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10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

As a new gardener, you’re bound to make mistakes; we all do. After helping people learn how to garden for several years, I’ve noticed some common mistakes. I compiled this list of 10 common new gardener mistakes in hopes you can avoid them as you begin your gardening journey.

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10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

1. Thinking you need everything before you begin

There isn’t only one right way to garden. Premade beds and watering grids are nice but not a necessity to get started. Use the resources you have available. You don’t have to have everything to get started. A container or two is a great beginning. Learn more about how to start a container garden in this blog post.

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

If resources are limited, consider growing in-ground rather than in beds. Although more labor-intensive, in-ground beds are a less expensive way to start a garden. Start by getting a soil test to see if that is a good choice for your garden. Learn more about how to start an in-ground garden here.

Sunken Garden Beds: Water-Wise Gardening in the Desert

2. New Gardener Mistake: Being overwhelmed by all there is to learn

As gardeners, we are always learning. It’s impossible to know it all before you begin. Don’t worry yet about more complicated skills like starting seeds indoors. Focus on learning about a few plants and build from there. Experience will be one of your best teachers.

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

3. Following advice for other climates

Local resources are crucial, especially for new gardeners. What and when to plant vary depending on where you live. What works in other areas may not work in your climate. Each climate has benefits and challenges. The key is maximizing your area’s advantages and understanding and adapting to the challenges.

Ask local gardeners for help and find local resources. (Extension Office, local nurseries, even Instagram). If you live in the low desert of Arizona, I have planting resources available. If you live in other areas, this blog post can help you find resources for your climate


Vegetable, Herb, and Fruit Planting Guide for the Low Desert of Arizona

Low Desert Vegetable Herb & Fruit Planting Guide

The ultimate resource for gardeners in arid regions with hot summers and mild winters—designed specifically for the low desert of Arizona.
It features information on how and when to start seeds indoors and when to transplant them outside for nearly 100 different fruits, vegetables, and herbs.


4. Not taking the time to understand the light patterns on your property

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

The decision of where to put your garden is an important one. Sunlight is one of the most critical factors in determining the location of your garden. Because the sun’s angle changes throughout the year, take time to observe the sun’s patterns all year long. 

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

Using an app like Sun Seeker will help you understand the light patterns on your property. Use containers or grow bags for the first year to get an idea of which locations in your yard receive morning sunlight throughout the year and how much each area gets. 


5. Not learning about the crops before you grow them

Begin with a vegetable, herb, and flower. Learn the key facts about each one – how they grow, whether to plant from seed or transplant, how much space they need, and when to harvest them. You’ll feel much more prepared, and chances are, you will have more success. 

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

My website has over 100 “how to grow” articles for different crops. If you’re looking for easier crops, this blog post about ten easy-to-grow vegetables and herbs may be helpful. 

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

New Gardener Mistakes (cont.)



6. Watering mistakes

Many new gardeners overwater their gardens. It’s easy to do. However, overwatering wastes a valuable (and expensive) resource and harms plants. Learning how much to water can be tricky, but the best way to learn is by observation. Water deeply, then monitor your plants and soil, and don’t water again until the top inch or so of soil is dry. Read this post to learn more about watering principles. 

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

7. Not supporting crops that need it 

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

Many crops grow best with a trellis. Growing plants vertically helps many plants be healthier and produce more. Trellis can be free or inexpensive, but adding them when you plant is essential. 

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

8. New Gardener Mistake: Over-fertilizing 

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

Like overwatering, adding fertilizer to the soil helps us feel we are doing something good for our plants. But that may not be true. Too much fertilizer can produce excess green leaves instead of fruit and cause an unhealthy buildup of nutrients in the soil. Instead, focus on feeding the soil by adding regular compost and vermicomposting bins to your beds. The soil will then feed your plants. 

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

9. Not harvesting and eating what you grow

Grow things you like to eat! Learn the best time to harvest and enjoy the farm-to-table, locally sourced, homegrown food!

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

10. Not spending time in your garden every day

If you spend a little time each day, garden tasks won’t overwhelm you. You will catch problems when they are small and easily managed. Learn more about what to do each day in your garden in this blog post.

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

10 New Gardener Mistakes: What To Do Instead

As you begin this gardening journey, take heart. We have all killed plants or had them killed for us by bugs and diseases. You will too, and it’s okay! That’s part of the process and how we learn. Enjoy your successes and learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to start a garden today! 

10 New Gardener Mistakes Infographic

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