I’m all about offering tips and tricks to set you up for success in your garden, and sometimes that means letting you know the garden mistakes to avoid in your own kitchen gardens. How do I know these are mistakes? Well, most of them I learned first hand in a moment of failure! I’m passing that info along to you so you don’t have to learn the hard way – just take my advice!

Garden Mistakes – Planning

Mistake 1 – Not having a goal

Starting your garden without having a goal, or perhaps having too lofty of a goal if you are a garden beginner, is one of the classic garden mistakes. Look, I’m a “go big or go home” kinda girl, but if you’re gonna go big, you have to know how much of a time commitment that can be. Set your goals and intentions to make sure they align with your time, budget, space, and lifestyle.

Mistake 2 – Not sticking to your plan

You aren’t being picky about what you plant. I get the excitement when you step into a greenhouse and see all the possibilities – it’s tempting to get a wide selection of plants to try out new varieties. I’m right there with you, a fellow garden maximalist right here! It’s hard not to go on a plant shopping spree, but I know I need to reflect on my goals and intentions if I want my garden to succeed, and that doesn’t mean jam-packing it full of random veggie varieties. Instead, purchase what you planned on: produce you know your family will eat (and maybe a few new-to-you plants to experiment with). One of the biggest disappointments in the garden is when we get overwhelmed with everything we planted and end up wasting a season on vegetable we didn’t enjoy or properly grow.

Mistake 3 – Relying on your memory

Guys. Document, document, document. We think we’re going to remember where we planted bulbs last year, but we’re not. And when you realize you’ve forgotten just about everything you did last garden season, you’ll be so relieved that you wrote it all down to reflect on!

If you’re struggling with planning out a garden, setting goals, or keeping track of all your garden notes, grab a copy of my garden guidebook. This book guides you through a full year of gardening and has built-in tools and exercises that will ensure you are setting yourself up for a successful gardening season. And I have an e-copy available too, for you techies out there! 

More Garden Mistakes

Mistake 4 – Over-planting vs. Interplanting

Pairing plant varieties together is a great idea; in my kitchen garden, I love to mix in herbs, flowered and veggies all in the same raised bed. Think about creating your own little ecosystem in your garden, which will make it easy for all those pollinators and benefits from nature to lend your garden a hand. 

However, you can’t overcrowd your plants. I’m not a stickler for “plant spacing guidelines,” but you do need to remember to take into consideration the varying heights and widths of your plants so everything has adequate space to grow. 

Mistake 5 – Failing to grow with the seasons

Your garden shouldn’t just be full of one-hit wonders; it should really be giving for as long as your seasons will allow.  The key is to make sure you are planting vegetable varieties in each season, and succession planting throughout the year. Once the first crops have been harvested, amend your soil and re-plant for another round.  Here in Wisconsin, I plant for cool season in spring and fall, and I succession plant many other varieties throughout the season, and I can harvest fresh from my garden more months out of the year than not. Find your garden zone and then research what a feasible year-long planting schedule might look like in your area.

Mistake 6 – Lacking confidence

If you have the mindset that you’re a “black thumb” when you go into the garden, you are mentally setting yourself up for failure. And the thing is, you might fail in the garden, even over and over again, but that doesn’t mean you are a “black thumb.” I have made so many garden mistakes! Which is what makes me confident in saying that the only way to truly learn how to garden is to dig in and keep trying. Each gardener’s ecosystem is a little different – it’s even different from your next door neighbor’s depending on your soil! – and so it’s gonna take a little practice to learn what works best for your garden. Brace yourself because being a gardener means being a life-long learner!

Mistake 7 – Watering 

It’s tied 50-50 on the number of clients I see struggling with overwatering and underwatering. If you’re new to gardening, you might not have an instinct for how much water a plant needs, so here are some good rules of thumb:

  • The soil should be wet several inches down after you’re done watering. 
  • Use your finger to test the soil. If your finger comes out dry, your garden could likely use some water. If there are bits of damp soil clinging to your finger, and/or the soil feels wet, hold off on watering.
  • Over and underwatering are both detrimental and often display similar signs, making it even more difficult to get to the root of the problem. You can read more in-depth directions for watering here.

While my blog is always here to help you along the way on your gardening journey, remember that my guidebook can be a handy personal tool to help you avoid common garden mistakes. If you take advantage of the resources inside, I can guarantee you will be setting yourself up for garden success in the future. 

Happy gardening!

Photo of a gardener digging bare hand into dirt to show the moisture content in the soil. Overwatering and underwatering are common garden mistakes.