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8 Common Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

NZLS Garden Diary

1. Do you really need to spray?

If the garden has really got away on you during the winter time you need to make a decision. To spray or not to spray?

There are products available such as ‘Wet and Forget Hitman’ a natural organic spray that will take care of most small weeds but struggles on the bigger stuff. Glyphosate based products are highly effective on most everything but beware of the chemical elements that you may be introducing to the garden you will be eating from.

Unfortunately nothing beats good old fashioned hand weeding. It is hard work but extremely satisfying once done and just a note regarding weed killers of all types.

Weed killer sprays can travel by air, or mix in water and run downstream (during rain), causing you to unintentionally harm nearby plants or flowers.

2. Have you forgotten about crop rotation?

Crop rotation is important as it prevents plants from encountering the same pests or insects from a previous harvest. In addition to that, the rotation helps to renew and restore the soil’s nutritional level.

Rule of thumb is not to plant the same crop in the same place year after year, for example don’t be tempted to plant Tomatoes and Tomatoes and Tomatoes. How about Tomatoes, Corn, Lettuce, Beetroot, Potatoes, Nothing, then start again?

Not only is it good for the garden it makes it more interesting to see which crops may grow best in each location.

3. Making the Garden Bed.

Especially during the early stages of establishing a garden, it’s important that the soil is rich and healthy for the young seedlings. You don’t want the soil to get too hard or dry.

Doug says, “For soil that is heavy in clay, you’ll need to add Pumice Sand and Living Earth organic matter to relieve compaction. For soil that is sandy, you’ll need to add Living Earth compost or well rotted manure to improve retention of moisture and nutrients.”

Both suggestions enable your plants to firmly plant its roots. Work the garden over well to mix the added sand or compost in. Doing this early in the season will make planting time much easier and provide improved results at Harvest time.

4. Put extra blankets on.

Mulching is intended to slow down or prevent weeds from growing in your garden. Pea Straw mulch can also feed your garden with essential Nitrogen necessary for healthy plant growth. That said, adding in too much mulch may prohibit seedlings from getting the adequate amount of moisture they need for growth. Doug suggests adding an inch of mulch when seedlings are a couple of inches high and a few more inches when they are half grown. This may also help protect them from wind damage or maybe a late frost.

5. Picking and placing plants in the garden.

All plants are different and thrive in varying climates. Some require more moisture whereas others require more sunlight. Try planting your seedlings of new vegetables so they are exposed to the full benefit of the sun. Plant in a north /south direction, this way all the plants get sun and none are shaded by their neighbour.

Put plants that will grow taller at the rear such as corn and plants that need full sun in the front where they are easily accessible and can be harvested regularly such as Cos lettuce.

6. Leave enough room for me to grow.

It’s easy to forget that your plants, be it vegetables or fruit, need space to grow. Placing plants too close together can cause them to compete for sunshine and other critical nutrients. To ensure proper spacing read the instructions that are on the tag that comes with the plant Doug recommends keeping the bed clean of weeds.

Weed early and often, particularly during the first few weeks of a vegetable’s life. If the plants still become too crowded harvest the small ones to get an early start of enjoying your garden’s bounty.

7. Don’t drown me.

Overwatering is definitely something that many gardeners may be guilty of. Roots that are soaked or sitting in water can cause plants to easily wilt as they don’t get enough oxygen.

Remember, roots need to breathe! Doug recommends properly managing watering frequency, especially in plants where the roots are fully mature. A good soaking at planting time and a good soaking once a day in the evening or early morning is sufficient.

Avoid water in the heat of the day.

8. Dying from thirst.

Sometimes it can be confusing to tell whether or not your plants are under or over watered. In both cases, your plant will turn brown and begin to wilt.

So how can you tell if your plants are missing that extra H20? The finger test is what is recommended by most gardening sites. Press your fingers down into the soil. If they come out dry and dusty water your garden. If they come out muddy and dirty the garden is probably moist enough but will need a drink by tomorrow!

Below are some useful links to our Facebook page which might help with the process described above.
Happy gardening!

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