I’ve been gardening for a little more than 30 years and for about 15, maybe even 20 of those years, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I loved gardening. I moved through the entire process, had some successes, a lot of failures, but there were some things that if I would have known all those years ago, I would have had much greater success. So join me as I discuss the five things that I wish I knew when I started gardening. Hi, I’m Gardener Scott and I love gardening. And I love sharing my knowledge and my experience with other gardeners… particularly new gardeners. Because even though it was a long time ago I once was a new gardener. In fact, I considered myself a new gardener for many, many years because I just kept making mistakes, and things didn’t go right. But I persevered and I kept going trying to learn what it was I did wrong. And back then there was no internet and there was no YouTube video to help out along the way. It was just me and usually a dog trying to figure out the process. And it’s the gardening process that I really love. It’s the doing, the learning, having those problems, and then overcoming those problems and having the successes. But I think that’s one of the biggest issues with gardening overall… a lot of new gardeners have grand visions of the garden space and then it doesn’t turn out as they had planned. It’s too hard and they give up. And I really don’t like to see anyone give up on gardening. It’s too important. So today I’m sharing those five things that I think if you realize their importance and even learn more about them, it will make the entire process easier for you, and you’ll have more successes. The problems will still be there, but you’ll enjoy when your garden turns out the way you really did envision it. The first important thing to know… Soil is key. One of the first things I learned in my Master Gardener training was that 80% of plant problems can be traced to your soil. If something’s not going right, look to the soil. If things are going right, it’s probably because you cared about your soil. And too few gardeners realize that. They throw band-aid fixes on their garden. Chemicals, things that they heard about, or saw a video about, and hope that that will fix the problem they have. But it probably comes down to how good is your soil. A textbook soil should be 45% mineral content 25% air 25 percent water and 5 percent organic matter. And very few gardeners realize that. They’ll focus on the watering or they’ll focus on the tilling to get some of that air in there or they’ll focus on the compost to get that organic matter. But it’s an entire process. All of those things need to be working together for your soil to be the best that it can be. So think about the soil as the foundation of your garden, quite literally. If you get your soil right, if you realize that’s where most of the problems come from, the entire process is going to be easier and I guarantee you with good soil you’ll have good plants. And with good plants you’ll love gardening more than you ever thought possible. The second thing to know is that bugs happen. You’re going to have insects in your garden. So try not to worry about it. In fact, use it to your advantage because there are many beneficial insects out there. They’re predators that will eat the bad bugs and if you just focus on the bad bugs and not on the good bugs you can create an imbalance that really leads to a downward spiral and lots of problems in your garden. I know because I had that issue early in my gardening career. I had bad bugs and I would spray the chemicals to kill them, not knowing that I was also killing the good bugs. And as soon as one bad bug moves out, there’s another one ready to move in. And if you don’t have the good bugs ready to battle that onslaught, well, the bad bugs take over and can devastate your garden. So get away from the chemicals. In fact at the Galileo Garden, in particular, I used no chemicals at all. And once I learned to attract the beneficial insects I could just sit back, because nature was in balance. And I had very few issues with the bad bugs eating my plants. I had great harvests because bugs happen and I didn’t worry about it. The third thing you need to know is that weeds will win. You’re always going to have weeds. So don’t focus so much on a few weeds in your garden that it drives you crazy. I know gardeners who have stopped gardening because they just couldn’t handle the weed problem. Learn about weeds and why they’re a problem. One of the easiest ways to control weeds is to use mulch. The mulch cuts down on the weeds, dramatically. But it doesn’t eliminate them. I had one volunteer at the Galileo Garden who loved weeding. That was her favorite activity and she would get her knee pad and spend hours just pulling weeds. I never quite got to that point, but I had great admiration for her because she accepted that weeds were part of the gardening process and she turned that around to make it an enjoyable experience. Now, I’m not saying you have to enjoy weeding. But accept it. In fact it also ties in with that insect issue. Some weeds attract beneficial insects. So it may be in your best interest to let some of the weeds grow They can also help with the birds in your garden and lots of those other beneficial things that happen when nature is in balance. So don’t fight it. You can keep it under control. Stay away from the chemicals, but don’t stress over it because it’s a natural part of gardening. The fourth thing to know is that patience is a virtue. This whole gardening journey takes time to get to the point where you can enjoy it as much as I do and to have some successes along the way. There are many many gardeners who want it now and so they spend a lot of time and a lot of money, this year, to get this year’s harvest perfect. And when it doesn’t happen they walk away. Have some patience. Accept this gardening experience as something to enjoy at every step along the way. This is a Honey Crisp apple tree that I planted last month. It’s established pretty well, but in another few months, I’m actually going to cut it back by about half so that I can get the size and the shape perfect. It’s going to be three, maybe even five, years before I get any fruit off of this tree, but I have the patience to accept that that’s just how long it takes. I can almost guarantee you that when I harvest the first apple off of this tree it will be one of the best tasting apples that I’ve ever had because I waited so long to get it. And that holds true with so many other aspects of gardening. When you wait so long for something to happen it just tastes better. It feels better. It’s so much more enjoyable. That soil issue… well, it takes time to resolve. The insects and the weeds… it takes time for those things to come into balance. And if you’ve got the patience to accept that, you really will have better gardening success. Enjoy it. Enjoy the journey. Don’t be in such a rush. And at some point you’ll be able to look back on 30 years and be happy with everything that happened along the way. The fifth thing that I wish I knew when I first started gardening was that there are going to be failures. Many, many failures. In fact, many years there will be more failures than successes. But if we take those failures and learn from them, next year will be better… unless it’s not. Because maybe the next year we’ll have more failures, but it’s okay because we’ll learn from them and next year will be better… but maybe it won’t. Maybe we’ll have more failures. And that’s one of the things we have to deal with as gardeners. We’re always striving for the next year to be better. But we have to accept that sometimes the failures we have this year is just the price we pay for being gardeners. And ultimately we get to that point where we can enjoy those failures because we know we’re going to learn from that, and have that success. When I get together with my gardening friends, what’s one of the biggest things we talk about? Its what went wrong. Because when we can share those failures with someone else, it makes us realize that we’re not alone in this gardening journey. Everyone else is having the same failures, but maybe someone has that successful season and we can all revel in that experience because it feels good. If one gardener is happy, all gardeners are happy. And I really believe that. So you embrace those failures. Use them. Help them make you a better gardener so that you can reach the point where it’s all an enjoyable experience. It’s all part of the journey. And then you can be like me and share the experiences for those who haven’t learned about it yet. If you have any comments or questions about these five issues, or if you want to share some of your own, well, then just let me know in the comments below. If you’d like to see more of these gardening videos, well, then subscribe to the Gardener Scott channel and make sure you click on the bell so you’re notified when new videos come out. If you like this video, well, then give me a thumbs up and share it. I’m Gardener Scott. Enjoy gardening.