Photo of mint with a No sign over it becasue planting mint in the ground is a common gardening mistake

What Not to Do When Starting Your Garden: Avoid These 10 Common Gardening Mistakes

Starting your gardening journey can come with plenty of potential pitfalls. As a beginner, making these common mistakes can be frustrating and make you want give up altogether. 

Here’s the thing though, seasoned gardeners can fall into these exact same situations.  Everything from planting mint directly in the garden only for it to take over and choke out all of your hard work, to messing up plant spacing, not understanding microclimates, and and failing to plant seasonally for optimal growth. 

Thanks to the many trials and errors we’ve experienced ourselves, we’re here to help you get set up to have a thriving garden and avoid all the common beginner gardening mistakes.

Mistake No. 1: Planting mint in the ground

There’s nothing better than fresh mint, the aromatic leaves in your garden, right at your fingertips. That is, until it takes over your entire garden, and all your other plants get choked out. 

Mint, with its underground runners, will claim dominion over every inch of soil it touches. It seeks new territories, unrelenting and invasive. A single chocolate mint plant can invade an entire bed and persist despite your efforts to eradicate it year after year.  Ask us how we know!

Does this mean you’ll never be able to brew a cup of fresh mint tea?   Not at all.

The solution is actually quite simple. Mint thrives within the confines of containers which also curtail its conquest of taking over your garden.. This isn’t just a strategy; it’s a necessity for maintaining harmony in your garden. Confine mint to pots and watch it flourish without fear of an unwanted takeover. In doing so, you safeguard your garden’s diversity and prevent a mint monopoly.

Mistake No. 2 Spacing Plants Incorrectly

Many beginners, eager to start harvesting their dinner out of their back yard, often don’t think about plant spacing. They mistakenly crowd their plants, thinking it maximizes their garden space. Unfortunately, this strategy backfires

The plants that are now too close together begin to compete for light, nutrients, and water. You start to see stunted growth, and low yields, and the more fertilizer you give your plants, the worse it gets.  

Proper spacing is vital to make sure each plant receives everything it needs, so you can have  a healthy and productive garden. Organic gardening emphasizes the importance of this practice. It enhances air circulation, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Implementing thoughtful planning and spacing transforms your garden, making it both beautiful and bountiful. Remember, a well-spaced garden will reward you with robust growth and high-quality produce.

Mistake No. 3:  Not understanding how microclimates work

Microclimates might sound like a concept reserved for meteorologists, but they hold immense importance for you as a gardener. Every garden has its unique set of microclimates, influenced by factors such as sun exposure, wind patterns, and proximity to buildings or water bodies. Recognizing these subtle differences in your garden can significantly impact your success in planting and maximizing garden yield. For instance, a spot that receives full sun can support different plants than an area that’s shaded for part of the day.

Adjusting for microclimates allows for more effective garden planning and planting. It means you’ll select plants best suited to each area’s specific conditions, reducing the chances of stress and increasing plant health and productivity. This understanding will enable you to create a more resilient and thriving garden by aligning with nature rather than working against it. It’s a cornerstone of organic gardening since it emphasizes natural growth conditions and soil health, both of which are crucial for preventive plant care.

Mistake No. 4: Overusing chemical fertilizers

Many of us have been told by television, Facebook ads, and a number of gardening centers that reaching for chemical fertilizers is a quick fix for your garden. While their quest to boost garden productivity is noble, this choice was made without foreseeing all the future consequences. 

Over time, these substances have shown a darker side. They degrade soil health and diminish its fertility by disrupting the natural soil ecosystem. They also pose a risk to the beneficial organisms vital for organic gardening.

In contrast, using preventive plant care and natural nourishment creates sustainable cultivation that will only get better every year. By integrating organic matter into the soil, you create a living, breathing foundation that steadily releases nutrients. This method not only nurtures plants but also fortifies them against diseases and pests, doing away with the need for chemical agents. 

Mistake No. 5: Using synthetic pesticides

Synthetic pesticides have been a staple in gardening for decades, aimed at ensuring plant health by eliminating pests. Unfortunately, the harm they cause often outweighs their benefits. These chemicals not only target your unwanted pests but also affect beneficial organisms crucial for a balanced ecosystem. Beneficial insects, soil microbes, and even birds can suffer from exposure, leading to a reduction in biodiversity in your garden.

Natural pest control methods, on the other hand, offer a sustainable alternative. By focusing on preventive plant care, such as fostering a healthy soil environment and selecting disease-resistant plant varieties, you can minimize the likelihood of pest infestations. Introducing beneficial insects, utilizing organic gardening practices, and applying physical barriers offer effective, ecology-friendly solutions. These methods not only ensure the safety of your garden’s ecosystem but also contribute to its overall productivity and resilience against future pest challenges.

