The woes and lows of a first-time vegetable gardener

This is my first attempt at growing vegetables, and it sure ain’t easy! Not that I thought it would be, but I’m starting to understand why there are so many books and magazines on the subject. I’m also convinced that without human intervention, left to their own devices, vegetables would swiftly become extinct.

In the spring, with vast amounts of help from Jennie, I planted courgettes, cucumbers, carrots, parsnips, garlic, swede, peas, beans, potatoes, pumpkins, gourds, leeks, broccoli, sprouts, spinach and sweetcorn.


  • The potatoes seem to be doing well, as do the peas, beans and garlic.

Failure 😦

  • The leeks failed, and each and every pumpkin seedling was eaten. Oh, and don’t ask about the corn…

Hit and miss

  • Only one cucumber plant seems to be trying to make it, and it’s so small and undeveloped that I doubt it even knows it’s a cucumber.
  • I planted 12 courgette seeds. 9 germinated, 6 were completely eaten, 2 only partially. One is going great guns, and its surviving companions are giving it a good go.
  • The only surviving gourd plant is looking to take over the whole garden.
  • The broccoli and sprout plants are still being eaten alive, even though they’re massive. Oh – only two of each actually survived the slugs and snails.
  • A couple of spinach plants are putting on a good show but the rest just sit there.
  • The first lot of carrot seedlings literally vanished overnight, though the second lot of seeds I planted seem to be doing better.
  • Sadly, my swede army is also vanishing before my very eyes – blink and another one runs away.
  • Finally, the parsnips are hanging in there… all four of them!

So, all in all, I can safely say that my first year has been a bit of a disaster. Looking back at all the effort that went into digging, I want to cry! On the other hand, I’ve harvested some potatoes, and they’re absolutely delicious, which is a massive relief.

Ah well, better luck next year!

14 responses to this post.

  1. Such is life in the garden I am afraid….


    it DOES all balance out though but it tends to be over several years…..

    Still, glad you do have beans, spuds, peas and garlic…thats not bad for a first go!

  2. For years I had a huge vegetable garden. However, with DH unable to help keep it weeded I turned that back into yard a few years ago. Now I am growing tomatoes, chives, herbs, and lettuce in pots. It’s working!

  3. And as you say – you WILL be planting next year 🙂

    But did you know there is still veg you can plant now – spring onions, spring cabbage, kohl rabi, lettuce, peas, french beans, beetroot, carrots and radishes.

    Rosie x

  4. Thanks everyone. It’s frustrating that all my efforts seem to be going into feeding the bloomin slugs and snails – since writing this post yesterday, they (or something) munched away on most of the swedes and half the carrots 😦

    I’ve got some more carrot seeds left so I’ll give them one last go, and then I’m calling it a day. What I get, I get, and I’ll try again next spring!

  5. I’m starting everything in pots, well out of the way of the slugs. Then beer traps surround everything that’s planted out, and so far this seems to have worked better than just bunging the seeds in the ground. It’s much harder work though

  6. I’m afraid I don’t find vegetable growing easy either.

  7. disgruntled, I gave up on the beer traps as those slugs are thirsty critters and I came to the conclusion that with the amount I’d need to spend on beer, I could just buy the very best veggies instead of growing them!

    Having said that, I might rethink this by next year. That, or invest in some copper wire, though I haven’t got the foggiest where I’d start looking!

    re, I’m hoping that practice makes perfect. I mean, I seem to be growing strong and healthy weeds without any problems…!

  8. I know what you mean, but it doesn’t need to be real beer – I find a mix of yeast, sugar, flour and warm water works just as well, and I only refill the traps every couple of days, and then only when it’s drizzly. It’s very satisfying to empty a jam jar stuffed with 30 slugs into the waiting beaks in the chicken enclosure

  9. I left you a gift over on my blog….

  10. dont be disheartened – something always goes wrong for every veg gardener – and you learn – eg i always grow cougettes in pots first, until they are big enough to fight off slugs. each year you work out how to win at something. and one courgette plant is about half a courgette plant more than you need!
    this was my first year at broad beans – a total failure – but I’ll try again next year

  11. We have surrounded all our raised beds with bark and it seems to have worked well at keeping the slugs and snails at bay. It needn’t be expensive. We contacted a tree feller and he gave us a small truck load of shredded tree he had left over, good for environment.


  12. Posted by Karen on 19 July 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Oh Jo, dont give up x Try starting some beans off in pots till they are a decent size to handle a slug attack. Then you can look forward to harvesting some tasty beans.

  13. Welcome to the finicky world of vegetables! For your first time, well done. Each year it will get a little easier and more rewarding as you get used to the ‘whole deal’, learn about your soil and growing conditions. Also, a big thing to learn is what grows well and what doesn’t and then the hard part is getting over your ‘but I want to grow x or y’!

    For me, I’ve had to give up on peppers, squashes/pumpkins, and shell out beans.



  14. Thanks everyone, it’s always a relief knowing that it’s not just me facing veggie disasters!

    There’s no danger of me giving up on the veggie garden, not now that I’ve sampled the home grown potatoes! As you all say, I just need to work out a better strategy and learn from my experiences.

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