You’re keen as a bean and itching to get something growing now, like right now. I totally get it. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and really, how hard can it be to grow something, right?

And truth be told, it’s not that hard but there are some things you need to know before throwing a handful of seed at a pot adding water, and praying to the gardening gods that something edible pops out of the soil. 

Here are the 5 biggest mistakes new growers make (that you don’t need to)

1. Wrong plant

I have seen too many innocent seedlings die needlessly. Just because your local big green shed sells a pretty looking plant doesn’t mean they are right for your area or even in season for that matter. 

When choosing what to grow you need to understand the following:

  • What season is it?  Choose a vegetable that will grow in that season. Planting out of season will almost certainly end in tears. You may get something but why put your heart and soul into producing very little when you can produce a lot?

    1. Wrong plant

    I have seen too many innocent seedlings die needlessly. Just because your local big green shed sells a pretty looking plant doesn’t mean they are right for your area or even in season for that matter. 

    When choosing what to grow you need to understand the following:

    • What season is it?  Choose a vegetable that will grow in that season. Planting out of season will almost certainly end in tears. You may get something but why put your heart and soul into producing very little when you can produce a lot?
    • What zone are you in? There are growing zones to help you identify what you can grow and when.  If you live in Cairns QLD then you won’t have much luck growing cold climate blueberries but if you live in Tasmania you will have your choice of blueberry varieties as these little flavourful mouth poppers prefer a colder climate. You can’t get some that will produce in warmer climates but your yield will be less. 

    • Where will they live? In Australia, the north-east is ideal for most plants as they are protected from strong and cold southerly winds and the hot western sun. If you have a shady spot that you want to plant up make sure you do some research for shade-tolerant plants. Most vegetables need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight every day. 

    2. Soil

    Having the right soil type for your vegetable goes a long way to getting great results. It makes sense. If you were fed just vitamins without eating a healthy nutritious diet you wouldn’t perform at your best. 

    Planting any plant in poor soil and then heaping on the fertilizer in the hope that the plant gets enough nutrition is the same thing. It may still grow but it won’t grow strong and vigorously. 

    Adding homemade compost is the best soil conditioner but you can also buy ready-made from your local nursery or garden center. If you are unsure which one to buy ask them. They will know the best one to buy. 

      3. Overcrowding Your Plants

      When you come home with a punnet of seedlings you’ll want to give all of them every chance to grow up to be big vegetables.  Now it is tempting to plant them all in a smaller space than recommended but this is a mistake. 

      When you put them in the ground or pot it will look there is a load of room for more but those cute little seedlings need all the room recommended to grow big.

      Overcrowding can cause a lack of sunlight reaching all the leaves, give a home to fungus problems, and create competition for food. If you have limited space to plant seedlings choose the strongest-looking seedlings and put the rest in the compost. If you plant seeds make sure you thin out to the strongest. I used to despise doing this, it felt wrong to take out a healthy plant but without doing this you will end up with a poor harvest. 

        3. Overcrowding Your Plants

        When you come home with a punnet of seedlings you’ll want to give all of them every chance to grow up to be big vegetables.  Now it is tempting to plant them all in a smaller space than recommended but this is a mistake. 

        When you put them in the ground or pot it will look there is a load of room for more but those cute little seedlings need all the room recommended to grow big.

        Overcrowding can cause a lack of sunlight reaching all the leaves, give a home to fungus problems, and create competition for food. If you have limited space to plant seedlings choose the strongest-looking seedlings and put the rest in the compost. If you plant seeds make sure you thin out to the strongest. I used to despise doing this, it felt wrong to take out a healthy plant but without doing this you will end up with a poor harvest. 

        4. Goldilocks Watering

        Not too much, not too little, just right…. The best way to tell if there is enough moisture for your vegetable garden is to do the finger dip. Stick your finger in the soil to the first knuckle, if the soil is dry it needs water, if it feels wet then it is overwatered. 

        The ideal is damp and moist not wet or dry. The best way to keep an even moisture level is to mulch. Pea straw, sugar cane, or shredded leaf mulch is great. 

        Another great tip is water slower for longer. This allows for the water to penetrate the soil well rather than just run off. 

          4. Goldilocks Watering

          Not too much, not too little, just right…. The best way to tell if there is enough moisture for your vegetable garden is to do the finger dip. Stick your finger in the soil to the first knuckle, if the soil is dry it needs water, if it feels wet then it is overwatered. 

          The ideal is damp and moist not wet or dry. The best way to keep an even moisture level is to mulch. Pea straw, sugar cane, or shredded leaf mulch is great. 

          Another great tip is water slower for longer. This allows for the water to penetrate the soil well rather than just run off. 

          5. Spending a Fortune When You Don’t Have To

          You don’t need all the gadgets to grow great vegetables. Use what you already have. A bucket can have some holes added for drainage, used food containers, milk or soft-drink bottles cut in half, anything that has drainage and is the right size for your purposes can be used. 

          If you are putting in a garden bed take a look at the no-dig options. You don’t have to buy fancy raised beds you can frame it up with anything you have. Old logs, building timbers, bricks, or even just leaving it au-naturel. There is maintenance with any garden bed so choose the best bed that suits your needs. 

          You can even start saving your own seeds. You get more plants for much less initial outlay and if you start seed saving (a blog on this to come) you will never spend money on growing those vegetables again.

            5. Spending a Fortune When You Don’t Have To

            You don’t need all the gadgets to grow great vegetables. Use what you already have. A bucket can have some holes added for drainage, used food containers, milk or soft-drink bottles cut in half, anything that has drainage and is the right size for your purposes can be used. 

            If you are putting in a garden bed take a look at the no-dig options. You don’t have to buy fancy raised beds you can frame it up with anything you have. Old logs, building timbers, bricks, or even just leaving it au-naturel. There is maintenance with any garden bed so choose the best bed that suits your needs. 

            You can even start saving your own seeds. You get more plants for much less initial outlay and if you start seed saving (a blog on this to come) you will never spend money on growing those vegetables again.

              Keeping chickens is so much easier than you think!

              Download my simple beginners 'chicklist' to get you started.

              Keeping chickens is so much easier than you think!

              Download my simple beginners 'chicklist' to get you started.

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