Here’s 5 beginner gardener mistakes. I made them all! Avoid them for a great start to the growing season.
Beginner Gardener Mistake 1: Buying Too Many Plants or Seeds
There is nothing quite like walking into a greenhouse! It’s warm, brightly lit, and filled with more plants than you could ever dream of! And such variety! Before I started gardening, I had no idea there were so many types of tomatoes or peppers. I had no idea some cucumbers were better for pickling than others. I honestly just had no idea how many types and varieties of veggies, fruits, and flowers there were!
My first year of gardening I bought way too many plants. Way too many. Way more than I could actually take care of. And way more than I had space for. Again, way too many.
I had so many hopes and dreams for my first little garden, and it was hard to narrow down the selection of beautiful plants. Especially once I was surrounded by such beautiful plants!
How to Avoid this Beginner Gardener Mistake: go to the greenhouse with a list. Survey your garden area and decide what your needs are. Draw a rough plan of your garden with what you’d like to plant and where. Make a list of what you’d like to plant, then go shopping.
In my small town, we are fortunate enough to have a local family-owned greenhouse. The owners and their employees are a wealth of knowledge about gardening and each variety of plants. Every spring I always show up with lots of questions, and they also get our garden off to a great start with their advice and tips for growing.
Our local high school even has a greenhouse. Students have the opportunity to learn how to start seeds and grow a variety of plants. The money earned from plant sales, goes back into the program. I love this opportunity for local students and happily support it.
When looking for plants and seeds for your garden check out local stores and even high schools.
This is one of those beginner gardener mistakes I keep making. It’s so hard to say no to beautiful plants and the opportunity to grow them! Ask me how we ended up with a cactus after our first trip to the high school greenhouse this season…
Even with your list, just know there will probably be something extra that catches your eye! Give yourself some wiggle room so you can add a couple of plants you didn’t quite plan for. Or perhaps just plan on stopping by the lumber store on your way home to pick up lumber for building more raised beds!
Beginner Gardener Mistake 2: Not Knowing Your Growing Zone
Different plants grow better in different areas. Depending on where you live, some plants may really thrive while others don’t stand a chance.
It’s important to know your growing zone or hardiness zone for this reason. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on plants that won’t do well in your garden.
If you buy your plants and seeds from a local greenhouse, chances are they sell things that will grow well in your area.
If you buy plants or seeds from a magazine, they typically list the hardiness zones for each plant and seeds. This is very helpful.
How to Avoid this Beginner Gardener Mistake: Know your zone. Know your zone before buying plants or seeds. You can find your hardiness zone in the Farmer’s Almanac, most seed catalogs, or here.
Beginner Gardener Mistake 3: Planting Too Close
Seeds are tiny! Some are really tiny! Plants from the greenhouse are tiny too. When planting, don’t think about the size of the seed or young plant. Think about the size of the full grown plant. You can fit a lot of seeds in a very small area, but that is not true of full grown plants.
You want to make sure your plants have plenty of room to grow and spread out. If planted too close they could choke each other out, and they won’t produce as much. If the plants are too close they may not be able to circulate air around themselves. This is especially important after rain and getting watered. If they stay too wet, the extra moisture could produce blight which would be very detrimental to your garden.
Beginner gardener mistakes like this one can cost you time and energy. The time and energy it takes thinning out your plants could be spent elsewhere.
How to Avoid this Beginner Gardener Mistake: Know how much space mature plants need. Your garden may seem sparse and empty at the beginning of the growing season, but it will fill up quickly as your plants grow and mature. Once you see how large the mature plants are, you’ll be glad you gave them all a little extra space.
If you have planted things too closely, you can easily thin them out. Pull up the extra plants and replant elsewhere or discard. Sometimes you can grow more with less plants, because you are able to better care for fewer plants.
Beginner Gardener Mistake 4: Not Knowing Your Soil
Soil provides nutrients to your growing plants. So knowing your soil will help you better care for it. Different soils are rich in some nutrients and lacking in others. Growing the same things in the same spot, year after year, can really deplete the nutrients in the soil.
How to Avoid this Beginner Gardener Mistake: Take a soil sample to your local extension agent. They will be able to help you better understand how to improve your soil.
If you are filling raised beds ask an employee at your local garden supply store to help you pick the right mixture or soil. Getting great soil right from the start will help you avoid this beginner gardener mistake.
Beginner Gardener Mistake 5: Not Knowing When, Where, or How Much to Water
All plants need water to grow and thrive. But there is a right and wrong way to water. Who knew? It is best to water in the cool of the day. It made sense to me to water during the heat of the day. It’s hot. I’m hot. The plants are probably hot too! However, watering your plants when the sun is beating down on them is not a great idea. If water droplets get on the leaves or produce of the plants the sun can burn them up.
Kids love water hoses! Kids love spraying anything they can with the water hose! I try to encourage my kids to help in the garden. But blasting delicate plants with a water hose ruined a plant or two. If your kids are eager to help with the watering, they may need a little guidance.
How to Avoid this Beginner Gardener Mistake: Set a timer. Set a timer or a reminder on your phone to help you remember to water consistently. There is only so much information my brain can remember each day, and watering the plants doesn’t always make the list. So I always appreciate a helpful reminder.
This year we are also going to try to use soaker hoses. This will eliminate too much water on the plants. It will also allow the roots to soak up more moisture from the water soaked into the soil.
When the kids are excited to help with the watering, encourage them to gently water the base of the plants. I have a few other tips that may help you if you’re gardening with kids this season.
Learn From My Mistakes and Avoid These Beginner Gardener Mistakes.
What Are Some Mistakes You’ve Learned From?
Let me know in the comments!
I love love love all your wonderful advice!
I have definitely made all of the mistakes listed! My biggest mistake was buying ALL of the seeds and overwhelming myself!
Great post, it’s very informative!
I always succumb to mistake number one! (Even though I’ve been gardening for years) I have my own greenhouse now, though, so it keeps things a little more budget-friendly. This is real good advice.
I have made every single one of these mistakes hahaha Also, I always make mistake #1. Every single time. I just love plants too much! I can’t help it! Thanks for the great solutions you’ve come up with.
Very good advice! 4 years in and I still buy wwwaaayy to many seeds than I can handle. It’s just so hard sometimes to say no!
I can definitely relate to these mistakes, and I think I keep repeating them over and over. Thank you for the reminder – and setting a timer on my phone for watering is so simple that I don’t know why I didn’t think of it!
Setting a timer for watering has definitely saved many plants around here! ha!
Great tips! I Especially #3. Every year, I seem to plant my tomatoes way too close together and my peppers too far apart. I feel like I’m learning new things every year with gardening! Thanks for sharing!
Yes to planting too close. Haha! That is so easy to do, especially when you don’t know how big to expect them to grow.
I can definitely relate to planting the seeds too close and not consistently watering my plants. Thank you for your advice! I’m on my third year gardening so I still have PLENTY to learn.
Such practical tips! A mistake I’ve made is not thinning out the plants because I hate the thought of wasting any. ha.
Great tips!!we’ve made so many of them!