So often when living this homesteading lifestyle, things just don't go as planned. From bread not rising, to garden pests destroying crops, to the heartbreaking loss of livestock, it's never easy to try your hardest and still have things completely fail.
Every year it seems like a new challenge presents itself. This year is no exception. Every winter I get out my plant lights and dirt and seeds and start several varieties of vegetables in the house. Here in Southern Wisconsin we have a relatively short growing season so getting a jump start on spring is required for many plants. I started my peppers about the same time as usual and not one seed germinated. I tried again, this time starting my tomatoes as well. A few days later, little green shoots emerged, and I thought all was well.
I tended to the delicate seedlings like I always do with lights, heat, water, and an occasional epson salt spray (a great way to give them a boost of magnesium). But as the weeks passed, I began to notice something, the seedlings were not growing. They emerged, grew about 2" and then stopped. Last year at this time I had 2' tall plants that were beginning to blossom, now I have 2" tall plants that look like they are weeks old, not months.
I'll admit, this dilemma is bothering me more than it probably should. As someone who prides themselves on what they grow, this has been a real punch to the gut. I know I could go out and buy healthy started plants at many of the garden shops in my town, but it just doesn't feel right when I have devoted months to these wimpy little seedlings. The fact that I can't replicate what I have done so many times in the past is making me scratch my head a feel like a complete failure. But I'm doing my best to look at this as a learning lesson. Where can I improve? What can I do to ensure this problem doesn't arise again and how can I fix it if it does?
So, despite their size, and despite the fact that they may not ever grow large enough to fruit, these little plants are destined for the garden. I'm going to say a little prayer, place them gently in the ground, and allow nature to either help them thrive or make them a casualty of 'survival of the fittest'. And if the homestead is a little light on peppers and tomatoes this year then I will just have support one of our many local producers at our farmers market and hope for a better crop next year.
What are your biggest 'homesteading' failures? What lessons did you learn? Share your stories in the comments, I would love to hear from you!