Four Tips For Preventing Gardening Burnout

by emily on August 8, 2011

This post is a part Simple Lives Thursday.

When you first endeavor to learn how to start a vegetable garden, excitement is the reigning emotion as you flip through your first book on gardening. Joy is the next one, sprouting up with the germination of your first seeds.

Gardening burnout is the last thing on your mind.

But it happens.

A friend of mine started her first garden early this summer with great enthusiasm. A couple weeks ago, she admitted that she has been lax on the watering and feels quite indifferent toward the garden right now.

I completely understand, as I feel the same way. Here in north Texas, we are not only suffering from a drought, but dealing with temperatures that have soared well past 100 (Fahrenheit) almost every day for the past two months. A lot of crops – notoriously tomatoes – completely shut down production in such weather. What is doing well – cucumbers and melons – require a ton of water.

Your situation may be different, but chances are, whether you’re a first-timer or veteran gardener, you may be experiencing – or have experienced – gardening burnout. You just don’t know why you bothered starting a garden in the first place, and going back to your old ways of depending on the grocery store to meet all your food needs is tempting.

Don’t give up! Following are four tips to prevent – or at least seriously reduce – the burnout that often happens to gardeners mid-season.

1. Automate as much as possible.

Use raised beds and/or tons of mulch and/or biointensive planting to prevent weeds. Set up drip irrigation, and install timers on your hose faucet. Create a plan and a schedule for planting, and keep up with it.

2. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

Keep it small the first couple years. Then, expand slowly. Experiment when you have had enough gardening success to be able to stand a few failures.

3. Keep expectations low.

This sounds contrary to what any good life coach or motivational speaker would tell you. However, unexpected stuff can happen that will result in less-than-prolific production for one or more of any of your crops. Hope for some, but don’t expect that everything will produce by the book every year.

4. Plant what grows well in your area.

My mother told me she could never get a bell pepper plant to do well in Minnesota. On the other hand, they are one of the easiest things to grow down South. Vice versa for zucchini. Here, squash bugs are the bane of the gardener’s existence. Minnesota gardeners don’t even know what a squash bug is! So do your research and stick to the tried-and-true crops for your particular climate and region.

Gardening burnout can happen. Put those tips into action to keep it out of your life. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of my dirt-cheap e-book on gardening, Weird Gardening, which will help you create a productive food garden that practically runs on auto-pilot.

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