This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

what is the #1 mistake that new gardeners make?

I was asked a question the other day by a blogger. "What is the #1 mistake that new gardeners make?" My answer:

Mistakes are how you learn!! The #1 mistake is not having tried gardening earlier because of worrying about making a mistake!

That said, I have found that the most important things in getting a large harvest are making sure you have (1) regular irrigation, (2) appropriate soil, and (3) at least 4 hours of midday sun. Also think about growing what you like to eat and including a variety of plants.

The most important thing in enjoying gardening is to just get into the soil and don’t worry about failure. Enjoy the feel of the soil, the sunlight, the opportunity for hard work, the beauty of the plants. See how things work out and then ask others, read, and learn about what you want to do next year.
I assume the blogger will post lots of answers from different gardens. I will see if I can get a link to share.

What do you think is the #1 mistake that new gardeners make?


Blogger Mike Davis said...

Re full sun: generally, yes, but I have friends who don't garden at all because they don't have really FULL sun, so they think they simply can't grow any food plants at all. Lots of things can be done with only partial sun, and I think it would be good if you were to discuss that possibility. Love your blog!

December 23, 2014 10:31 PM

Blogger kathy said...

You are SO right! I shouldn't have listed full sun as a requirement.

My last vegetable garden was shady. It seems I've forgotten it already. I think at least 4 hours of sunlight is good. Beans, peas, cucumbers, herbs, broccoli and kale did great for me with 4 hours of midday sun (11 am - 3 pm). Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, lettuce and summer squash were OK for me with a bit more, maybe 5-6 hours of midday sun. You need full sun for crops like beets, carrots, corn, winter squash, pumpkins, onions and garlic.

And then, in midsummer, I think full sun can be too much for crops like lettuce. My cucumbers also prefer a bit of shade.

Here's a link to a chapter in Niki Jabbour's new book about my old shady backyard garden: Turning a shady backyard into an urban food garden

December 25, 2014 2:12 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I went ahead and removed "full sun" from my post. Thanks again.

December 25, 2014 2:24 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I am thinking more about this questions. I am the manager at our community gardens with 137 plots on 2 acres of land. We see a lot of new gardeners.

Maybe the biggest thing I see is they underestimate the time it takes to maintain a garden. Its not just a spring project. There is summer and fall harvesting and winter clean up, seed organizing, reading, learning and planning.

Lots of first time gardeners peter out and leave tomatoes rotting on the vine, weeds overtaking the garlic. But, they have a great spring and enjoy the outdoors, exercise, and digging in the dirt. You can't do everything right the first time. And, over time, many/most(?) newbies get into the swing of it.

December 26, 2014 3:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

a mistake I made was planting things too close together [or not thinning well], as well as not amending soil after initially "setting up" the garden!

December 26, 2014 5:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plant certain plants too early and others too late in the season for optimal harvest?


December 30, 2014 12:48 PM

Anonymous Sar said...

Yeah I have to agree with anonymous - my biggest early mistakes have always been overcrowding. A good resource to help new gardeners learn how to space plants is the Square Foot Gardening books.

January 03, 2015 10:14 AM

Blogger kathy said...

I still overcrowd - every season. This year i am going to try very hard not to.....

January 03, 2015 2:52 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I am re-adding this comment by "anon" since there was so much blank space after it.

Anonymous said...

Gardening goes by the season. Sometimes you can "push" the timing but you usually need to start things before the warm weather arrives.

January 03, 2015 2:54 PM

Anonymous Wendy Perez said...

Starting too big. New gardeners underestimate how much you can grow in a 100 square foot garden.

January 10, 2015 7:16 PM

Blogger Robert Leavitt said...

I crowded myself last season big time, but this season I plan to give myself more room to work the plants, and give them less competition for nutrients by spreading them out more!

January 27, 2015 10:48 PM


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