This time of year is when my garden has been active for months, and my worst gardening mistakes become evident. Every year I tell myself, "I'm going to do THIS next year, and things will turn out better!" And they usually do, though I reliably manage to make some utterly different mistake the next time around. I thought it might be helpful for beginning gardeners (and possibly entertaining for experienced gardeners) to compile some of the biggest mistakes I've made over the years.
Mistake #1: Not Doing the Research
My first gardens were in the Chicago suburbs. I never made any big mistakes there because it's really easy to grow things. My first big gardening mistakes came in Houston, where it's pretty easy to grow things too. If you don't start off making assumptions. I made a lot of assumptions.
It didn't occur to me to read the seed packets or Gulf Coast-specific gardening books during my first year of gardening in Houston. I just did exactly what I'd done in Chicago.
My First Year of Gardening Yielded Exactly Four Tomatoes.
I started reading up on tomatoes and did a little better the following year, though my cucumbers tasted awful. Like the tomatoes I'd planted too late, and the hot weather made them almost inedible. I can't emphasize enough the importance of reading up on plants and knowing your growing zone. Especially if you've moved cross-country or are gardening for the first time. Timing and varieties are so different from place to place.
Gardening is challenging for anyone, anywhere. Sometimes you have to make changes and adjust. Dennis revamped his entire garden and got great results. Read more about that here.
Mistake #2: Assuming the Critters Won't Get In
Another mistake I made in Houston was assuming that property boundaries were inviolate. We had a nice privacy fence and no pets, so I didn't plan for any kind of animal protection other than bird netting. I was pretty disappointed when neighborhood cats started using my garden as a litter box. Aside from the disgust factor, cat poop is also dangerous for pregnant women to handle due to some diseases they spread. And this was right in the middle of my childbearing years.
We got some plastic sheeting from Home Depot and wrapped it around posts at the corners of the garden. It was only about two feet high, so it was still easy for me to step over. But, the cats must have disliked the smell because that stopped them.
Daisy knows all about the critters getting in and eating your garden! She shares that and others stories in this article.