Re-GOOPs: a review of 2011’s gardening-oops

Welcome to January 1, 2012. The first of each month is confessional time. Time to fess up to a gardening blunder, or gardening oops. GOOPs for short. I share one of my gardening mis-steps and hope you’ll do the same.

This is Re-GOOPs month, when I look back at some of the GOOPs from last year.

The GOOPs that drew the most comments is from June 2011. I described how the landscape fabric we installed, as directed by the block manufacturer, while building a retaining wall planting bed became blocked with fine soil silt. It hinders drainage to the point of making the bed virtually unplantable (new word?) during rainy springs/summers. Most of the comments to this post mentioned similar and other landscape fabric issues. I even had a manufacturer suggest we had installed the landscape fabric incorrectly …. we didn’t.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA To use the bed last season I dug out some of the soil so large clay pots would rest on the fabric layer. I filled the pots with new soil and planted them with hot peppers, cherry tomatoes and eggplant.

Trailing nasturtium seeds and coleus seedlings went into the remaining soil surrounding the sunken pots.

I promised, back in June, to report whether my scheme worked.

The hot peppers thrived, the tomatoes did okay, and the eggplant was not happy.

I planted bush and pole beans between a couple of pots at the far end but, with such a wet growing season, the soil remained too moist for the beans to really thrive.

The nasturtiums and coleus, however, had a banner year.

No aphids … not one.

The nasturtiums went wild, they never had a mid-summer slump, and the coleus grew mighty tall and bushy right up to first frost.


Eventually I plan to remove all the soil from this bed. I’m on the lookout for decorative planters that will fit the space and style of the surrounding block. The planters, which I’ll fill seasonally, will sit in the raised bed on top of and within decorative stone. The stone will facilitate drainage and the planters will add seasonal interest and break up the visual impact of the long, narrow bed. I can also add other interesting accents – think cool rocks, shells, candles – at my whim. The new design is still germinating in my idea seed bank but, in the meantime, the sunken clay pots work as a temporary planting solution.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy GOOPs tale of voles eating crocus bulbs and deer nibbling on crocus and Tete-a-tete narcissi garnered a number of sympathetic comments. I think the photos of bright, cheery blooms followed by shots of stubby green leftovers helped in the sympathy department. Isn’t this sad?

My solution for the narcissi is to cover newly emerging shoots with upside-down apple baskets each night and to keep a sharp eye out for marauding deer during daylight. For the crocus issue I’ve taken the advice from Nell Jean at Seedscatterer. I planted tommies (Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant and Barr’s Purple).

I won’t know till spring whether voles left the tommies alone. Keeping fingers crossed and praying to the bulb gods.


The last Re-GOOPs for today is Don’t count your tomatoes … a gardening oops. It’s another tale, and another sad photo, of creature damage. This time from those cute, fast-moving, devilish chipmunks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey have superb ripe-tomato radar. The only way for me to beat them to the fruit was to pick before the tomatoes were totally ripe and let them finish ripening on a windowsill. So far the chipmunks haven’t figured out how to get into my kitchen. Keeping fingers crossed and praying to the fox gods.

Looking back reminded … though I didn’t really need it … that weather had a huge impact in 2011. Three GOOPs posts  – February, March and November – involved snow and I hurricane/tropical storm Irene prevented a GOOPs post on September 1 (no power for seven days).

I suspect 2012’s GOOPs will also involve weather and creatures and creatures and weather. At least that gives me the chance to blame something besides my own actions.

I hope you’ll join the GOOPs party this year. If you are REALLY gardening then you must have made a GOOPs or two.

Either add your GOOPs tale in a comment below or post your GOOPs on your blog and leave a teaser in a comment below.

Happy New Year. Garden thoughtfully.

7 comments for “Re-GOOPs: a review of 2011’s gardening-oops

  1. January 1, 2012 at 8:27 am

    It’s the time of year to do a review, and I did as well — my review of 18 months of errors in the garden is posted on my blog. I like your follow ups here, it’s good to know how the recovery plans worked out after a problem. Your retaining wall design will be so much fun to experiment with!

    Here’s to 2012, and may the chipmunks never figure out how to get into your kitchen.

    • joenesgarden
      January 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      I’m giving my retaining wall ideas some time to develop, Laurrie. Eventually I hope to take this area off my trouble list. Hope we can share gardening successes as well as humorous GOOPs through 2012.

  2. January 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I gave up planting many bulbs because of the voles. I plant lots of daffodils which they do not bother, and I plant tulips in a wire mesh protected bed. I will have to try the tommies. Crocus flowers are so nice in the very early bleakness of spring.

    • joenesgarden
      January 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Sage Butterfly, I’ll post photos and updates on the tommies when they bloom … thinking positively here in hopes the voles really do leave tommies alone.

  3. January 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Happy New Year, Joene. I’m already worrying that this mild winter is going to be a boon to the deer population, providing still more deer-related gardening trials for all of us come spring.

    • joenesgarden
      January 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm

      I agree, Jean. I chased a few deer from my front yard earlier this evening and again later. Without acorns they are eating just about anything. I hope the new year finds you healthy, your gardens flourishing, and your deer well fed with plant material found outside of your gardens.

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