Don’t Make These Gardening Mistakes

After 2 years of gardening, I have learned some pretty big lessons.  Our first garden we put it all in buckets, and only got tomatoes…everything else was traumatized too much from hail damage…or poor nutrients  Our second year we did the garden, this year, have made TONS of mistakes, we tried square foot gardening, which was mostly a success.  Although we had hail damage again, it was later in the season so our garden was able to jump back.  Here are the mistakes our family has learned with gardening to help you minimize your frustrations, and keep on gardening.

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10 Gardening Mistakes

1.  Did not research how the produce grows

Honestly, kind of naive now, we planted 12 different veggies and only 3 of those were the same as the year prior.  When some of my stuff started to grow, I had no clue what it did and ended up loosing a lot of my herbs and other stuff.

For example:  I didn’t know what to expect with Cilantro and ruined it.  It let it grow too long and with a major heat spike, it sprouted up and turned into coriander.  I should have been clipping no more than 1/4th of the plant to harvest it before the heat spike.

Another example:  We planted 2 stocks of corn.  Then, we were told that your need a lot of corn to pollinate each other.  So, we planted 4 more.  Apparently corn needs lots more plants to pollinate each other.  Each time a corn plant “touches” the tassels of the growing corn, it allows a corn kernel to grow.  Needless to say, our corn grew, but died with not enough nutrients to really see if we were getting any kernels or not.

2. Did not research the best time for harvesting

Another gardening mistake we made, was when it came time to harvest, most of the time I was too late, or too early.  I was not sure what the best time was and ended up wasting some plants.  Be sure to research what the prime picking time is to get the best results.

For example:  Spinach, you want to keep picking leaves off so it keeps producing more, something I did not know, and my few of the leaves ended up dying before I had a chance to use them.  

Another example:  How long should a squash be before you pick it?  Or Cucumbers, I picked ours early and it had too many hard crunchy seeds.  Some I picked too late, and those were bitter.

3.  Threw away the “bad produce”

Remember #1, how my cilantro turned into coriander?  Well, I had no clue how to use it, so I just pulled out the “wasted cilantro/coriander  plant” and gave it to the chickens… Come to find out, Coriander still holds a cilantro flavor.  I could have dried it out and still put the plant to use.  Be sure to use what you can from the plant to make your time, money and energy worthwhile.

4.  Not follow the seed package instructions

Are you seeing a pattern with all of my gardening mistakes?  They include not researching about what type of produce I am planting.  On the back of the seed package, it tells you when the best time to plant was.  If the package says a “cold weather plant”  plant in the cold weather.  I thought it was “cold enough” even though it wasn’t the suggested planting time and I tried to plant spinach. But as soon as it got hot, it dried up and I got nothing from it.  I should have just waited till the fall and planted something else that would be more useful of my soil area.

5.  Did not up my cages a head of time

If you are planning on growing plants that need support such as tomatoes; or plants that need to climb such as cucumbers, and melons, you’ll want to set those cages up ahead of time.  We did not… It was harder than we thought to “re-direct” the vines to climb up what we wanted to.  We also broke many tomato branches trying to fit it into a cage.

Be sure to have tomato cages, and other items set up for your plants to crawl up BEFORE you plant, or RIGHT AFTER you plant.  It will save you time and frustration, trust me.

6. Not watering consistently

I got in the bad habit of watering too much (causing my leaves to turn yellow), then not watering  for a few days to make up for it.  Or, we would get some good rain for 3 days, and then I would just plain forget to water them when it got hot again.  Our plants did not grow consistently and ended up rotting.  Once getting on a consistent watering schedule, the whole garden jumped to life and we couldn’t keep up with the produce.  

It was amazing seeing the difference a consistent watering schedule could do to a garden.

7. Not having a plan to USE your veggies.

Like mentioned above… once on a consistent watering schedule, we had veggies coming out our ears!  My plan to make zucchini bread with the zucchini was not enough with how much we were getting.  I had loaves frozen in the freezer and still wasn’t sure what to do with the rest.  

Be sure to have a list of recipes lined up to try with all your produce; freezer bags and space ready, or canning supplies ready and in stock.  You can also ask around ahead of time to see if any friends and family might want your extras.  You can even take it to church or community activities with a box labeled “Free”.

8. Don’t plant produce you won’t use.

Don’t plant produce you won’t use.  This past year I planted rosemary, basil, and lavender.  I thought I was going to use it, and had good intentions… but honestly had no clue how to use it.  I gave it away or to the chickens.  

If you don’t use it now, why are you wanting to plant it?

9.  Not planning for vacations.

Most people go on vacations during the summer, which is prime growing and harvesting time.  It’s important to have a plan on who can come and take care of your garden, water it, and pick the produce.  

What are you going to do with all that produce when you get back from a week long vacation?  

These are some things to think about so you aren’t overwhelmed when getting back from a vacation and your garden has turned into a mess. 

10.  Picking weeds too early or too late.

Both can be a problem.  I didn’t want to get behind on weeding, so when every little thing came up and I KNEW I didn’t plant it there, I would pull it.  I ended up pulling many carrots, and even a whole rosemary plant out!  During the first few big watering, those seeds can float and plant themselves in another place were you didn’t originally plant them.  I found a carrot 1 ½ ft away from the initial planting spot!  

And, of course, picking weeds too late can be a big task, and those weeds can be taking many nutrients from your garden which need to go to your other plants.

In conclusion

As a beginning gardener, or even experienced gardener, we can all make some pretty big gardening mistakes.  the good news is, that we can learn from those and others mistakes to have a better gardening experience next time.  Read more about what we would do different with our garden next year.

What was your biggest gardening mistake? Comment below.

Further Reading:

Frugal Living 

How to get FREE Buckets

What we would do Different with Our Garden

As always, if you love what you read or have found it helpful, please PIN, share or comment below.

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Thanks for reading!
This post contains affiliate links.  Read my affiliate link disclosure here

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