Mistake No. 6: Not using mulch

Mulching can seriously transform your gardening game. Nothing is more frustration than watching helplessly as weeds take over your garden while at the same time, the plants you actually want there look sad and thirsty. 

Using organic materials like straw or aged woodchips to cover your garden’s soil brings with it a host of benefits. First of all, it dramatically reduces your weed problems. Unwelcome weeds find it hard to penetrate a well-mulched garden bed. This means you’ll spend less time weeding and more time enjoying your garden. Secondly, mulch acts like a sponge, holding moisture in the soil. During hot spells or dry periods, this can be the lifeline your plants need to survive.

Finally, organic mulches, such as straw or aged wood chips, break down over time. This process adds vital nutrients back into the soil, enhancing its health. Thus, the practice of covering soil supports not only the current crop’s success but also prepares the ground for future planting seasons. 

Mistake No. 7: Not planting seasonally

You’ve heard it said: timing is everything. This adage holds true in the world of gardening as well. Planting the right plants at the right time is essential to have a flourishing garden. 

Many beginners overlook the nuance of seasonal planting, leading to disappointing yields or, worse, plant loss. Many eager gardener plant kale in the middle of the summer, only to meet with failure or plant tomatoes in the fall and never get a harvest. To be successful at growing your own veggies, you need to align gardening planning with nature’s calendar.

Seasonal planting is not merely a suggestion; it’s a critical strategy for gardening success. By understanding the optimal planting times, you ensure that your plants receive the best conditions for growth. Fall is a great time for root vegetables, while spring suits tender greens. Ignoring this could mean disaster as your plants struggle against natural elements. Maximizing your garden yield isn’t just about what you plant but when you plant.

Mistake No. 8: Choosing the wrong location

Choosing where to plant your garden plays a pivotal role in the overall success of your garden. Plants thrive under the right conditions; sunlight, soil health, and microclimates govern their well-being. Each type of plant demands a unique set of resources to flourish. Failure to match these needs with the appropriate setting can lead to stunted growth or, worse, plant death.

Soil typology significantly impacts how well your plants will fare. Nutrient-rich, well-draining soil bolsters plant health, opposing the challenges posed by too sandy or clay-heavy grounds. Understanding your garden’s soil type leads to better decisions regarding what to plant and where.

Sunlight, an equally crucial element, demands careful consideration. Most vegetable and flower species crave six to eight hours of daily sunshine. Planting in a location that fails to meet this requirement could result in lackluster blooms and poor yields. 

Mistake No. 9:  Not practicing disease prevention

Preventive plant care is essential if you want a disease-free garden. You must have heard the saying, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ This holds profoundly true when it comes to your garden. 

Embracing organic gardening principles leads to robust soil health, making your plants less susceptible to diseases that often plague the unprepared gardener. By choosing the right planting location, considering the microclimates in gardening, and understanding the seasonal gardening calendar, you fortify your garden’s defenses. 

Chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, while tempting, alter the garden’s balance, leaving it vulnerable. Instead, integrate planting seasons, focus on maximizing garden yield through soil health, and adopt seasonal gardening to strengthen your garden against invaders. 

Mistake No. 10: Overspending

Overspending is a common mistake beginner gardeners make. Spending too much money not only strains your wallet but can also dim the joy of growing your own food. A robust plan, focusing on soil health and seasonal gardening, is pivotal. It helps you allocate resources efficiently, ensuring your garden thrives without unnecessary expenditure.

Beginner gardening mistakes often stem from a lack of foresight. Container gardening, for example, can be a cost-effective way to start, especially when dealing with invasive species like mint. By steering clear of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, you not only foster organic gardening but also save money in the long run. Natural alternatives promote preventive plant care and bolster garden planning against pests and diseases. A well-thought-out approach, incorporating microclimates in gardening, maximizes garden yield, further optimizing your investment.

Remember, gardening for beginners should be about learning and enjoyment, not financial strain. 

It’s All About The Journey

Gardening is a journey worth embarking upon. It requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from the inevitable mistakes that accompany the process of growth, both for you and your plants. Many a seasoned gardener will tell you they’ve killed as many plants as they’ve successfully grown. But every gardening blunder, from overspending in gardening to misunderstanding the significance of microclimates in gardening, brings invaluable lessons that, over time, transform into wisdom.

So, as you begin your gardening journey, take heart. You are embarking on a path that will teach you more than just how to grow plants. It will teach you about growth itself – the kind that happens when you’re knee-deep in soil, battling yet another plant disease or planning your garden for the umpteenth time. Embrace each season, each setback, and each success because your persistence will bear fruit, quite literally. Happy Gardening!