Starting your own garden is an exciting activity that leads to the most precious thing in the world- eating your own organic food. However, you must understand that this activity is something that will require your full attention and responsibility. There will be disappointments, but there will be plenty of joy as well. Once you set your goal, you can start. Before you do so, check whether your vegetable garden needs some improvements due to the most common mistakes:
1. Starting out without a plan
We get that starting your own garden is overwhelming and you want it done as soon as possible, so you can eat your food. But let’s calm down and make a plan. Start small, step by step.
Don’t grow veggies that you don’t even like, because, trust me, soon you will lose interest for them and they might fail. Don’t ever start without a previous plan. What you need, what kind of different crops you are going to use, test the soil and amend it, start the seeds earlier, install cold protection, windbreaks etc. If you start without checking all of these, there is a huge possibility your garden will fail. It is very important that you are aware of your limits, time and space you have or you can provide for your garden.
2. Selecting unsuitable varieties
Be creative. Don’t just take the “catalog shopping” and list all veggies and chose by picture. Doing this, might be a big mistake. Even if there is a slightest chance that you exaggerate the positives, the variety or cultivar turns might still be unsuitable for your climate and conditions for growing. Exotic is fun and eye-catching, yet these vegetables are not really worth your effort and time.
Always be open to experimenting new varieties that look promising, of course, as long they are good for your USDA Zone. There are centers in your area that always carry varieties that grow best in your climate.
3. Choosing the wrong spot
Choosing the right spot is also a very important step. Vegetables are demanding so you need to decide whether they need sun or some shade. For most of them , plenty of sun is required. For instance, root vegetables need 406 hours of full sunshine and partial shade for the remaining period. If your garden gets only a little light, leafy vegetables are the best option for you.
Your garden should be located far away from trees. Trees provide shade, but their roots will also compete for water and nutrients with your vegetables, so trees around your garden are not a good option. If the ground is filled with roots or rocks or compacted soil, then raised beds are a good option for you. Another thing is that veggies don’t do well in areas like the slope of a hill because they will get a lot of wind there and this might trouble them.
4. Not preparing the soil
One extremely important step is soil preparation. If you don’t do this your vegetables won’t get the nutrients they need. Most veggies don’t like acidic or alkaline soil. Poor soil is a bad option too. You should test the pH of the soil and the mineral content. Also, sandy and clay soils won’t provide the sufficient nutrients for the vegetables. Both of these can be neutralized by adding plenty of organic matter.
Ample moisture in the soil is essential for a great vegetable garden, but the soil must have drainage. You can always add some extra water. In low-lying areas, increase drainage by digging a dry stream bed in order to redirect the water.
5. Planting at the wrong time
You will mostly plant in spring, however there are some veggies that depend on their cold hardiness. Low-loving veggies like tomatoes might fail to take off if you plant them before the weather is warm enough. Lettuce for example, should be started inside because they will become bitter or perish if it is too warm .
It is best, if you follow the planting schedule in your area, and you can usually find in the garden centers in your area.
6. Underwatering and overwatering
This is a mistake a lot of people deal with. Vegetables need water, plenty of it actually. Water is important for transporting of nutrients, manufacture of food through photosynthesis and distribution to all parts of the plant. However, if you do it too frequent, your plants will die. It will affect yield and it will make your plants susceptible to illnesses. Don’t overwater your plant if you won’t be home for a couple of days. This is not the way to do it. Instead, ask your neighbor to water it for you.
Now, while some people regret because they overwatered their plants, some are having issues with underwatering. This can result in poor yield, it can kill plants with root, probably of the poor drainage. If there is more moisture in the soil it can create high humidity in the air and invite all fungal diseases as well. Deep watering is better than frequent shallow watering.
7. Allowing weeds to thrive
Weeds take the nutrients and water your veggies need. Because of their fast growth rates they can crowd your plants in a very fast period. You should do a thorough weeding before you start the planting process.
It is important to stay out of herbicides as well. After all, the main benefits of having a garden is eating your toxin-free food.
Vegetables look small, and this may trick you to plant them too close. Close planting leads to overcrowding and your plants will compete for nutrients. Eventually poor air circulation will lead to new diseases.
There is a recommended planting distance and you should follow it. Raised beds can take closer planting, but the rule of thumb is that the leaves should only nearly touch when the plants reach their maximum size.
9. Fertilizing mistakes
Vegetables are plants that store food in some part or other and we grow them as vegetables, because they have to make a lot of food in a short time and store them in their fruit, stem, bulbs or tubers. Carbon dioxide, water and sunlight are extremely important for making food, but nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are required in large amounts as well.
If you overfertilize your plants, you might trigger a problem. For example, soils rich in nitrogen promote excessive growth. Gardeners might disappoint when they don’t see any tomatoes when expected. High amounts of minerals in the soil affects the absorption of others. For those who are new to vegetable gardening, the best thing to do is to use lots of good quality compost and slow release organic fertilizers like bone meal and fish meal in their vegetable patches. They usually provide almost all the nutrients required for plant growth and help balance pH and promote the growth of beneficial soil microbes.
10. Not attending to pests and diseases in time
You need to get rid of affected plants and take appropriate measures as soon as you see some pests or diseases having fun with your veggies. Viral and bacterial diseases can be a problem too.
Aphids, mealybugs, and other sap-sucking pests stunt plant growth. You need to keep their populations down by using some organic and biological control measures. If your soil has root nematodes your crops will not be successful. It is impossible to eliminate them completely, but there are some measures to control them and keep them low.
Even if you follow everything as instructed, your garden can be unpredictable at times. Depletion of soil nutrients can be a reason, but you can solve this by adding more organic matter. Another threat are pests and diseases, that you cannot control. You can only change the crops in order to reduce the risk of these getting carried on to next growing season.
What do you think ? Did any of you recognize yourself making any of these mistakes, or maybe a couple of them ? How did you manage to solve the problem ?
Please share your thoughts and comments.