5 Mistakes You’re Making in the Garden


5 Mistakes You're Making in the Garden | Tips and tricks for better gardening Gardening may seem pretty straightforward: plant your seeds, water regularly and watch them grow into beautiful, strong, lush plants. Unfortunately it’s not always that simple.

Growing a successful garden means you need to pay attention to the soil you’re using, the climate and temperature and the way certain plants interact with one another. Gardening is not always a “set it and forget it” endeavour. However, if you follow a few basic rules, you can take your garden from ho-hum to hot damn! 

Maybe you’ve tried growing a garden in the past with limited success. Perhaps you’ve never grown anything at all and have no idea what to pay attention to. Or maybe you’ve just accepted the “fact” that you’ re a brown thumb and are incapable of growing or keeping any plants alive.

If any of this sounds like you, read on to discover five common mistakes that might be standing in the way of you and a healthy, high-yielding garden.

 

1) You treat your soil like dirt

 

5 Mistakes You're Making in the Garden | Tips and tricks for better gardeningGreen thumbs know that good, balanced soil, rich in organic matter is the first key to success in the garden. Plants get their nutrients from the soil, so naturally the soil needs to be full of nutrition. 

Rich, dark soil -the type with earthworms munching their way through it- is the good stuff. Dirt, on the other hand, is void of nutrients and tends to be dustier, lighter in colour and “dead,” meaning no signs of worms or other insects.

Planting in good, nutrient-rich soil gives your plants everything they need to grow strong and healthy. Planting in dirt is like feeding your plants a diet of white bread and crackers: it might be enough to survive on but not to thrive on.

You should also fertilize at regular intervals to feed your soil the nutrients it needs. This, in turn, feeds your fruits and veggies the nutrients they need. This, of course, is also super important because your fruits and veggies will someday feed those nutrients to you and your family. See how that works?

Soil also needs to be balanced, meaning it needs to be at the right pH level for the plant’s preferences. The pH level determines how acidic or alkaline the soil is. The pH (potential Hydrogen) level of soil is measured on a 14-point scale. A low pH (anything under 7.0) is considered acidic. 7.0 is neutral and anything over 7.0 is considered alkaline.

Certain plants prefer more acidic or more alkaline soil. For example, blueberries prefer more acidic soil, so adding a little vinegar or some coffee grounds (highly acidic) to the soil can boost your blueberry production. But many other plants -including broccoli, beans and garlic- can tolerate a higher PH level, meaning a more alkaline soil. 

While you could test your soil with a special kit, the easiest way to know if you need to fertilize or amend your soil is by watching your plants grow and seeing if they look full and healthy or if they’re small, stunted or weak and wilted. You can also check out this DIY soil test from lifehacker.com. You can then amend your soil with different natural fertilizers and organic matter, like vinegar and coffee grounds for acidity or wood ash for alkalinity.

 

2) You’re planting the wrong things at the wrong times

Depending on your growing zone, different seeds and plants need to go in the ground at different times of the year. Some do better if they’re started indoors and transplanted to the garden as seedlings. Others do better if you direct sow the seeds.

Knowing what to plant when, and how to do it the right way can make all the difference when trying to get seeds to germinate, seedlings to survive and plants to reach their full potential in the garden.

5 Mistakes You're Making in the Garden | Tips and tricks for gardening success

To know when and how to plant in your area, you need to know when your average first and last frost dates are. In colder climates the last frost comes later in the year and the first frost comes earlier, making for a shorter growing season. In warmer climates it is the opposite (and in some, no frost at all) making for a longer and even year-round growing season. 

Different plants need to go in the ground at different times in relation to the first and last frost dates in your growing region. If planted too early, the ground may still be too cold and seeds won’t germinate. If planted too late, it may not have time to grow to its full potential or for fruits and vegetables to ripen before it gets too cold again.

To find out when your first and last frost dates are, check out these frost charts for popular regions in the US (US Frost Chart) and Canada (Canadian Frost Chart). You can also just Google “your region or municipality” + “average frost dates” to find out when to expect the first and last frost in your area.

 

3) You’re not growing the right plants together

5 Mistakes You're Making in the Garden | Tips and tricks for better gardening

Tomatoes and basil are great companion plants. Basil is said to repel pests and enhance the flavour of tomatoes.

Just like certain types of people get along better than others, certain types of plants get along better than others as well. You should always consider which plants will benefit from being planted together and which ones you should separate (much the same way as you would separate siblings who aren’t getting along).

