A vegetable garden is something that plenty of homeowners aspire to. However, achieving a beautiful spot that’s full of fresh veggies is easier said than done. In fact, there’s a lot to learn – and most people make plenty of mistakes along the way. But, when it comes to a vegetable garden, the rewards are almost always worth the extra effort.
Read on to see 8 beginner mistakes to avoid when starting your vegetable garden, and ensure your veggies have good start to the season.
1. Starting Too Big
While you probably have some grand ambitions for your vegetable garden, it’s a better idea to start small and build from there. Planting too large of can lead to a ton of work for a first-time vegetable gardener, which in turn can lead to frustration and burnout. Instead, start with a few of your favorite veggies and as practice enhances your skills, you can increase the size of your garden every season.
2. Not Planning For Light Requirements
Some of the vegetables you’re planting will need full sun, while others will thrive in partial shade. It’s important to plan your garden before planting your vegetables so that you’re able to give full-sun spots to those with the strongest sunlight requirements. This will help them to grow properly and better process soil and water nutrients.
3. Over (or Under) Fertilization
Your vegetables will need fertilization in order to grow, but it’s important to do some research before you actually fertilize your garden. Too much, too little, or the wrong type of fertilizer can actually prevent your veggies from growing. For example, leafy green vegetables, like cabbage and lettuce do will with a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen. On the other hand, that same amount of nitrogen can delay the development of root vegetables, like potatoes.
4. Over (or Under) Watering
While all of your plants need water in order to grow, different types of veggies have different watering requirements. Too much water can rot the root system, while not enough can result in your plants drying up and wilting. In general, most vegetable plants require a good, deep watering one to three times per week to ensure that the roots are receiving some of the moisture.
5. Ignoring Planting Requirements
Your seed packets should offer information on the back about how deeply to plant your seeds – these tips should not be ignored! Planting too deeply means seeds will be unable to sprout, or be unable to reach the surface to receive much-needed sunlight. Conversely, planting your seeds too shallow can cause the seed to dry out quickly, or fall over due to poor root growth. Generally the larger the seed, the deeper it prefers to be planted.
6. Planting Bulbs Upside Down
Know which end is which before you plant your seeds! Onions, garlic, and other bulbs have a root growing end, and a stem-growing end. Planting the wrong end up can cause delayed growth and other complications, resulting in a weak plant that is unlikely to thrive. With most vegetables, the top of the bulb comes to more of a point than the bottom, so be sure to take a look before giving each seed a permanent home in your garden.
7. Planting Too Closely
It’s only natural to be excited when starting your first vegetable garden, and want to get as much delicious fresh veggies into your space. However, if you plant your seeds and bulbs too closely, you’ll be creating competition for nutrients in water, soil and sunlight. Pay attention to the instructions on your seed package regarding plant spacing. While your seeds seem small at first, eventually they’ll be thriving vegetables!
8. Using Too Much Mulch
Too much of a good thing is still too much – and while mulching can help to retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from sprouting, too much can prevent seed sprouts from pushing through to reach the sunlight. Using a light mulch after planting is perfectly fine – in fact, it’ll help your garden – just be sure not to overuse it so that your vegetables are able to thrive.
Planting your own vegetable garden and being able to eat the home-grown versions of some of your favorite veggies can be incredibly rewarding, but it's also a lot of hard work. Minimize frustration by avoiding the these 8 common beginner mistakes.