5 Ways to Avoid Garden Burnout

5 Ways to Avoid Garden Burnout

Are you one of those “over-zealous” kind of gardeners, who plants more than they will ever be able to eat, can or give away?  Do you start out the gardening season like gang-busters and then burn out by July?  Yeah, I get it.  Is garden burnout avoidable?   Let’s get real and discuss “5 Ways to Avoid Garden Burnout”!

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Over my many years of gardening, I’ve grown many types of gardens in many venues….in the city, in a suburb and in the country.   Some years I enjoyed my garden immensely, other years not so much.  What made the difference between an enjoyable gardening year and a year of garden burnout? 

How can we avoid garden burnout?

large garden

Garden Burnout Tip #1: Don’t Plant too Much 

This is my greatest weakness. 

I am always worried that weather or pestilence will kill my plants, so I over-plant to compensate for loss. 

The problem for me is that I don’t have much loss, and so I have way more produce than I need. 

So, I can and dehydrate all that is possible, I give to my neighbors and the food pantry and STILL, I have more produce than I know what to do with. 

This leaves me with a couple of choices: let it rot or abuse myself by staying up all hours of the night canning. 

Neither choice is a good one. 

The solution is to plant less and stop worrying about loss. 

Loss happens, I need to accept that.  So be it.  Here is a great little calculator to help you decide how much you need for your family!

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Baby eating

Garden Burnout Tip #2: Don’t Plant Food that Your Family Doesn’t Really Like 

OK, tell me that I’m not the only one who does this! 

You’re thumbing through that seed catalog and you see beautiful golden beets, wow, aren’t they pretty? 

Your family has never liked beets in the past, but they just might like these! 

You’ll come up with new and different ways to prepare them and you’re just convinced that they will love them!!! 

You know what happens, right? 

You plant the beets, you harvest the beets, you cook and serve the beets and what does your ungrateful family say? 

“Bleck!  We hate beets!”. 

Yeah, don’t go there.  Only plant food that you are sure they will eat.

Heirloom Vegetable, Herb & Flower Seeds

Garden Burnout Tip #3: Don’t Plant Food that You Don’t Have Room For

Before planting that watermelon or cantaloupe, consider how much room the vines will need to run. 

Otherwise, you’ll forever be rounding up all the vines and trying to get them to stay inside the garden bed. 

This doesn’t make for a fun summer, as the lawn mower person doesn’t recognize fruit and just runs them all over. 

Yes, I know this from repeated experience.

dead garden with rocking chair

Garden Burnout Tip #4: Don’t Plant Food that Doesn’t Grow Well in Your Zone

No matter how badly you want tomatoes from your shady garden, you’re probably not going to get them. 

Be realistic. 

Tomatoes and peppers demand full sun, and will not produce otherwise. 

Spend some time looking at the direction your garden faces, as well as what obstacles to the sun are present.  

Trees or bushes could be removed, especially if they are unhealthy or don’t really contribute to the landscape.

Garden Burnout Tip #5: Don’t Plant Food for the Wrong Reasons

Does anyone else have that relative that asks you to grow things for them, but then never comes and pick them? 

This happened to me quite a lot in past years.  

I set myself up for disappointment by planting enough food for others to enjoy as well, only asking that they come help and pick “their” produce.

But for some reason, people get busy and don’t show up.

Plant what YOU want, what YOU need and what YOU’LL enjoy!  Life is too short not to enjoy your garden!

White Harvest Seed Company

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Kathi

    That’s all very good advice, Kelly! Thanks!

    1. Holly Whiteside

      Good suggestions. I’d like to add another. I’m working a community garden where previous gardeners “gave it up” in July, and i think the main reason was that the weeds got out of control and they became overwhelmed. So I would say one of the main things you need to do to avoid burnout is to know weed strategies and come up with a good plan for reducing weed pressure, right from the start. For example, we tarp several weeks before starting a new bed, use no-till methods, make sure our compost gets hot so we aren’t adding weed seeds to the bed, use “pre-emerging” techniques, transplant some crops, dig out the whole root if it is dandelion, burdock, thistle, or other tap root, and on whatever weeds we have left we use a stirrup hoe or a wire weeder which are several times faster than hand weeding. Yes, that’s a lot of strategies, but we have very little weed pressure now and spend only a couple hours a week weeding, even in late summer. The garden looks very good, and we see the vegetables, not the weeds.

      1. Kelly

        Excellent suggestions, Holly!

        1. Donna Burch

          Great advice on gardening. All of us, plant way too much in the beginningm i think i get carried away because i cant stand to see things die. So if i soak the seeds and get them to root i have enough to plant 40 acres from a single seed pack. I dont have that much land to plant. I often give those rooted seeds to others that garden. If they let them die, I never know. It so no guilt. But it is a problem seeing all those little seeds take the life from God and start to mature into a plant with so much potential.

          Im setting up my bee hives again. Havent had them for many years. Each year i would think that i wanted to play with the bee babies again. When i kept bees before all you had to work about was foul brood and trichena mites. Now there are other diseases that eradicate our valuable resource so nessasary to our survival on this planet. What else out there Kelly do I need to treat my hives for to keep them healthy and thriving. I live in North Carolina…the piedmont of the state. I work an average of 100 hours a week doing private duty nursing at night so sleep, gardening and some life has to be conducted during the day. I no longer have time for beekeeping classes or meetings with my local beekeeping association. If you could text me what i need to research for their safe life with me, i can research it on internet at night when my patients are asleep. Your help and expertise is much appreciated.

          1. kmorris

            Hi Donna!

            I really love this book for natural beekeeping…

            I also love Fat Bee Man’s YouTube’s channel for organic tips for bees. He’s a hoot!

            My bees are completely chemical-free and I use essential oils to keep mites and wax moths away. In my opinion, it’s easier than using all of those toxic chemicals!

            Best to you and your beekeeping efforts!


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