This practice is called companion planting, and it can have a big impact on your garden. For example, planting basil with tomatoes is a good idea because they are great companions, both in the garden and on your dinner plate! Basil helps to repel all sorts of pests from tomato plants, including white flies, mosquitoes and aphids. It is also said to enhance the flavour of tomatoes as they grow.

Planting nasturtiums or marigolds in the veggie garden is also a great choice as these flowers are well-known for their pest-repelling properties. They make great companions for most fruits and vegetables.

On the other hand, plants that make poor companions can be a recipe for disaster when grown close together. Beans, for instance, should not be planted alongside members of the allium family (onions, garlic, chives, leeks, etc.) These plants can stunt the growth of beans and other legumes such as peas. Likewise, brassicas (including broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) don’t grow well when planted next to members of the nightshade family (such as tomatoes and peppers). Nightshades can negatively affect the growth and even the taste of brassicas.

Don’t get too caught up with following all the rules of companion planting, otherwise planning your garden beds might turn into a way more stressful process than it needs to be. Lots of gardeners report having success growing plants together that shouldn’t get along. But keeping companion planting in mind can help to ensure a successful garden.

Try to stick to the basic rules of companion planting: DON’T plant certain plants that are well-known for not getting along (like those mentioned above), and DO plant a variety of plants that work together to improve the soil, repel unwanted pests and enhance each other’s flavour. 

 

4) You’re not rotating your crops

Just as it’s important to use soil rich in all the right nutrients to feed your plants, it’s equally important to rotate your crops each year to make sure they are getting all that they need from the soil and are giving back as well. 

Rotating crops simply means that you do not plant the exact same thing in the exact same spot two years in a row. You want to move them (rotate them) around the garden and grow plants from different families in different areas. This helps to minimize pests and diseases that may be lurking in the soil and will attack certain plants from the same family. It also helps to ensure that the soil in a certain area is not depleted of specific nutrients. 

Since members of the same plant family tend to feed on the same nutrients, planting them in the same spot year after year will only deplete the soil of those nutrients which, in turn, will make for a weaker crop. For example, broccoli and other members of the brassica family are heavy feeders, meaning they suck up a lot of nutrients from the soil. Brassicas need to be rotated every year into soil that is rich in nutrients and so that the soil where they grew the previous year has a chance to replenish.

Beans and legumes are considered light feeders, and are beneficial to soil. In fact, they feed the soil and their leaves should actually be mulched into the soil when they die off as they will put tons of nutrients back into the soil where they were planted. 

Again, don’t get too caught up in the nitty gritty of crop rotation as it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where everything should go. This is especially true if you are planting more than one member of each plant family or are working with a small space.

Again, try to stick to the basic rules of crop rotation: DON’T plant the same exact thing in the same exact spot as the previous year, and try to avoid planting members of the same plant family in the same spot two years in a row. DO rotate your crops to some degree every year and try your best to plant heavy feeders where light feeders previously grew and visa versa. 

 

5) You’re not planting with pollinators in mind

While you may be making every effort to repel pests both large and small from your garden, you may be overlooking the importance of attracting beneficial insects and pollinators.

Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and even wasps are all considered pollinators or predatory insects and are especially important for plants that rely on pollinators for crop production.

5 Mistakes You're Making in the Garden | Tips and tricks for gardening success

Apples, cucumbers, blueberries, and squash all need to be cross-pollinated in order to bear fruit. This means they rely on pollinators to carry pollen from the stamen (male reproductive organ) of one flower to the pistil (female reproductive organ) of another flower.

Much the same as humans cannot impregnate themselves, plant species that depend on pollinators need them to carry pollen from the male part of a flower to the female part of another flower in order to “impregnate” that flower and cause it to produce fruit.

Members of the squash family, for example, have male and female flowers and the females will not produce fruit without cross-pollination. Apple blossoms, on the other hand, have both male and female parts, but they rely on cross-pollination from a different variety of nearby apple tree in order to bear fruit!

Some plants are self-pollinating, however, and will bear fruit without the help of pollinators. Such plants include tomatoes, peas and beans. But by and large you will do yourself a world of good if you take a few simple steps to attract beneficial pollinators to your garden.

Don’t worry about trying to wrap your head around how pollination works or which plants require what type of pollination. All you need to worry about is attracting pollinators in the first place and nature will pretty much take care of the rest. 

