Our last article detailed four common mistakes new (and sometimes seasoned) gardeners make: 1. Unwise watering; 2. Failing to test your soil; 3. Planting garden ‘divas’; and 4. Planting too much. Read below to learn of 3 more rookie mistakes we often make.
5. Insisting on Growing Everything from Seed.
Some crops, like salad greens, radishes, carrots, peas, beans and squash, are easy to grow from seeds that germinate in a couple of weeks. However, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes are better grown from seedlings, which someone else (like your friendly garden center) has nurtured for weeks, or has brought in from a trusted grower that has started these plants in ideal conditions during the late winter months. This gives these plants a huge head start that you could likely never achieve otherwise. When picking plants, pick those that are short and compact, and avoid leggy plants even if they have blooms, because they are liable to die as the plant acclimates to your garden.
6. Assuming You Know Enough
Gardeners often read the information on the seed packages and assume that’s all they need to know about growing vegetables. Not true. The more you know about your soil, the hardiness zone you are in (most of Long Island is in zone 7A), weather, insects, etc., the better your garden will grow. So curl up with a good gardening book, surf the web for garden bloggers who share your interests, or join a gardening club where you can share tips (and even seeds).
7. Relying on Pesticides
Don’t bring out the big guns until you’ve tried less toxic ways of getting rid of garden pests. Pesticides contaminate our waterways. Ladybugs and praying mantis, which can be purchased over the internet, will eat garden intruders, like aphids and beetles. And non-toxic insecticidal soaps will take care of soft-bodied insects (mealybugs, aphids, thrips, etc.) but don’t use if using ladybugs for insect control.
Everyone is a rookie when they start gardening for the first time. The key is not to remain a rookie!