If there’s one thing that all experienced gardeners know, it is that they are not really the boss of their plants. No matter how hard you work, how expensive or fancy your tools are, or how dependable the climate; there is still a hundred things that can go work with growing. And, while this kind of makes it sound like an undesirable hobby, most gardeners will also tell you that it is the main reason why they love it.
The most important lesson to learn, particularly when growing vegetables, is that skill is only half the battle. It takes a huge amount of patience, commitment, and acceptance. Most amateur growers find their first attempts to be hugely frustrating and only those with a steely determination grit their teeth, stick with it, and end up with a bumper crop of veggies. So, do you still think that you’re up for the challenge?
This guide to the most common vegetable gardening faux pas will help you avoid some of the pitfalls that appear in the first year.
Not Readying the Soil
It is very common for inexperienced gardeners to just stick seeds in the soil and hope that they grow. After all, this is what we’re taught to do as youngsters. Unfortunately, there is a little more to it than that. To give seeds the best possible start, you need to dig and double dig the earth, before covering it with plenty of compost and leaf mould. It can be tiring, exhausting work, but the plants will grow stunted and small without it.
A Lack of Moisture
To grow vegetables successfully, you need the right irrigation supplies. This can mean different things for different people, however, so think carefully about how you’re most comfortable watering your garden. Be wary of shallow watering; this occurs when gardeners only lightly cover the tops of veggies with moisture and don’t give water the chance to seep into the soil and reach the roots. The result is smaller, weaker plants that don’t have the proper root structure to support themselves.
Far Too Much Moisture
On the other hand, overwatering can be just as damaging. It is, in effect, like killing a vegetable garden with too much affection. The roots of plants don’t respond well to sitting in pools of moisture; they need plenty of room to breathe and grow, so they drown after a time. The trick to keeping them alive and strong is cutting down on the frequency of watering as they get older. While seedlings benefit from lots of water, older plants are actually encouraged to learn how to survive if you’re not constantly showering them.
Planting Sun Worshippers in Shade
Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, corn, and squash all prefer to grow in direct, uninterrupted sunlight. Therefore, if you plant them in shady areas, you’ll likely find that they still grow tall, but produce significantly less food. This is because they’ll invest more energy on the production of leaves. So, if you want a high yield, it is really important that you do your research and position plant species in the right conditions. For instance, carrots, radishes, beets, and other root veggies do need sun, but can thrive in partially shaded spots.
Scaring Away Pollinating Insects
If you want to become the owner of an abundant vegetable garden, you’ve got to get comfortable with bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. What you can’t do is douse your plants in pesticides and then wonder why nothing grows; you may see insects as pests, but they play an essential part in the lifecycle of a garden. Just be careful when spraying insecticide products, because they don’t discriminate between the useful and irritant pests. You may be scaring away the good guys as well.