Mary Ann's Blog

The Top Ten Mistakes First Time Gardeners Make

So you want to plant a vegetable garden and can’t wait to get started? You envision the end result of healthy, abundant vegetables not only on your dinner table but also as giveaways to your neighbor - not so fast. Like any project, a lot of thought and research will really make the experience rewarding, but you're courting disaster if you don't know what you're doing.

For instance, do you know what plant-growing zone you live in? That will determine what will grow in your area. Reading gardening books will help too, or you can go online to learn about vegetable gardening. I have had a vegetable garden for close to 20 years and have made all the mistakes in this book, and I hope by reading this, you can learn from my experience!

1. No Plan
Any garden large or small should have a plan drawn to scale. This can be done on a simple lined sheet of paper.

2. Wrong Location
A good vegetable garden needs at least 6 hours and preferably 8 to 10 hours of direct sunlight per day.

3. Poor Soils
Do not plant in a place where there is poor soil. Soil should be soft, compressible loam. This is roughly equal parts of an organic matter and soil. If you have clay soil, sand should be added to break up the clay since plant roots would not grow in it. Sandy soil needs organic matter added to retain water in the soil.

4. Choosing Wrong Type of Vegetables to Plant
Pick vegetables that are easy to grow, such as radishes, lettuce, cucumbers, string bean, zucchini, winter squash, and tomatoes.

5. Planting Too Early in The Spring
Weather starts to warm up, days become longer, and birds are singing and we have the urge to plant. Planting too early subjects tender plants to frost and delays germination of seeds. For optimal plant growth, soil temperature has to be 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Wait for your soil to warm up.

6. Planting Too Close
Vegetables need space to grow and mature. Head lettuce should be planted a minimum of 9 inches apart. Tomato plants a minimum of two feet. Cucumbers a minimum of 2 feet. Beans, radishes and beets should be planted 1- inch apart and then thinned; radishes to 3 inches and beets and bean plants to 4-6 inches.

7. Not Using Mulch to Control Weeds
Weed control is critically important. Using newspapers, straw, or 1.2 mil black plastic, if judiciously placed, will control weeds and maintain soil moisture and make gardening a more pleasant experience.

8. Not Fertilizing Properly
Preparing the soil with a multipurpose fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 is an initial essential step. Soil tests will give exact needs for nutrients in your particular garden plot. At the time of transplant and during growth phases, a dilute liquid fertilizer solution will improve plant vigor growth and disease resistance.

9. Not Using Enough or Too Much Water
A reliable, close at hand source of water such as a garden hose or sprinkler is critical. A garden needs an average of 2 to 4 inches of water per week. However, be careful because too much water will damage the roots and encourage disease growth, particularly fungal diseases on tomato plants and vine crops.

10. Not Being Vigilant Enough in Detecting Plant Diseases And Insects
Watch the garden for any sign of insect damage. Use organic insecticides such as plant-derived pyrethrins sparingly for insects. Insects may also be hand picked off such as the tomato hornworm. Beware of fungal diseases on vine crops and tomatoes. Organic copper sulfate type fungicide applied periodically will help prevent this.

 

 

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