My Four Biggest Gardening Mistakes

| 7/30/2013 4:36:00 PM

leaf lettuceGardening is probably one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding things I’ve ever done. Although I have grown herbs and vegetables for nearly all of my life, it was only in the past two years that I’ve grown a truly substantial garden. Even though I’m always working to make my garden perfect, like most things, there is definitely a learning curve with gardening. In two years, I have made countless mistakes on my garden. Fortunately, I have gained knowledge from these faults to improve my future gardens!

• Weeding an area, but not planting or mulching immediately afterwards: Weeding is certainly a waste of time if steps are not taken to prevent them from growing back. Many undesirable plants can be prevented from reappearing by placing a few layers of newspaper down and covering them with a mulch of your choice. This will block weeds from coming up for at least a month and make it much easier to remove them in the future.

• Letting weeds go to seed: Once weeds have gone to seed, it becomes increasingly more difficult to control them. A single plant can produce hundreds, or even thousands, of seeds, multiplying the weed problem. Also, the additional time to grow allows their roots to grow stronger and deeper, making them much more difficult to remove in the long run.

Now, if I’m too occupied to thoroughly weed an area, I use a weed whacker to shorten the plants nearly to the ground and burn them with propane flame torch. This kills the plants allowing them to compost into the ground. If you cannot ‘flame’ your weeds, weed whacking will at least prevent the plants from going to seed for a week or so while also making it easier to remove them. If your weeds have already gone to seed, do not weed whack these plants, as this will only distribute the seeds, encouraging more growth.weed flamer

• Not using a garden planner: Last year was the first time we had a substantial garden. We carefully mapped out what varieties we planted and the location we planted them in. This spring, we didn’t bother to map out our garden; even after planting. What a big mistake! At planting time, I believed different varieties of beans would be easy to identify. Apparently not! A few months after planting, the plants were bushes about 1½ feet tall, nearly identical except for the subtle differences in the beans. It was a struggle, even to identify the dry beans from the bush beans. Certainly, we don’t know which varieties have done the best or are the tastiest for the purpose of planning next years garden.

• Starting out too large: The garden I started last year was by far the largest garden I’ve ever had. It took a week of hard work just to dig up the soil into mounds and a few more days to lay down newspaper and straw and plant seeds. Even now, I find its size overwhelming. Although I have always dreamed of having a beautiful large garden, its upkeep is a struggle. Weeding alone takes many hours a week just to prevent crabgrass from completely consuming the garden beds. I now wish that I had established my garden at a much smaller scale, only expanding when necessary.

10/30/2017 9:44:30 PM

Once had 60by120foot garden. Covered with 8inches of straw. Made holes to plant seeds and plants. As they grew I tucked straw in around them no watering,no weeds. Xmas that year went out and dug down through 2feet of snow and dug up root crops for Xmas supper.

8/21/2016 8:21:45 PM

@rabrophy, I've read all of the most popular square-foot gardening books, & they are great for urban yuppie gardens, but try planting 248 tomato plants, 8-10 dozen cabbage plants (wide rows), a quarter acre of sweet corn, 6 wide rows of beets, 8 wide rows of snap & Lima beans, etc. that we plant for canning & freezing to feed the family all year with a square-foot or s.i.p. method system and they become not only neolithic, but monolithic! For large amounts of produce for preserving, I've found wide row planting, compostable mulching, & minimizing foot paths to be much less costly & cumbersome than s.i.p. & square foot methods. Less watering, weeding, & upkeep is needed. I'll stack my grandmother's garden (and mine) up to yours any time... Dick Raymond's 'joy of gardening' is still my go to book.

8/19/2016 10:08:22 AM

Digging up your backyard and trying to plant a garden is so Neolithic! Forget about it! go to google and you tube and look up "Square Foot Gardening" and " sub irrigation planters" and you will find a new way of gardening that is much easier and more productive and sustainable. I have been using these methods and teaching them to new gardeners with wonderful success. Remember: If your garden looks like Grandma's - Your doing it all wrong!

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