ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Gardening Mistakes and Disasters

Updated on May 13, 2018
Gloriousconfusion profile image

Diana was a Member of the Royal Horticultural Society. She & her family all love gardening. She enjoys photographing & painting plants too.

The Garden of Earthly Delights
The Garden of Earthly Delights | Source

I've Made So Many Mistakes With My Garden

After gardening for fifty years I still have numerous gardening disasters and mistakes. They range from insufficient water, insufficient sunshine, too much sun, not fertilizing sufficiently, earth as hard as iron, heavy clay which is typical London soil, planting shade-loving plants in the sun and sun-loving plants in the shade, waterlogged seed trays, seedlings dying through lack of watering when I was on holiday, squirrels and birds searching for food, and the all-pervasive slugs which devour everything.

Then there are the plants I buy enthusiastically but don't have time to plant, or don't have time to prepare the ground properly, plants which are overgrown or strangled by stronger plants competing for the same space, trampled plants, balls regularly flying over the fence from my next-door neighbours' children on both sides, plants being trampled upon by amateur paid gardeners with boats for feet and two left hands, and over-zealous weeding by a visiting friend.

My Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder Doesn't Work

So I can't feed the birds

The Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder simply isn't squirrel proof . Look at the pictures below of a squirrel stealing up to my squirrel proof bird feeder to see what I mean.

These two unrepeatable photographs are not brilliant because it all happened so quickly, as I was looking out of the window - as soon as I saw the squirrel I grabbed my camera from the next room, but didn't have time to adjust the settings, or even dash outside - I shot them through my window

I confess - these photos are below my usual inimicable standard but interesting enough to compensate

Here's The Squirrel Finding The Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder And Then Pulling Off The Lid

The lid on this squirrel proof bird feeder was secured so tightly that even I could not get it off, but little squirrel did,

I had tied it down with wire which I then twisted, and left it on the bench to see whether it was possible to make it squirrel proof.

I still don't know how he got that lid loose, as I tested it before putting it there.

Squirrel Raiding A Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder--A Proper Photo

He's got his head well into the trough - hope he gets stuck
He's got his head well into the trough - hope he gets stuck | Source

And Here's Another Squirrel

Feeding from a Different Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder

Photograph by Les Howard, who reckons that, at least in his garden, squirrels are becoming genetically modified by having longer thinner heads to fit into bird feeders!

Is It A Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder Or Is It A Bird-Proof Squirrel Feeder?


Below Is One Rose Bush Which Doesn't Flourish And One Bush With Abundant Flowers But So Weak That It Has To Be Supported

A rose bush which doesn't flower is a disappointing rose bush

I have a rose bush which never bears more than two roses at a time. This is a constant disappointment to me as it is adjacent to my front garden path and stands there as a constant reminder.

It was a fairly new breed when I bought it and looked reasonably healthy and vigorous.

I planted it in a fairly sunny border in clay soil. Roses quite like clay.

I fed it occasionally. But it never did well, despite rose food, harsh cutting back and vigorous weeding round the roots. I suspect it is too close to the other rose bush which has an abundant supply of flowers but has such weak straggly branches that it flops all over the place and has to be supported with ties.

This Rose Is Pretty But Not Prolific
This Rose Is Pretty But Not Prolific | Source
This Rose is Prolific, but so Weak that it has to be Supported
This Rose is Prolific, but so Weak that it has to be Supported | Source

My Bulbs Are Frequently Dug Up And Eaten By Squirrels, Slugs And Snails - They Have No Respect

I have even tried protecting my tulips with cloches fashioned from plastic water bottles cut in half, but whilst it might delay the predators, it certainly does not deter them completely, and the bottles look hideous, making the area look like a junk yard, which somewhat defeats the object of having beautiful tulips.

Plastic Bottles Used As Cloches On Tulips


I Grew Two Seed Trays Of Cabbage And Brussels Sprouts, Because I Love Them -

I gave lots away, but most of the ones which I planted for myself fell by the wayside, eaten by I-know-not- what

Which one did the most damage, slugs, snails, birds, squirrels or white cabbage caterpillars, I know not.

