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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 5 Biggest Food Gardening Mistakes

As the main gardening season starts wrapping up, I thought I'd look back on some of the things that didn't work out for me. Or, rather, due to my own negligence, I ended up with subpar, dead, or unfruitful crops.

1. Not watering enough - Sometimes I get a bug in my britches and plant a ton of vegetable starts, water them well and then accidentally forget about them. They generally still survive when I remember to water them again (no, I don't have no fancy irrigatin' system) but they have a rough start and don't do as well as they should.

2. Not thinning - I really can't bring myself to thin out the plants as they mature, which just ends up stunting all of the plants.

3. Forgetting to fertilize - I started out the season all gung ho, making sure I was adding in my stinky fish fertilizer and then, well, I completely forgot to continue somewhere around the end of June. Oops.

4. Letting things bolt - Instead of staying on top of plants and actually eating them, I waited too long, thinking they would last. Instead, the next time I looked at them (broccoli, I'm talking to you, fuckers) they flowered, went to seed or otherwise stretched into the stratosphere in an inedible hard stalk that even the chickens ignored.

5. Not getting things in the ground at the right time - I diligently had my vegetable starts growing in the basement, doing extremely well. But, then I dropped the ball when it came time to get them in the ground. I had grandiose plans for new space, but then didn't have time (or back strength) to prepare the ground for planting. As a result, my tomato plants and all 29 of my precious pumpkin plants were the losers.

Each year, I do similar if not slightly different stupid things but eventually I'll learn. I hope.

What are your biggest gardening mistakes? Do they sound awfully similar to mine?

21 comments:

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

I like your tough talk to broccoli! How do you start plants while 'freezing your buns off'. I keep my downstairs at a toasty 62/64. The upstairs is a bit chillier(we do not have central heat). Any suggstions, besides a heat pad?

Crunchy Chicken said...

My grow op is right next to our oil furnace, so when it actually does go on, the space around it is heated. Frankly, I really don't know how they grow down there besides being under lights. It's a mystery to me.

clubkitty said...

That perfectly covers all 5 of my major mistakes this year.

Anonymous said...

Corgette's (zucchini to you guys !) planted in a greenhouse to start them of. Then forgot about them. Then couldn't get in to the greenhouse !!! By by tomatoes, that was 4 years ago still not living that one down !

Dianna said...

I made the same exact mistakes this year. I haven't had luck with broccoli yet and keeping it from flowering

Dogs or Dollars said...

Wow! Apparently we went to the same gardening school . Those are all my greatest limitations too. I think they can be summed up in one word, consistency. Why can't my plants appreciate the love I do show them? As opposed to withering away when I forget, and highlighting my mistakes?! Ingrates!

Anonymous said...

Biggest mistake- not staking tomatoes well- I've never had big tomato plants and this was a very sad mistake. 2nd not untangling tomatoes and squash when they were 'blown' over after a windstorm. They were small then, but I was afraid of breaking them. After the hurricane, they were a total mess. I made lots of other mistakes

Jessica

I'm sure I'll find many more learning opportunities next year.

E said...

2, Thin away and give the thinned plants to the chickens - that way it may not feel like a waste.

3. Its better to build long term soil fertility than to rely on quick fix liquid fertilizer. Your chickens can help, so would heavy leaf mulch in the fall (remove at planting if slugs are a problem). If you can mulch during the summer it will also help with the watering problem.

4. Cut the broccoli back and eat side shoots. They'll be small but still tasty and tender.

GirlRural.com said...

These are pretty much my exact same gardening issues for the year. I planted two sets of plants, both too early, and lost way too many.

Green Bean said...

Ack! I am SO guilty of not thinning. I always feel like it is so sad that I grew these little seedlings and now I'm going to yank them out?

Jen the Ecoventurer said...

I am guilty of all of your mistakes as well! I also have a problem with planting way too much of one thing at a time and then not being able to handle the humongous harvest! I am really working on improving my concept of succession planting so that I can harvest a few of each type of veggie for a longer period of time.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Well, I'm glad I'm not alone in my food gardening foibles!

Olivia said...

Yeah - the thinning thing is a problem. I feel like a murderer.

Aimee said...

I have all of your problems plus being too lazy to weed on a regular basis. I generally lose my entire garden sometime in July. Wait a minute... I know there was a garden here somewhere...

jj said...

We made the mistake of planting a lot extra, thinking that, because it was our first garden, we'd have big losses. Now we have to figure out what to do with 80 pounds of rutabagas...

Crunchy Chicken said...

JJ - I'd take some rutabagas off your hands :) But, if I were you, I'd post something on Craigslist, maybe doing a trade for different crops you didn't grow.

Ashley said...

ok I know this is a bit crude, but growing up having a garden the women were not allowed to garden during the time of their monthly. I have to admit that it did seem to have an effect on the plants.

Domestic Artisan said...

Completely similar!

SL Westermann said...

My top mistakes this year:

1- forgetting to plant garlic last fall

2 - not keeping the escape artist chicken out of the garden

3 - putting tomatoes in pots bc we thought we might move and thought I'd take them with and proceeded to completely forget to water them

4 - not keeping the drake away from any tomato that started to ripen

5 - not trimming back berry bushes in the fall

...crap...its fall now...berries and garlic, berries and garlic...

Randi said...

That about sums it up. Also, I second the "failing to stake tomatoes properly" comment. And failing to follow my garden plan, which throws off my succession plantings, crop rotation, and makes it harder to water and prune. Why spend all the time planning out your garden if you aren't going to follow it (aside from keeping yourself from going crazy in December)?

Anisa said...

We're going to try starting inside again next spring. As far as my mistakes.. I had to write a post since They were too many to list in a comment form this year. ;) http://lazyhomesteader.com/2011/09/26/five-things-i-learned-in-the-garden-this-year/

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