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Chris Bonnett is the CEO of Gardening Express
There’s always room for improvement in anything – even gardening. And there are some common mistakes I see people making when it comes to looking after their gardens. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been gardening, a lot of us think we are doing the right things for our plants when actually we’re making very common mistakes.
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Gardening mistakes usually come down to people doing little research about the plants they’re choosing.
You need to choose plants that are suited to your garden and the specific locations within it.
Here is a checklist of things to consider:
- Amount of watering required
- Soil type
- Amount of sun/shade required
- Space available for the plant (at the time of planting and longer-term)
- Flowering season
- Staking/deadheading/general maintenance
- Winter care – cutting back, taking the plant indoors
One of the biggest mistakes people make is down to watering.
A lot of people end up over-watering their plants in fear of them being underwatered and the truth is, giving a plant too much water is just as bad as not giving it any at all.
It’s important to do your research, some plants (like the Jade plant) and crops can handle less water.
That’s why I always recommend growing something like this if you’re a beginner – it won’t do much damage if you forget to water it every now and again.
Other plants like to be fully drained before their next watering and some must be kept moist at all times.
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It really does vary, that’s why it’s important to figure out what your plants need when planning out your watering schedule.
Similar to watering, I also notice people over fertilising their plants.
Fertilisers are great and sometimes essential in providing plants with an extra boost of essential nutrients like nitrogen.
However, just like overwatering, over fertilising can really harm your plants and the environment.
Signs of over fertilising include yellowing and browning of the leaves, very slow growth, and burnt or dry leaf margins.
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Ideally, you should aim to fertilise your plants every four to six weeks in the Spring and Summer, remembering to give the plants a good and deep watering after.
Another common mistake people make is not adding organic material to their soil. The organic material enriches the soil, helping it retain nutrients and moisture which are both beneficial to many plants and it’s also great for the environment as it reduces the need for fertilisers.
I assume people avoid composting because they think it’s too much work when actually all you need to do is mix materials that you could find in your garden.
Half of your compost mix should be materials high in nitrogen – this will be green materials like grass clippings. And the other half of the mixture should be materials high in carbon – these are brown materials, think shredded cardboard, wood stems, and bark. Super easy!
Planting too close is another mistake I see often. I assume people do this to maximise the space that they have but the problem with this is that your plants will be fighting for sunlight, water, and even nutrients in the soil around them.
Being too close to one another will also compromise their root growth affecting their growth overall.
Unfortunately, there is no rule of thumb as to how far apart you should be planting because it varies depending on what you’re growing.
At first, it may look like your crops are spaced out too much, but by the time they grow to their potential, that space will be filled up.
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