I have decided to step down as pro-tem moderator of Gardening & Landscaping Stack Exchange and have informed the SE team of my decision (I will stay on until the new pro-tems are picked).
When the moderator pro-temprore program was established, Stack Exchange had a strict "graduate in 90 days or you're bust" policy, which meant that pro-tem mods served at the most for perhaps 4-5 months before the official elections. However, as more and more sites were added and the topics started getting diverse and further and further away from a typical programmer's hobbies & interests, sites started staying longer in beta (in 3 more months, Personal Finance & Money will have been in beta for 1000 days!).
The role of a pro-temp moderator on a beta site is, in some ways, more challenging than on established and graduated sites. One has to delicately guide the community in editing/curating content, closing/deleting spam and off-topic content, teach new users the ways and mores of the site (and Stack Exchange), initiate/steer ideas and discussions on meta and generally be current with the pulse of the site. However, the challenges facing a beta site (or any site, for that matter) also evolve with time and it is easy for veteran users/original pro-tems to get blindsided by these new challenges.
I believe I'm at the point where I'm starting to get blindsided by some of the site's (IMO serious) shortcomings such as high rate of attrition of users given our size, very small "active user" base, slow user growth, etc. and it is critical to address these soon, to secure the long term future of this site. It's not because of fatigue or flag burden or lack of time — it's just human nature to not "notice" certain things after you've been doing it for a while. I think it's in the best interest of the site if I stepped down and made way for some other excellent users here who are regular and active to continue the work and see us through graduation.
On graduated sites, elections are held roughly every year, which brings fresh blood into the pool, but on beta sites it is up to the community/existing mods to request a change. I personally think that having a changing list of pro-tem moderators with fixed terms (stagger their terms, like for senators), with the possibility of serving again would be a better solution (also keeps them engaged), but that's not how it currently is.
I think I have, on the whole, made a positive contribution to building this community and guiding it through some of its initial struggles over the past 18 months (although there might have been individual disagreements), but it's time to pass the torch. Thanks to all for the opportunity!