When just starting out a veg garden, you will make a lot of mistakes, don’t worry, it’s a natural part of gardening.
As someone commented on one of my posts, gardening is a process of a lot of trial and error.
This article is here to help you avoid some of the more common mistakes people make when just starting out. So with no further ado, let’s get stuck in.
1. Planting Crops You Dont Like
This is the number one mistake new growers make, and some experienced ones still do too!
I must admit that I made this mistake when starting out.
I grew courgettes (zucchinis for any Americans out there), and no one in my family likes them at all.
And if you have ever grown courgettes before, you will know they are incredibly productive. Before we knew it, we were drowning in courgettes that no one wanted to eat.
One of the best ways to stay interested in veg growing is to grow crops you love, crops that get you excited about harvesting them.
Don’t feel pressured into growing something just because every one else does or because so and so told you it’s a good plant to start with.
If your not excited about eating what you grow, then you are going to lose interest fast.
2. Giving Up Too Soon
I see people make this mistake all the time, particularly at the allotment.
They start with all the enthusiasm in the world, make great progress and then give up. It’s really sad to see.
The simple truth is that a lot of the work you put in at first, you won’t really notice until your second year.
The longer you do it, the easier it gets.
It’s easy to get disheartened when crops fail, or weeds start coming back that you thought you’d cleared. But over time, these jobs get easier and easier.
3. Starting Seeds Too Early
I still do this all the time. I get excited and carried away as soon as Christmas is over, and I get the itch to start planting.
But often, it is a lot better to wait. Unless you have the room to grow indoors and keep planting your seedlings on then all this effort will be wasted.
The plants you started too early will either grow leggy (thin and tall) and be poor producers, or they will die as soon as you plant them out.
Often with gardening, patience is a virtue.
4. Planting Out Too Early
Knowing when is the right time to move seedlings outside is something I think you only learn with experience.
This means you are bound to move some out too early and some too late. particularly as a new gardener.
The best thing you can do is move plants out gradually, starting with just a few hours at a time.
This process is called hardening off, and it helps plants acclimatise to colder conditions.
You will still get caught out by a late frost every once in a while though, it’s just one of those things that happens to gardeners.
5. Planting Too Much
Everyone makes this mistake at first, the more the merrier right?
When it comes to growing veg, this is often wrong. Many crops don’t like being overcrowded and will produce really poor harvests when they are planted too close together.
Thats on top of the fact that closely planted crops often attract pests, which you don’t notice because of how close they are planted and also fungal diseases love crowded spots.
So space your plants out, particularly at first, and give them room to grow.
It’s easy to get carried away and overwater your crops thinking you are doing the right thing.
Knowing how much to water is something you get better with over time.
Some tips are ensuring plants have water but are not sitting in water. Scrape away the top layer of soil with your hand to check if it is wet underneath.
Often the surface may look dry but underneath there is plenty of moisture and you don’t need to water just yet.
7. Not Planning
Planning your veg garden makes it much more productive, but it isn’t easy to do correctly, especially as a new grower.
It’s not something I am particularly good at still, and tend to go by gut rather than a solid plan.
This seems to work okay for me, but a well-planned vegetable garden is much easier to manage.
So if you are struggling, then maybe plan out some crops you want to grow and then figure out where everything is going to go.
This can help you form a list of jobs you need to do, keeping you on track.
8. Not Watering Enough
Just as overwatering is easy to do, so is underwatering. Watering is an ongoing juggling act.
The first signs of underwatering are drooping and wilting like the tomato above.
These can also be signs of pests and diseases, so if you water and the plant doesn’t get better, then there might be something more sinister at play.
9. Not Properly Weeding
Weeding can feel like a never-ending job, particularly at first.
But do it right, and the problem will reduce over time.
One easy way is to smother weeds and kill them off rather than pulling them all up.
I do this by laying down layer upon layer of cardboard before covering it with compost to create new beds.
Some people like to lay down a plastic sheet over an area and leave it for a year to kill off everything underneath.
These are essentially the basic principles of no-dig gardening (no-till in America), something I am a big fan of.
Find out how I went about starting my new allotment plot here, using these methods.
10. Letting Pests Take Over
Pests can quickly take over a veg patch when not addressed.
Keep an eye out for signs of pests. Unhealthy-looking plants are your first sign, and then learn what to do about it.
There is so much information online that it can get overwhelming so I like to do it on a plant-by-plant basis when I notice a problem.
I find this is a great way to learn about the different pests without getting overwhelmed. Yes, you will lose crops this way, but I think it is a better way to grow as a gardener.
And that completes this list, I hope you found it helpful.
If there is anything else you would like to learn or if you have some tips of your own then let me know in the comments below!