Excited about your garden, but things aren’t going as well as you initially hoped? It might be because you’re making these crucial mistakes.
Not preparing the beds
Most of us have made this mistake, some out of ignorance, and others due to sheer laziness. When the little seeds and seedling go into the damp earth in spring, it seems the tiny planting holes we make with our fingers or a small hand shovel are room enough for them. But the soil soon dries out and becomes rock hard. If the roots of the young plants cannot penetrate into the soil, you’ll end up with stunted plants.
Digging and double digging the garden beds and adding in plenty of compost and leaf mold makes the soil loose enough for good root run. And this backbreaking work has to be done before you plant things. Making raised beds is another option if you don’t want to dig deep.
Overwatering is like killing with too much love. Most over enthusiastic gardeners are guilty of this crime. Frequent watering may be necessary until seedlings and cuttings get established. But once they have developed a good root system, water them at regular intervals. The roots of most plants hate sitting in water. Like every other plant tissue, roots need to breathe. They literally drown if all the air pockets in the soil are filled with water all the time. Even when the top soil looks dry, the lower layers could be soaking wet.
Frequently watered plants remain tender, and wilt very easily in the sun. When the interval between subsequent watering is gradually increased, plants toughen up and learn to be survivors. However, too much water stress can decrease the yield of some vegetables.
Leaving out soil amendment
We tend to forget that soil is like a living organism, always changing and evolving. Soil conditions can fluctuate with the amount of rainfall, soil runoff and lack of drainage. Some plants deplete certain soil nutrients more than the others. Heavy rains can leach away the limestone you recently added to raise the pH of your broccoli bed. It pays to check the soil for pH level and mineral profile every growing season and make necessary amendments a few weeks before planting time. Then test again to make sure things are perfect for the plants that are getting ready to go in.
Organic matter has a modulating effect on soil chemistry, so the more humus your soil has, the lesser the chemical fluctuations. Add plenty of compost and cured manure to your vegetable beds. Good soil is particularly important for your veggies garden since you need healthy plants that produce high-quality food.
Planting out of season
It is hard to believe seasons have such a hold on plants. Many of us probably have planted seeds or cuttings at the wrong time of the year and watch them put out a bit of growth in the beginning and then quit. Seasons are not much of an issue in tropical areas as long as the young plants are given plenty of water. But it is quite another story up north.
Planting out tender seedling too early in spring leaves them at the mercy of late frosts. Delay a bit, and you may miss the chance to get vigorous growth and yield before the rising temperatures play spoilsport. Cool season veggies and summer flowers have to be planted at their respective times.
Beware of end-of-season bargain offers by mail-order companies. By the time the order reaches you, it might be too late to plant them. Some seeds are viable for only a short period, so preserving them for the next season may not be a good idea. Follow the gardening calendar of your area and listen to the advice of local gardeners for best results.
Planting sun lovers in shade
We all know plants have this unique ability to make food in their leaves with just sunlight, water and air. But sometimes we plant a tomato variety guaranteed to be a prolific bearer close to a tree. We may be overjoyed at the luxurious growth, only to be disappointed by the low yield. The poor plant was making a lot of leaves to maximize food production, but it just wasn’t enough.
There are some woodland plants that have evolved to survive in shady spots, but if you plant sun-loving plants there, they just will not thrive. Tomatoes and most other veggies do best in areas where they can get uninterrupted sun throughout the day. If you mainly have a shady garden, you cannot hope to grow a lot of vegetables other than some greens. Clear out an area for your vegetable patch.