How To Avoid the Biggest mistakes of a Beginner Gardener

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    Over the past few months we have been talking with gardeners and asking them what are some of the biggest mistakes you made when you first got into Gardening.

    This How To will cover some of them in hopes that you can avoid them.

    Over Planting and Not Pruning

    The first mistake that many people shared was that they didn’t give their vegetables enough room to grow. On your package of seeds or on your planing spikes there is normally information about how large the plant will be and how you should space plants.

    Additionally you really have to know a bit about how a plant grows and when pruning it is a benefit. Most tomato plants require pruning to be healthy and heavy fruiters but most people have an aversion of cutting off branches.. especially ones that have flowers that might grow tomatoes.

    Not giving enough room for your plants to grow means less sun and less performance. You will have less fruit or growth and it won’t be the type of growth you want. If lettuce or cabbage isn’t spaced well it won’t grow into a head It will get long and stringy and not be of good quality.

    Don’t be afraid to thin your plants even if it feels like you will be losing harvest. The thing is if the plant is edible like lettuce you can use the thinning for tonight’s dinner.


    Not preparing the Soil Right

    A number of people seem to have been completely clueless about preparing their soil for a garden. One person said they got from that C-List site..  what was described as topsoil for free and another said they only tilled their grass under in the backyard and didn’t add any supplements.

    You have basically two choices when preparing for a garden. Either you supplement your soil heavily with peet moss and organic material along with fertilizer and lime or you purchase a load of Mushroom Soil or other Organic Soil available in your area that is basically ready for planting with a bit of care.

    The problem with preparing the soil you have in your yard is that most likely your yard was stripped of hundreds of years of topsoil buildup and that topsoil was sold to cover the startup costs of building homes in your area. Thats what they do. They clear the land of the first foot or so of really good soil and sell it and make enough to cover the cost of gravel for roads and concrete for your foundation. Whats left is garbage clay with almost no organics so they keep a pile of it and place about 2 inches or so on your yard to grow grass. You never know this if you don’t visit the work site while your home was being built but you will know when you try to drive a shovel in the ground and its hard as concrete. That soil is not good for growing and supplementing it is like trying to make dinner by starting with a big bag of shredded cardboard.. no matter how much you add to it.. its still not very good.

    Poor Garden Planning or Plant Layout

    The next group of people voicing mistakes were people that didn’t design their garden right. The use of raised beds has become a fad but implementing that design takes over much of your garden. It also makes it difficult to work with plants. I would say about 60 percent of people didn’t enjoy this gardening method and thought it was a waste of time, effort and materials. Personally I think it was some fussy person that decided that the garden was too messy with all that dirt and they wanted to pretty it up.. unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.. and they must have passed out when the manure showed up so.

    The next group with this problem were people that had plantings that overgrew such as Raspberries, Blueberries and the like. Also things like Roses. They don’t actually become like wild versions of the plant but they get so out of control its almost dangerous tending to the thorny plants once they get out of control. Some people suggest burning them out and starting over or using a tractor to mow them down again very dangerous but sometimes you have no choice. The best thing when planting Fruit Trees or Bushes that can grow for decades is to care for them every year by cutting back what you should and by managing new shoots of growth. For trees you have to be very careful cutting branches but if you don’t cut a few crossover branches and prune back fruit trees you could end up losing the whole tree.

    Improper Watering of Vegetable Gardens

    The final group we will talk about are people that have problems with watering. Some people are too aggressive in their watering and this can lead to problems with roots which then results in plants dying or poor fruit production. Others neglect to water enough and one family talked about how they went on a long vacation only to come back to a damaged garden because the person they asked to care for it didn’t water it enough.

    Another person brought up that they placed plants with different water needs together and by watering one group they caused problems for the other. This can happen for Onions and cabbage and cucumbers. Over watering cucumbers results in a flavorless fruit that grows too quick in its final days before harvest.

    Final Note

    The mistakes you make are not the end of the world. Even if you have problems with your garden you can always go to the grocery store. On the other hand you need to realize your mistakes to improve your next attempt.

    If you find you have problems in the spring and summer you can often get another cool plant variety harvest in the fall. You need to keep track of your methods and chart your results if you want the best results. Just trying to remember won’t quite cut it when 2 or 3 months later you have problems.

    Plan well and prepare your soil, learn how to best care for your plants and follow proper spacing and pruning methods for best results. If you do this you are likely to have a great harvest.

    Gardening simple produce isn’t very hard.. but when you want to graduate to the tough plants you need to understand your methods and how to control your garden.


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