Eventually I managed to have about 6 plants actually growing. I was able to pull a few leaves off them whenever I needed a small amount of greens for a meal, but they never developed into real, hearty cabbages. They looked depressed, and even when I covered them with netting, it was impossible to stop all the predators.

I took to going out with a torch in the middle of the night before I went to bed or at 4.00 am just before dawn, gathering slugs and snails and, yes, I admit it, destroying them. I really do feel bad about killing things, but, when it is a competition for life, I don't see why it should be the slugs and snails that have the benefit of the doubt rather than their victims, the cabbages.

A Sad-Looking Cabbage - It Made Me Sad Too!


Here Is A Poem I Wrote On The Subject Of Slugs:

(I went inside and wrote this poem after I had just had a particularly successful slug hunt)


Cats Love Little Earthy Patches In The Garden - They Make Good Toilets

Why can't they go far away - in other people's gardens, or even use their own dirt-box?

No, they have to use your newly-planted seed tray, or the garden seed-bed.

But I have devised a cunning trick -

Cats like bare earth, so that they can turn it over after they've done the bizzo; so wherever I have planted seeds in my vegetable patch, I put in loads of pointed sticks, including broken twigs and anything that looks like a sharp tooth-pick, to deter them.

It really works.

Here Is A Picture Of My Cat, Pussums, About To Avail Herself Of The Facilities In My Flower Bed


Unfortunately, Birds Do Not Stop At Eating Seeds On The Open Ground

They peck the tops off my newly sprouting vegetables and flowers, and something - I won't name names, suffice to say it could be birds, slugs, snails, squirrels or even dormice - ate all my strawberries except one, and every single cherry without exception on my cherry tree. It was only the first year it had borne fruit, so there's a lesson to be learned there, I suppose.

Gardening books recommend that you throw nets over fruit trees, but I do not feel competent to perform this operation in my old age on a tree that is ten feet tall. However, what I did do was get the cherry tree cut back to a few lateral branches, and this year I shall train them horizontally against the perimeter fence, where I will be able to reach them and cover them with netting........more news later this year!

News Update written in Late Summer:

No cherries to eat in June or July yet again, so at the end of summer we cut down our cherry tree, comforting ourselves with the thought that at least the plants under the tree would grow more vigorously and be productive. It's sad to think there will be no more cherry blossom in Spring, but life moves on (said she with a wry smile).

Here's A Bird, A Starling I Think, Eating Seeds In The Garden. The Bird Feeder, Of Course, Was Empty Because The Squirrels Got There First


I Grew About Four Courgette Plants From A Somewhat Larger Number Of Seedlings, Most Of Which Didn't Thrive

Two got eaten by slugs almost immediately, one was eaten by slugs after developing flowers, and the one in the picture below suffered from stem rot which got worse and worse, resulting in the flowers dying off without fully developing, and eventually the whole plant just died on me.

And I can tell you, that was no laughing matter, as I had to water them with a hose every day - they are very thirsty plants.

What did I do wrong? I don't know. If anyone else knows, please put your advice in my Guestbook at the bottom of this page

My Rather Poorly Courgette With A Brown Bud - This Was The Courgette At Its Healthiest -- It Steadily Deteriorated And Only Bore One Courgette Worth Eating


My Spinach And My Three Cabbages Planted In November Bolted

What is "Bolting"? Well may you ask

As far as I can tell, "bolting" means shooting up too fast and growing silly little leaves, seed heads and flowers instead of luscious large leaves that I can pick and eat for my dinner. So I got rid of them in Spring and planted new ones, which were very prolific.

Here Is A Photograph Of My Spinach And Cabbage Bolting

You can just see the cabbage lying on the ground
You can just see the cabbage lying on the ground | Source

I Inherited The Pointed Spade Shown Below

I was really pleased with it, but regrettably it wasn't very strong - in fact that's an over-statement - it bent like tin.

Here's a picture of it after I used it for digging.......well, I thought you were supposed to use the spade for digging, but obviously not - it must have been an ornamental spade.

However, a word of advice: pointed spades are very useful for digging up small things, and I might well replace it.

