Each year as “Garden Season hits” – we start to get a flurry of emails from all over the US and beyond about issues in the garden. Without fail, a large majority of those issues each season always seem to center around the same topics – and can be traced back to 5 simple and common garden mistakes that we all seem to make from time to time. We thought for today – we would share those top 5 garden mistakes – and how to avoid them in your own garden this year!  

The 5 Biggest Garden Mistakes

#1 Never Rotating Plants

garden mistakes
Avoiding some common pitfalls in the vegetable garden can lead to a bigger harvest! photo credit: shuttestock/Imnoom

If you continue to plant the same plants in the same location in the same soil year after year – bad things are going to happen. Vegetable plants use up a tremendous amount of nutrients in the soil to grow strong and produce each season, and by moving them from year to year – you give the soil a chance to recover from the same plant taking out the same nutrients. Different plants have different needs from the soil, and by changing up their location, you give them a better chance to find what they need. 

Just as important – soil borne disease and pests that attack plants have a much greater chance of becoming an issue when the same plants are placed in the same location year after year. It allows them a better chance to become established and that will lead to all kinds of plant issues!

The Cure: Rotate your plants each season, trying to make sure that you let at least a few seasons go by before putting vegetables like tomatoes and peppers in the same location. In addition, be sure to add plenty of compost into your planting holes each year to revitalize the nutrients taken from the previous year’s planting. If you container garden – this means replacing the soil in those pots and buckets each year and starting with a fresh mix of soil and compost.  Last – don’t just throw out that old soil – put it your compost bin and let it recharge with your next batch!  See : The Garden Plan

#2 Failing To Thin 

This is a big one for a lot of gardeners!

Seed crops like carrots need to be thinned so they can reach their full size
Seed crops like carrots need to be thinned early so they have plenty of room to grow and mature.

When it comes to seeds crops like carrots, onions, radishes, beans and peas – one of the biggest mistakes gardener’s make is to never thin the young seedlings after they germinate. Thinning insure that the remaining plants have a place to grow and thrive. Without it – your plants don’t have a chance to reach their full size, and can end up growing together into a tangled, unusable an inedible mess.  Anyone that has failed to thin a crop of carrots knows exactly what I am talking about!

I think quite honestly it comes down to the fact that a lot of people simply feel awful about the act of pulling up perfectly good plants.  Trust me when I say in the long run – it’s worth it!  

#3 Over Fertilizing

“My plants are growing like crazy, full of leaves, and are a deep dark green in color, but I am getting zero veggies on them – what is wrong with them?!” Without fail, this is a question we get every single year – and it is almost always due to over fertilization. 

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If you have lots of dark green growth and zero veggies – over fertilization might be the problem.

Too much fertilizer will put all of your plant’s power in to producing plant and foliage growth – and nothing else! The fact is, if your soil is in good condition and you have used compost in the planting holes – very little if any fertilizer needs to be used at all.  We sometimes use a mixture of compost or manure tea to boost our young plants when they first go in the ground – and then let the soil’s natural nutrients take over.

If you do fertilize, keep it to a light mixture and only for the first month of the plant’s growth.   See : How To Make All Natural Compost Tea / Fertilizer

#4 Under / Over Watering

Many gardeners tend to hurt new plants by either drowning them with too much water, or starving them with too little. There are a couple of quick hints to make sure you are watering correctly. The biggest key : know your plant’s moisture requirements.

The general rule of thumb is that most plants need about one inch of water per week. It is typically better to water a little deeper every few days rather than to water a little every day. This allows your roots to search down further in the soil and build a stronger base. Get to know your plants and research what type of moisture that they require – and don’t feel the need to get that hose out every day!  See : Secrets To Watering Your Garden 

#5 Over Reacting To Bugs

There is truly a natural balance in nature – and it is never more apparent in the garden.

garden mistakes
It is more than okay to learn to live with a little plant damage her and there from insects – the cabbage head here is perfectly fine.

So many times, gardeners will notice a beetle or two, or see a leaf or veggie with a bite out of it – and immediately start spraying the whole garden! 

Just remember that when you begin to spray to kill off a few bugs – you are also killing all of the beneficial insects that are in your garden as well!

Many times, a few beetles here and there, or a couple of tomato worms on your plants can simply be picked off and disposed of without starting to upset the natural balance in the garden. It is more than okay to have a few holes here in there in plants! 

And yes, sometimes it gets bad enough that you may have to take a little actio – but you can use safer, more natural approaches like hot pepper, soap or garlic sprays to keep pest at bay.   See :  All Natural Bug Sprays

Be sure to check out our new book Growing Simple, now available at Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook versions. If you would like to receive our Recipes, DIY and Gardening articles each week, be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.  Here is to a great gardening season. Happy Gardening!  – Jim and Mary

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