Isolation has brought out the inner gardener in many people so it’s important for all new gardeners to avoid common mistakes when starting a vegetable garden.
The first mistake is to start out too big too soon. Planting out a large area with lots of plants can take a toll on time to maintain it. A better strategy is to start small and build on success with a few of your favourite seasonal veggies and a feeling of accomplishment.
Mistake number two is to not prepare the soil properly. Winter is not the best time to start a veggie garden but plenty of work can be done to get the soil in good tilth for spring plantings. Soil preparation should be done before any planting, so dig in plenty of compost and manure to get plants off to a great start.
The third mistake is locating the veggie patch in an area that does not receive enough light. Most vegetables require at least four to six hours of direct sunlight a day.
Mistake number four is to over-fertilise. Think of fertilisers like treats, a little every now then is OK but too much will lead to problems. High nitrogen fertilisers cause lots of leaf growth, not good for root crops such as potatoes, carrots, turnips, garlic and the like.
Number five is over- or under-watering. Too little and plants will wilt, shrivel and die; too much and roots will rot leading to poor growth and death.
Mistake number six is planting seeds too deep or too shallow. Shallow planting leaves germinating seedlings prone to drying out. Planted too deep and the seed will fail to germinate or not be able to break the surface in search of light.
Number seven is planting too close and not thinning out seedlings. Plants need space to grow so thinning as plants grow is critical to good harvests. Check seed packs for correct spacing distances.
Polarity of bulbs is another common mistake; when planting garlic be sure that the pointy end is facing up.
Number nine is letting weeds grow too large. Remember one year seeding, seven years weeding. Pull weeds while they are small “threads” to avoid future problems.
Mistake number 10 is over-mulching. Mulch lightly for newly planted seedlings and increase the depth of mulch as plants grow to reduce weeds and retain moisture.
Ever gardener will make mistakes, but lessons learned make a good gardener.