the gardening issues on my inability to be around during the summer months but this year I was here and I could literally watch it decline… watching blight destroy my lush looking tomatoes was sad… it hit all my varieties and all 11 or more plants…

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