Why Won’t My Garden Grow? Gardening When You Don’t Have a “Green Thumb”

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My son and I love to garden, and dad gets in on it as well- at least on the vegetable gardening portion. I’ve always wanted one of those amazing, fragrant rose gardens (of course, with other flowers in the mix as well) and my son shares this dream, perhaps oddly.  He loves to run around in gardens, and now that he’s older, take photos of all of his favorite flowers. Roses top that list.


We plant seeds inside each year as well, and transplant the ones that can live outdoors outside when the weather is right.  My son loves watching his little greenhouses grow.  They are also fun 4H projects for the end of the year now that he’s old enough to participate in those clubs.  There are all sorts of cute kits we like to try, as well as the traditional seeds and dirt.


We also grow a fruit and (mostly) vegetable garden every year.  We don’t have a large yard, and neither of our gardens are huge- just rows along the fences. But we enjoy it, and that’s what matters. Some of the plants we grow from seeds, others from “starter” plants from home stores, and this year from these interesting pods from Miracle Gro. (Read about them here if you want.)  I hadn’t seen them before, but he likes them, and most of them are growing pretty well so far.


We are also going to pick up some hanging baskets this year for strawberries and hulaberries- which are similar, but have a pineapple flavor. We usually grow them on the ground, but thought we’d try something new this year since we are growing both blackberries and blueberries this year as well.


Last year, I didn’t do much with the garden.  It has quickly become over-run with weeds and growth.  My bushes, plants, and flowers (bulbs too!) have just not been doing well, and it’s frustrating.  The bulbs have been rotting in the ground, 2 out of 4 rosebushes have died over the past 4 years, 1 out of 2 azaleas have died (and the other won’t grow), and neither hydrangea is growing or doing well. I’ve been composting, tilling the soil, fertilizing, and winterizing the plants- and with no luck.


This year, as gardening season finally gets started here in NJ, I’m really making an effort to figure out what’s going on with my poor garden.  Is it the soil, the sunlight, some kind of bug- or just a terrible gardener?

We started with 2 days of garden cleanup, weeding, tilling, etc, and put a few new plants in.  Let us see how this season progresses.

Wish me luck, please!



  1. Bob Erickson says

    Hi Samantha. I read your gardening article with interest as it sort of follows my gardening journey which started about fifteen years ago. From what you wrote, I would suggest two main things. First, test your soil particularly the pH. Most likely, you will need to add compost plus other amendments. Second, based on your area and soil analysis, choose your plants carefully. Azaleas need acidic soil to thrive while vegetables generally need fairly neutral soil. Roses like light acidic soil. The honest truth is that everything about growing anything starts with the soil. You can adjust it to a certain extent but it is better to work with Mother Nature and you will be surprised at what you can grow beautifully. Have a great day and a good garden.

    • Samantha says

      Thanks Bob! We are indeed going to test the soil. While I’ve been composting for years, I might need to so some things differently, who knows! It sure is frustrating sometimes, lol.

      • Bob Erickson says

        It can be frustrating for sure and you quickly find out what our ancestors have known for generations; going your own food is very rewarding but also hard work especially when the weather and things don’t cooperate. I just harvested about twenty pounds of onions and that is one of the rewards.

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