10 Common Mistakes New Gardeners Make
Planting a garden or flower bed might seem daunting when you are a new gardener. Committing the time and muscle is easy. But, if you arm yourself with knowledge and avoid some of the pitfalls of new gardeners, your efforts will be richly rewarded!
Most new gardeners think that more water is better when usually, just the opposite is true. Take the time to learn the water needs of your plant and count to ten before turning on the hose. If you are watering anything daily -- you are probably watering too much.
Once again, more is not always better. Find out the nutrient needs of your plants and the differences in various kinds and levels of fertilizer. If you feed your tomatoes nothing but fish emulsion you will have big, green plants but, alas, no tomatoes. Feed your roses lots of nitrogen-rich fertilizer and you will have lots of lovely rose leaves. But, nary a rose.
Growing Non-Native Species
It is almost impossible to grow rhubarb in Texas, cactus outdoors in North Dakota, cranberries in Arizona or Vidalia onions in Michigan. Since the plant has to grow where it is planted, you dramatically improve its chances (and yours!) by growing what is native to your area. Checking with a local nursery or supplier, using a seed catalog company from your region, and talking to other local gardeners can save you lots of heartache and backaches.
Do You Know Your Zone?
June might be the peak of gardening season in New York, but not in southern California. If you have moved recently, what you planted in May in Illinois isn't the time to plant in Florida. Neighborhood gardeners, your county extension, local nurseries and garden clubs are always a good source of information.
Beware Of Overly Invasive Plants
Often plants are listed in catalogs as: Readily reseeding. Vigorous. Spreads easily. Extremely hardy. Sounds great, right? Proceed with caution! These terms often mean the plant can become invasive and spread well beyond your intended area. Catalogs are wonderful resources for finding special plants, but sometimes they can go too far with their colorful descriptions, implying that a plant is carefree or practically perfect in every way.
New gardeners would do well to avoid the I-just-gotta-have-it syndrome. Purchasing plants that require a growing environment that you cannot possibly provide is not only costly but frustrating. Think of going to a nursery like going to the grocery store. Make sure you have a list and stick to the list!
Kill All Bugs
Those new to gardening often feel that 'the only good bug is a dead bug.' Not true! A healthy garden will always have a population of insect life that is both positive and negative. The key is balance. Remember, the garden isn't your house, it is theirs and most of the insects in the flower bed and vegetable garden are good guys. They may nibble on the occasional leaf or bud, but they more than earn their keep by eating up the villains and providing pollination services. Less than five percent of the various beetles, spiders, worms and caterpillars are true pests so 'nuking' the garden with pesticides often does far more harm than good.
Pay close attention to the planting instructions that come with your seeds or seedlings. It's tempting to overcrowd for instant gratification, but you won't do your plants any favors. Plants need room to breathe and good air circulation. They also need light to reach them and planting too densely blocks their ability to reach their full potential. Overcrowding stresses plants and makes them more prone to disease.
Whether by hook, crook or hand those weeds have to come out! Getting them before they go to seed can make a world of difference. You can do much to limit the problem by using mulches or ground covers, but there is no free lunch. All gardens need some maintenance.
Not Preparing New Beds Properly
Piling dirt on top of your lawn or new flower beds will not kill weeds. They will thrive and flourish in the rich new soil. Be diligent in pulling and digging the area and amend the soil. The time spent building a good weed-free basebefore planting will make the future tending of the bed much easier and satisfying.