Spade Bent By Digging Too Hard, Would You Believe?


If you want an attractive garden

Plant short things at the front,

taller things at the back.


spring-flowering plants can

go further back so that

when they die back they are

screened by later-flowering plants.

Co-ordinate your colours

as carefully as you would

if you were buying clothes.

How to Keep Plant Losses to a Minimum:

- Read up on plant requirements before you plant anything out

- Follow the instructions and give plants a chance by planting them in the right conditions

- Protect plants from predators where possible

Take This Poll About Snakes

Have you ever found a snake in your garden - a wriggling, hissing, menacing snake. Or a slithery snake silently watching you? Or going about its snaky, nefarious business?

Coast Garter Snake
Coast Garter Snake | Source

If you found a snake in your garden, what would you do?

See results

Have you got any comments for my guestbook? - Have you had your own garden disasters? Have you got any handy hints? All feedback welcome!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      3 years ago from United Kingdom

      Fortunately I haven't met any good or bad snakes in my English garden and I only one saw a dead snake in our garden when I lived in Africa - someone else must have dealt with it before I came along!

    • PriscillaKing profile image

      Priscilla King 

      3 years ago from Gate City, Virginia

      I said I'd look for an implement to pin the snake because the poll offered options only for dealing with *bad* snakes. Actually I've not had the problem. In the U.S. the bad snakes are bad enough to force us to befriend good ones. I've met only one bad snake--someone had dumped it in the yard, chilled, on quite a warm night--and although I killed it first, my resident snake Gulegi still welcomed it. For breakfast!

    • profile image

      Bill Kasman 

      3 years ago

      Can't say I'm much of a gardener but I recognise many of your mistakes as ones I have also made! Love the slug poem.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I've somewhat given up on feeding anything, as the squirrels have done so much damage - even trying to tear off the wood on my shed door to get in and eat the seeds.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Yes - but I just wish I could have taken better photos - it all happened so quickly, and my camera doesn't click away as fast as I'd like

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      5 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Have to say I enjoyed your misfortunes! It's always good to know we're not the only ones having problems. We actually feed our squirrels now (usually corn in a squirrel feeder), since they eat all the bird seed we put out. I laugh when I see birds eating the squirrels' food!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice hub, I love the squirrel getting his head right into the action......

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Great page...I too struggle with the antics of the squirrels raiding my birdfeeders. I do have to say they are entertainment :)

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 

      5 years ago from New York City

      This page is delightful. There is never enough lighthearted humor, making this even more appreciated.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      @TanoCalvenoa: There really is plenty of advice on the internet, that is, if are interested. If you aren't, it will just seem boring.!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Squirrels are sneaky aren't they. If they can't get into a feeder and it's hung up with string, I have known them gnaw through it so it crashes on the floor.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Your introductory paragraph is exactly why I avoid gardening. I just do not know which plants require what kind of care, and I let me wife do it all while I am the animal expert and care for our pets. I've tried gardening before, and so far have had disasters of various sorts 100% of the time.

    • Maggie42 profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks goodness we don't have squirrels - we do have possums but thankfully they have never caused me any dramas. I think there must be enough for them to eat elsewhere I've heard stories of them even eating chillis! Thanks for this it was good to see that others have disasters as well.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @AlleyCatLane: I have found that fertilizer and compost help a lot - my garden has been much improved over the last 2 years since I was given that advice

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      We must be kin. This sound so much like my luck. I have always admired lovely English gardens full of flowers, but I can hardly get anyhting to grow.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @poutine: it's hard to tell whether it's not enough sun, too much rain, not enough fertilizer, disease, bad pruning, or just sheer bloody-mindedness

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Scarlettohairy: They've just burrowed a hole under my garden shed door, and got into the shed to steal the birdseed and generally chuck things around - will it never end?

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Linda BookLady: I hope it works - I have tried copper bands round pots of hostas, and they still got eaten

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      7 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      This reminds me of my garden! I've had plenty of mistakes and challenges over the years. Next spring I'll be surrounding my raised beds with copper pipe to keep the snail out. They're the worst!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Love to read about other people's boo boos. We all have fails (I have craft fails). Your squirrel feeder photos are hilarious!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I also have problems with a rose bush that I bought about 3 years ago.

