You’ve wanted to start a garden for a while now, and you’ve finally decided this is the year you’re going to give it a try. But you’ve realized that gardening is a bit more challenging than you initially thought.
And if you’re anything like most first-time gardeners, you’re bound to make a few mistakes as you learn.
To help you, I pulled three of the most common gardening mistakes from doTERRA’s interview with Rick Lattin, a generational organic farmer from Nevada.
Mistake 1: Overcrowding
Overcrowding happens when there’s not enough space between your plants. A good rule to follow is to differentiate between upright growing plants and vining crops. When you’re working with a vining crop, you’ll want to leave three to five feet between plants in rows that are at least three or four feet apart.
For something like a tomato plant, you’ll usually want an area of two feet in each direction. Peppers can be closer together.
When you’re planting small seeds like beets, carrots or turnips, keep about two inches in each direction per plant.
Also, remember, many seed packages have spacing suggestions on them. You can also try a seed catalog or look online for placement information.
Another resource you can use is your state’s cooperative Extension Services—they have good gardening information and will know your local conditions.
Mistake 2: Over or Under Watering
As a good rule of thumb, avoid watering your plants in the middle of the day. Also, try to water at a consistent time everyday, and on a weekly basis, check your soil. Dig down a few inches and grab a small handful of soil. If you can squeeze water out of it, it’s too wet. If it crumbles and won’t stay together, then it’s too dry.
Keep in mind though that different plants at different stages require you to give them more or less water.
That said, my best advice would be to check your plants often, and make sure you’re checking the soil, too.
Mistake 3: What to Grow from Seeds and what from Transplants
Often plants that grow quickly and are good at sprouting should grow from seeds, while anything else can do well as a transplant, which is essentially a baby plant sold in a pot or a pack of four or six.
Plants best to grow from seeds: Most of the greens (lettuce, etc), carrots, beets, turnips, radishes and similar crops.
Plants best to grow from transplants: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Either or: Melons and squashes.
And here are a few other planting tips for your garden:
For many gardens, you want to incorporate fertilizer or compost into your soil. If you’re buying compost, put a covering of it over your soil and work it into the soil. You’ll want to make your compost covering about two inches deep before working it into the soil.
Compost can greatly improve the quality of your garden, but you can also plant cover crops between growing seasons to add nutrients to the soil.
These can be things like oats, alfalfa or garden peas and can be raked or plowed into the soil when a new growing season begins.
Another component to a successful garden is getting rid of pests. One of the keys to this is to keep the garden area clean and free from debris. You can also use essential oils to repel pests naturally.
Peppermint, Clove, Cedarwood, Geranium, Lemongrass, Rosemary, or Arborvitae are all essential oils that will do the trick.
Try putting 10 drops of any of these oils in a spray bottle with water (preferably when the weather is not very hot) and spray the areas of concern.
Are you a first-time gardener or a seasoned-pro? I love to hear about your gardening experiences and any tips you have for garden success in the comment below.