So, you’ve always wanted a garden but aren’t sure you’ve got a green thumb? Don’t worry. To be a successful gardener takes some planning, research, hard work, and most of all patience, but it isn’t a particularly difficult project to undertake. More important than knowing what to do, is knowing what not to do.
Here are some of the common gardening mistakes that beginners make.
1. Choosing the Wrong Location
The first thing to think about is the location of your garden. Would it be nice to have a small vegetable garden in the back yard? Or maybe a flowerbed around your home’s perimeter? Sure! But you can’t just start digging.
Most plants need adequate sun to thrive, so you have to really monitor your yard for a day or two and notice how the sunlight hits the area you’re considering. Does your old oak tree cast a shadow over the area for most of the day? If so, it’s probably not the right spot to start planting.
Location is also important because of your utilities. While you’re not likely to run into any utilities when you plant a seed, roots from large trees will go deep into the earth as the tree grows. If you haven’t put a lot of thought into your planning, these roots could interact with underground piping or wiring. Sometimes it can be beneficial to call your utility company before digging just to be on the safe side.
2. Thinking Too Big
Once you’ve determined the best area to start planting in, you need to think about the scope of your project. One common first-time gardener mistake is to take on more than you can handle.
It’s easy to have visions of feeding the world with your garden, but starting off your first year of planting with such a huge undertaking in mind won’t likely work out. It is more likely to just overwhelm you. Keep in mind that it is a lot of work to have a successful garden, and the bigger the garden the more work it requires. It is best to start off small, and as you become more knowledgeable and have a better idea of what plants work best for you, start expanding the garden.
3. Overlooking Soil Conditions
One mistake beginners make is thinking that all soil is suitable for planting. Checking the soil is small step in getting the garden up and running, but it can be crucial to the outcome of the garden.
Get an old jar or container and scoop up some soil from the proposed garden area. Take the sample to a soil conservation office and have it analyzed to determine what is in the soil. Various nutrients are essential for good plant growth. With this sample you can determine what may be needed to enhance the properties of the soil and as you till the ground; fertilizer, or whatever nutrients desired, can be tilled and mixed with the soil.
This will keep you from planting and working hard on your garden with limited or negative results.
4. Forgetting About Security
Security of your garden should be taken under consideration. Many neglect this important consideration, but a person does not know what roams through the yard at night looking for a free meal. If you wait until the plants start to appear, it could be too late. It does not take long for a predator to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
An enclosure, such as a simple chicken wire fence to an elaborate picket fence, will work wonders for keeping your plants safe from pests and hungry animals.
5. Planting the Wrong Stuff the Wrong Way
You can’t just decide you love palm trees and start planting. When choosing plants for your garden, seed packets will sometimes disclose whether the plant in question will do well in your climate. This is important because all plants have certain requirements for thriving and producing flowers, buds, fruits, or vegetables.
Also, follow planting instructions on your seed packets. Some may need to be planted deeper than others, to be spaced apart to allow for growth, and to be supported when growing. Something as simple as planting the seeds too deep can have a huge effect on the growth of a plant, if it even comes up at all.
6. Neglecting Proper Maintenance
Once everything is planted you need to take proper care of the garden. As previously mentioned, different plants need to be cared for in different ways. Simple watering and pruning may work for some, but it may not be enough for other flowers or greens. Some require that they be thinned out to give plenty of room for growth. Plants have different needs to reach their full potential.
Additionally, nasty weeds need to be eliminated so that they don’t infect your desired plants. This is a constant battle with any garden; weeds can take over and choke out the healthiest of plants. Chemicals are available to help with weeds but the fewer chemicals on your vegetables the better. Mulching is a good way to naturally help control weeds, but in most cases, physically removing them is the best way to protect those precious plants. This goes back to the beginning when planning the garden, too large of a garden can easily get out of control, and efforts for your first garden have been taken over by weeds.