Here are 5+ garden mistakes that I am very glad I made as I learned a lot from them. Learn what they are so you can avoid making them, too.
When I first put our raised garden beds in, I kind of knew what I was doing but also I didn’t. However, I just went for it figuring that I would make some mistakes along the way that would teach me something valuable.
You see, I believe that we inevitably make mistakes but what we learn from them can be so powerful. I also don’t want to let fear of failure make me paralyzed. None of the garden mistakes I made were fatal or irreversible.
That is to say that I can and will correct them. On the other hand, I thought you might like to find out what mistakes I made – so that you don’t necessarily have to!
Garden Mistake Nr. 1 – not enough weed barriers in our raised garden bed
It took us a while to identify the best, that is the sunniest, spot for our garden beds. When we put them in, I put down cardboard as a weed barrier. I seriously thought that one layer would be enough. However, about 9 months later, I saw weeds coming up in the garden beds.
If I had to do it again and to avoid this garden mistake, I would put down more layers of cardboard and makes sure there are no cracks. I would not put down a black mesh weed barrier since we like to grow carrots and they need to go down.
Garden Mistake Nr. 2 – wrong soil
Wrong soil is maybe too strong of a word. But hear me out: our local landscaping store had several soil types for sale. One of them was labeled ‘popular veggie blend’. So I thought, how perfect, just what we need. My husband got 3 cubic yards in his truck which ended up being more than what we needed but it’s nice to have extra.
The issue with this soil is that water tends to sit on top rather than soak in.
The remedy for this garden mistake is to add compost and peat moss to it. With that, it will retain water better.
Garden Mistake Nr. 3 – not putting in drip irrigation
In the beginning, I thought that I could and would easily hand-water my veggies and other plants. To this day, I like that because I can look at all the plants and see what they need. While it is a bit of a chore (that sometimes I wish I didn’t have), there is another reason I wish I had drip irrigation: California is going through a drought and our county has imposed watering restrictions. We can only water before 9 am and after 7 pm.
For now, I will just get up early enough and water by hand. Soon, though, we will put in drip irrigation. Not only does it save time, it also saves water.
However, I am not too upset with this garden mistake. Especially if you have a “challenging garden” like ours with a lot of mature trees and shade, you may not choose the best spot for various plants right away. Sometimes you have to start somewhere and improve from there.
Garden Mistake Nr. 4 – not utilizing free resources
There are some really good resources in California. If you live there, you should definitely check out the UC Master Gardener Program. That is such an amazing free resource. They have a lot of advice on their website where they offer county-specific help. Even better, they will come out to your garden and do an audit. Also, I like the list of plants that tend to grow particularly well in our microclimate.
I encourage you to check out if your state has resources like that. Many universities and colleges offer gardening help, too.
Garden Mistake Nr. 5 – observe where the sun goes throughout the year
When I planted some berry bushes, I had a few thoughts regarding their location: for one, I thought that they would be a bit more shade-tolerant. As I was observing their future location it looked like they would get enough sun. In the summer, though, the sun travels higher and those berry bushes get less sun than in the spring. So while I was observing where the sun goes, I didn’t take into consideration that that might change throughout the year.
As a result, I will relocate those berry bushes to another, better, sunnier spot.
Other common garden mistakes:
While it’s easy to under-water, you can also over-water. You could literally drown your plants with this garden mistake. I recommend checking for both on a regular basis. If you water by hand, you will be much more in tune with what’s going on. If you have sprinklers or drip irrigation it is a very good idea to regularly monitor your plants to see whether they get enough or too much water.
Not enough weeding: we don’t use herbicides and toxic chemicals in our all-organic garden. That means that I had to pull weeds by hand. This is regular maintenance. I actually enjoy it. Usually, I block a chunk of time and weed a portion of our garden. Then another day, I do another portion. It’s always best to stay on top of the weeds the best you can!
No deer fence: we have a lot of deer roaming our area. While we did put up a fence around the front of the garden, we did not completely fence in the side that is right next to our neighbor’s driveway. For once, I thought the deer wouldn’t necessarily notice that. Also, putting a fence up on that side is a bit more involved. So that is definitely on our list since the deer have done quite some damage in our garden in the past.
Not keeping other critters out: that could really be any being that wants to share your garden with you. I am thinking of slugs, ants, aphids, and such. Some of those critters you can keep out with a mesh barrier that you simply put over your plants. Recently, I put the garden hose on high and sprayed aphids on my kale which is a very effective method. For some other critters, you could use an essential oil blend that you apply.