I have three raised garden beds but chose to plant only in the first two beds leaving the last empty.
No plants this year. No vegetables coming. Empty. A waste you say?
Maybe. But my observation is this: for the past two years, the yield in this bed has been extremely low. The plants did not grow and produce.
Clearly a change was needed. Part of the problem is that this bed gets the least sun by far. There’s a huge oak tree blocking the sun. But I love the tree so it’s staying.
The best I can do is not plant and hope for better things in the future.
And that’s the truth. Not every year is a major gardening year. Sometimes you just plant a lot less or don’t plant at all.
Maybe just a few tomatoes, a pepper and herbs in patio pots to keep life simple.
So it’s time to let go of the garden guilt because here’s 5 reasons you shouldn’t plant a garden this year.
1.) It’s high time to give the garden bed a rest
At best, plants are at a standstill and I might glean one tomato at the end of the season. Big whoop! Why bother?
It was time to take drastic measures!
The soil became depleted of nutrients. And this bed gets a lot less sun that further discourages growth. There’s not much I can do about the sun issue~ that’s here to stay.
But I can replenish the soil and build up the organic matter. That’s what I plan to do. The first step is allowing the soil to rest.
Fortunately, I still had my cardboard on top from the fall, so there weren’t any existing weeds.
But if the bed you want to rest has weeds, you might want to smother it with cardboard so that’s it’s ready for planting next year.
I decided to pull the big cardboard chunks off and till in the rest. I like to keep tilling to the bare minimal as to not disturb my earthworm friends nor stir up weed seeds.
When crab shell is added to the soil it helps create a hostile environment for fungus and nematodes by feeding the biological life.
There was also some leftover worm casings from the year prior that I topdressed with. (Who doesn’t have worm poop in their garage?)
And I also sprinkled in Dr. Earth organic tomato, vegetable and herb fertilizer along with some glacial rock dust.
I like Dr. Earth fertilizers because they are safe for me, my pets and my kids. Better still, they really do help with root development and creating big, beefy plants.
Glacial rock dust has lots of those special trace minerals like Copper, Manganese, Nickel, Phosphorus, Tin, Tantalum, Cobalt, Chromium, Strontium, Borori, Potassium, Zinc and so forth.
You can’t over-apply racial rock dust making it safe. It improves soil structure, nutrient availability, and bacterial action. So when you help the soil microbes thrive, you do likewise to your soil.
The plan is to add a thick layer of organic mulch down the road. This includes chopped leaves, straw, and aged manure to about a depth of 3-4 inches.
The term farmers use is “letting the field go fallow.” So there you have it. We are real farmers now!
2.) It’s the wrong season in your life
As much as I appreciate and love having a young family, they are draining. My energy levels at um, 40 just aren’t what they were at 23. Fact!
And there’s always so much to do. Laundry, dinner, school activities, music lessons, church, repeat. Go. Go. Go. Nevermind this blog I maintain alongside my garden!
There are days when I am insanely jealous that my husband gets to “go to work” and have adult conversation without three kids clamoring at his ankles asking for something.
Being a stay-at-home mom is a tough job! And don’t get me started on how potty training my just turned 2-year-old boy is going!
So I’m learning that life goes through cycles. Soon, all too soon my kids will grow up on me and I’ll have plenty of time to fuss over the garden again.
But for now, my focus needs to be on my young family. Family before plants!
Flourishing children is my main objective now, the garden can wait.
Or maybe you’re dealing with a family crisis. Heath issues. Or you’re going through a big move or job change. It’s not the year for a garden.
Focus on what’s in front of you and garden at leisure.
3.) The weather hasn’t been cooperative
Most plants love sun. Tomatoes in particular are simply not going to thrive without bountiful sun.
To make matters worse, our Western New York growing season is short. Sometimes June, July and August are all you’ve got.
Come September, plants start to fizzle and there’s usually a hard frost in October.
So if you can’t plant by Memorial Day or at least by the first week of June, there may be no point to planting at all.
That harsh hand of frost could easily strike before your plants have the chance to produce.
And if there’s not going to be produce at the end of it all, why plant at all?
When May turned out to more like the month of April here, 40-50 F. temps and dreary rain, I knew right then and there that summer was unlikely to turn around.
It’s just not going to be a stellar gardening year here unless the sun situation changes. (doubt it).
So I scaled back. And maybe you should should consider scaling back if the weather has been a washout in your area.
4.) Your ailing health
Planting directly in the ground is harsh on your joints and muscles and none of us are getting any younger here!
This is why I’m so passionate about raised beds. Less bending over. Feels like less work.
If you don’t have any raised beds and you’re feeling the burn, it’s okay to wait until you can afford to buy a few or even build a few through a DIY project.
It’s also perfectly acceptable to plant just a few tomatoes, herb, peppers and a zucchini in patio pots. Why overdo it?
If you’re in pain, then why push yourself? Don’t make garden work drudgery. It’s either pleasurable or not.
We only have so much time, if gardening isn’t “working” for you, it’s time to find another hobby that easier on your joints and muscles.
5.) You have access to plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit
I don’t garden overall to save money. I find once you factor in the price of plants, water, fertilizer, other amendments, tools and such you’re spending plenty.
It’s more about the convenience of having fresh tomatoes and herbs to cook with and the fun of it.
The challenge. How big can I get those tomatoes? Can I grow the biggest, baddest peppers? We’ll see!
I enjoy teaching my kids about where their food comes from and the excitement they get from watching a seed product food.
But maybe you’re one of those lucky people who live in the country next to farmers who are selling produce cheaply. I’m talking 50 cents a pepper or $2 for a quart of tomatoes.
It’s still possible to spot zucchini for 25 cents.
Maybe you even have a neighbor who throws you enough tomatoes and peppers for personal use, so why bother with your own?
If you don’t love the gardening experience and you have access to lots of seasonal produce~ buy and do something else with your time!