Is your vegetable garden not going as well as you would like it to? Or at a loss why your garden was not successful this year? You flipped through the gardening books, and even followed the planting directions. But, still not the garden harvest you expected? Check out these 7 common mistakes gardeners make that could be harming your garden and keeping you from a successful harvest.
1. Inconsistent Watering Overwatering and underwatering, for sure, can kill a plant. To avoid overwatering or underwatering, know what your plant needs. Cucumbers need more water than peppers. You'll see; look at your garden on a hot day. Which plants look thirsty with drooping leaves? The best gardening tip, though, is to water consistently and deeply. This gets a little tricky if rains a lot and then there is a dry spell. But, you can do your part in maintaining consistent water to your plants. Some gardeners use soaker hoses or small, simple irrigation systems for a raised bed with a timer. It makes sense; you can't get more consistent than that.
A common gardening problem from inconsistent watering is blossom end rot. Have you seen this on your peppers? Make sure you water consistently!
2. Overfertilization The more you fertilize, the better the garden grows, right? Uh, no! There is such a thing as using too much fertilizer. First off, know what NPK numbers mean. Check out this NPK Explanation! If you overfertilize, chances are you are using too much nitrogen. Nitrogen is a great component of fertilizer and is great when used in moderation to set the growth of plants. But, too much nitrogen and the plant will grow too quickly, spending its energy and nutrients to produce growth not fruit. Overall, too much nitrogen ends up weakening the plant, making it susceptible to plant diseases. Consider using all purpose organic fertilizers or fertilizers low in nitrogen! Also, proper use of compost can even eliminate the need to use fertilizer.
3. Compacted soil One of the keys to a healthy plant is a healthy root system. Compacted soil does not let roots penetrate the soil to develop properly, and a poor root system will interfere with nutrient absorption and ultimately kill the plant. Also, compacted soil isn't going to drain properly. Without proper soil drainage, it's similar to overwatering. So, your garden won't stand a chance. To overcome compacted soil, add compost! If you don't have a tiller or your soil is too compacted to amend, try raised bed gardening. That will be easier and save you money in the end.
4. Bad plant location A plant would look good there. That's what you thought? Well, take in consideration that a plant typically needs 6-8 hours of full sunlight to grow. If you have a shady spot near your house or in your garden, look for shade tolerant plants. Also, remember that plants in the garden can shade out other plants as they grow larger. Make a note of which plants grew bigger than you expected, so you can plan for them next growing season.
5. Not enough organic material Healthy soil equals healthy plants. Soil rich in organic material is healthy soil. So, how do you get this soil rich in organic matter? It's easy; just use finished compost in your garden. Compost is rich in organic material. It will help with soil drainage, buffer root systems from soil pH, and provide a constant source of nutrients in the soil.
6. Not using mulch Mulch isn't about just preventing weeds, which, by the way, is a major perk! Mulch, also, helps regulate the soil moisture level. Think about it, the sun is beating down on the garden; the moisture easily evaporates from the soil, and away from the roots of your plants. Also, mulch prevents dirt from splashing up on the leaves of the plants, which can lead to exposure of plant diseases from the soil. Try using straw or even a thick layer of compost as mulch.
7. Not looking for signs of garden pests Seems like a petty mistake. But, a mistake it is. Walk through your garden to look for garden pests. Don't just run into the garden, and snag your harvest. Look at the overall health of plants, and underneath the leaves for bugs. Most garden pests, if caught early, can be treated organically. You just have to be on top of it, and catch it in the beginning. You’ll see signs of pest damage before they kill your garden. For example, catch the slugs before they eat all your strawberries. Look for shiny slug trails or holes in leaves. Then, just set out a slug trap, or a pie pan of beer. Don't use salt to get rid of slugs, though! Your plants hate salt as much as snails do. Make sure that you avoid these mistakes listed above, and you'll have a much better chance at a green, healthy, pest free garden.
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