Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mistakes New Gardeners Make

Gardening is fun. Its exercise.  It’s rewarding. It gets you out into the fresh air. It puts food on your plate.  I could go on and on.  But sometimes a garden can get out of hand, especially for beginners.  Then their viewpoint of having a garden will look a lot different from mine. 
So if you’re a beginner, read through some of the most common mistakes novice gardeners make and see if you’re trending towards “I’ll never plant a garden again . . . ever!”

** Don’t start out too big.  Boy is it tempting to want to plant everything you see, especially if this is your first year.  Think small.  Pick your favorite vegetables (or flowers) and choose the ones that are easiest to grow. (See my recent blog Easy to Grow Vegetables)  You’ll find it will give you the same sense of accomplishment all while increasing your gardening skills. 

** Lack of soil preparation.  Take the time to get your soil ready. (See my recent post Getting the Scoop on Dirt) Start working it as early in the spring as possible.  Of course, that depends on your local weather—you don’t want to be slopping around in the mud. Then let the soil rest until you’re ready to plant later in the spring.

** Follow planting instructions.  When the seeds say cover with one inch of soil, they mean it.  If you plant seeds too deep, they may never germinate.  Too shallow and they may dry out prematurely. Some seeds like laying on top the soil or with only a sprinkling of dirt to keep them from blowing away.  That’s because they need sunlight to start their germination process. 

** Plants need space.  Again, follow the instructions on the seed packets.  If your seedlings are too close together, they’ll struggle to get needed nutrients, sun, and water.  Although there are reasons to plant plants closer than specified—it is better to follow the instructions.  Especially if this is your first garden.

** Plants need sunshine.  Make sure your garden is in an area that gets enough sunlight.  Check the recommendation on the back of your seed packets.  Vegetables need sun all day long. Flowers have varying needs. 

** Plants need water. If you don’t give plants enough water, they tend to wilt.  Although a plant can endure a minor drought, if you wait too long, it could ultimately kill the plant.  The opposite is—don’t drown the plants in your garden.  Depending on your location, every other day or two is sufficient. A good watering will dampen the soil all the way to the plants roots and provide the moisture they need. 

** Planting at the incorrect time. Many crops have an ideal planting time. When the seed packet says to plant outside in warm soil, it’s because if planted too early the plant will suffer if it gets cold. Cold weather crops, like Broccoli and Peas will bolt when it gets hot. Follow the instructions on the back of the seed packet for best results.

Your turn:  What mistake have you made when gardening?

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