      I'm lucky if I have 4 roses coming all summer.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Beautiful, informative and great lens.I saw a snake in my backyard a few days ago, have been thinking of ways on how to get rid of them... somebody told my that aerating the garden will help, now looking for a tool rental to rent an aerator.

    • hysongdesigns profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't often have slugs; only if they come in on something from the nursery, but have grasshoppers, birds, squirrels, chipmunks, pack rats, wild pigs and other assorted wildlife!

    • BlueStarling profile image


      8 years ago

      Very humorous! I thought I was the only one with garden problems, which I find really embarrassing since I actually work as a gardener . . .

    • Rita-K profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh, can I ever relate to you! Every spring I have this desire to plant, plant, plant....but by the end of June every plant is on its own....survive or perish time!

    • chezchazz profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      Wire mesh placed over tulip bulbs will deter squirrels. When tulips start to sprout in the spring, remove the mesh. I use mesh with approximately 1 inch squares. It is available at home depot and similar places in the garden center.

    • MacPharlain profile image


      8 years ago

      Leave out a little bowl of beer (about an inch will do) underneath your plants at night for your slug friends. They'll flock to it and drown.

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 

      8 years ago

      Beautiful, informative and great lens. I actually saw a snake in my backyard a few years ago. It wasn't a pleasant moment but I just left it alone.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Grasmere Sue: Well, you might have the last laugh, because daffodils are toxic, so they might get tummy ache!

      See my page "Poisonous Garden Plants: Daffodils, Lantana and Euphorbia "

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      8 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Where to begin? Mice ate my sweet peas before they could grow, sheep have just taken the tops off my daffodils in the wild garden in spite of the farmer telling me they don't eat daffodils, and the deer will eat almost anything! I wonder why I bother smoetimes!

    • CruiseReady profile image


      8 years ago from East Central Florida

      Very nice lens. Too ba about those cabbages...

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      8 years ago

      So many helpful tips. When it comes to gardening, one must be ready to come across mistakes & disasters because it is one way of learning how to bloom beautiful plants.

    • lemonsqueezy lm profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 

      8 years ago

      Nice lens. I am a bird lover. The brome squirrel buster feeder really works to keep the squirrels out. I love it so much that I created a whole lens on it. Thanks for all of your gardening tips.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      very interesting lens :) I think I'm guilty "NOT to read up on plant requirements before I plant anything out" *lol*

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love it. :) My husband's from England and his family have been market gardeners for as many generations as they can trace. He was born with a green thumb.

      In 10 years in the US, he has been able to grow exactly two (2) servings of broccoli. And exactly zero cauliflowers. We can still grow most of our own food - but some types of plants seem determined to be garden disasters year after year. I guess cold winters, hot summers, and Spring and Autumn seasons that each last about 20 minutes if we are lucky don't help cool season vegetables thrive.

      And that's why we're eating chickweed this week! :)

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 

      8 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      Don't despair, I believe we learn more from our mistakes and disasters than from our successes! I know what you mean about slugs and snails. My pet hate is the bright red lily beetle. I love lilies but this beetle destroys them. I'd go out several times a day and pick them off my lilies by hand and kill them but they got the better of me in the end. They were breeding faster than I was killing them. Loved this page which made me laugh, blessed.

    • GonnaFly profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Hehehe. What an entertaining lens :-) I can relate to many of your disasters, but not the squirrels. That may have something to do with the fact that we don't get squirrels here in Australia.

    • GramaBarb profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver

      Love your lens! My littlest granddaughter successfully grew a container cucumber until it had little cucumbers and then the neighborhood raccoon ate them all. The 'cute' raccoon was not so cute after that... :)

    • justholidays profile image


      9 years ago

      Gardening isn't an easy task and we often have to face many problems. But isn't it the beauty of growing our own plants, flowers and vegetables? In the end, we won the disaster war ;)


    • pkmcruk profile image


      9 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Really nicely put together lens with lots of interesting insights - well done!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)