The Most Common Mistakes Beginner Gardener's Make
Want to plan your best summer garden yet? These eight steps will help you think through some of the most important parts of planning your summer garden and avoid common gardening mistakes!
Things To Think About When Planning Your Summer Garden
When it comes to planning your garden everyone is going to have different options and ideas based on what your particular space and climate is like, but here are a few things that are good for absolutely everyone to think about when planning their summer garden.
Find Full Sun And Utilize It
Most plants and herbs are going to want full sun to really grow to their full potential. This is especially important for Mediterranean herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, lavender, rosemary, and sage, which thrive in full sun and well-draining soil. Tomatoes are another vegetable that really needs full sun as well to thrive, while most leafy greens and herbs like mint prefer cooler partial shade.
Don’t Skimp On Soil Quality
Think of your soil as the foundation and nutrition supply of your entire garden. A strong foundation with a rich supply of nutrients will provide an incredible base for your plants to flourish and be strong enough to prevent against disease, while poor foundation with limited nutrients will leave your plants struggling and begging for help.
So do yourself a favor and before you get started planting always make sure to test your soil (once every two years is good) or opt for a high quality organic potting mix/compost to grow your plants in. You also will want to invest in an organic fertilizer as well, especially if you are growing in containers since your plants will need added nutrients periodically throughout the summer months.
Know Your Last/First Frost Date
If you live in an area where you get a frost then you are going to want to know your first and last frost date. This will help you plan when it is safe to plant most of your garden plants outside (after the first frost) and when the growing season will be over (when the first frost hits). While some plants like kale or swiss chard can be hardy to frost, most won’t survive which is why it is so important that you pay attention to your frost dates before planting.
Plant Throughout The Season
Often people will plant in the spring and then not do any more planting the rest of the summer. This is not an efficient use of your space and plants since many like leafy greens and many herbs can be planted continuously throughout the growing season using something called successive planting. This just means that you spread your planting out a few weeks at a time, which allows for some plants to mature while others continue to grow.
Prevent Pests Naturally
I understand how difficult pest management can be, but is is a natural part of gardening (and farming) and we need to accept that fact the pests will always be an issue we need to contend with, versus trying to wipe them out with chemical pesticides that can harm our soil quality, pollinators, air, and water supply.
One of my favorite ways to prevent pests naturally is to focus on companion planting, which can help to naturally prevent pests by placing certain plants that repel pests near ones other plants that they may be attracted to. You can also use diatomaceous earth sprinkled around your plants to prevent insects that like to crawl on plant's leaves.
Think Beyond Vegetables
While everyone's mind immediately think to growing vegetables and herbs in summer gardens, there are so many other plants you can grow.
Think about adding some fruit to your summer garden, or try including some pollinator-friendly flowers that can improve the overall look of your summer garden and act as an attractive option for pollinators!
It’s inevitable when you are planning especially a new garden that you are going to experience some overcrowding, and one of the best pieces of advice my Dad (who is an incredible gardener) told me was “don’t be afraid to pull some plants up and let them go”. Overcrowding will make it impossible for any of your plants to really thrive, so if you are noticing that your garden is overcrowded think about what plants you could prune back or remove entirely to free up some space for others you care more about.
Get Creative With Design
You can grow your garden in almost anything and I really encourage you to get creative with the design. Think about vegetables you can trellis, flowers you can plant in hanging pots, and herbs you can grow in a container kitchen garden on your patio. The sky really is the limit when it comes to garden design so don’t be afraid to be creative!