Consider taking the following steps to attract beneficial pollinators to your garden:

 

Hang a hummingbird feeder 

Pick up a hummingbird feeder for less than $20 at most garden and hardware stores. Then make the nectar for pennies instead of buying it pre-made. Just mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water and bring to a boil in a saucepan. Turn the heat off, mix well and let cool. Then transfer to your feeder and watch the hummingbirds flock to your garden!

5 Mistakes You're Making in the Garden | Tips and tricks for better gardening

 

Build a bee hotel

Honey bees aren’t the only pollinating bees around. Mason bees are lesser known and can even be mistaken for flies. They are excellent pollinators, however, and they don’t sting!

You can attract Mason bees to your garden by building a bee hotel for them. Follow these plans from Burt’s Bees to build your own bee hotel

You might also be able to buy a pre-made “hotel” from a local Mason bee supplier in your area and have it set up in your garden with Mason bee larvae already in the holes of the bee box. A quick Google search should tell you if there are any such suppliers in your area.

 

Add a water feature to your garden

Butterflies, birds and bees all need water as well. Consider adding a birdbath or other water feature to your garden to attract them. Adding water to your garden will also help attract dragonflies. While dragonflies aren’t pollinators, they are considered to be very beneficial bugs as they prey on pests such as gnats, flies and mosquitoes. 

5 Mistakes You're Making in the Garden | Tips and tricks for better gardening

Plant a flower garden

Pollinators are attracted to the bright colours of flowers, so don’t forget to add in some flowers when you’re planning your veggie garden!

Lavender is always a nice addition to the garden as it looks pretty and smells great, has healing and medicinal properties (and certain types are edible), plus it’s a major attractant for honey bees.

Scarlett Runner beans are another great addition to your veggie garden as they produce bright red flowers that attract loads of hummingbirds, and also produce beans to eat!

 

Gardening success is simple science

Planting and growing a successful garden does involve a little science, but it’s not rocket science. Anyone is capable of turning a handful of seeds into a bumper crop if they follow a few basic gardening rules. Even then, some rules can be broken. 

If you’re not sure how two plants will do side-by-side, plant them together and see! If you’re not sure how good your soil is, plant some seeds in it and watch how they grow (or don’t grow).

Remember there are no failures in the garden, only learning experiences. Even the most experienced gardeners face challenges and setbacks from year to year. But that is how we learn and grow as gardeners ourselves. Don’t get too hung up on how successful your garden is. Look at it like a science experiment and resolve to learn from it to become a better gardener year after year.

Perhaps you’ve had little success in the garden before or you’ve never even tried growing anything because you have no idea what to do. The best thing you can do is to take some time to plan your garden before actually planting anything. When planning what will go where, take the common mistakes listed above into account and try to avoid them. 

Whatever you do, don’t stress about it too much! Growing a garden can be a beautiful, bountiful, rewarding experience, but not if all it does is stress you out. If some things don’t grow as planned, do your best to figure out why and then try doing things differently the following year. It’s not the end of the world. That is, after all, the beauty of gardening: There’s always a new season to begin again.

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

2 Comments

  1. Lynda Lu Gibb

    Great tips.. looking forward to the bountiful harvest and the time to put it all away into jars and freezer for the winter..

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Me too! That’s why we have 10 tomato plants this year. Planning on making lots of tomato sauce:) Brian thought I was crazy when I told him we had 10 plants!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
You Might Also Like
Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe

* This article may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   Elderberry syrup has gained popularity in recent years as a natural but powerful herbal remedy, particularly for treating colds and flu. After all,...

read more

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup

* This article may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   Okay, I’m just gonna come out and say it: I’m a total sucker for pumpkin spice. Call me #basic, but it’s the truth. In fact, I’m all about everything fall:...

read more

After 9 long months of extreme hand washing and sanitizing, the last thing our skin needs right now is the harshness of winter. But winter is here my friends, and that means it’s time to give your skin a little extra TLC.

I make my own body butter every year around this time, and it’s become my favourite way to moisturize my skin during the winter months. Much like a deep conditioner works on your hair, body butter absorbs deeply into your skin to help moisturize, repair and protect it.

While lotions contain water (aqua), they also requires additional preservatives to keep them from going moldy due to the water content. But this homemade whipped body butter doesn’t have this problem because it’s made of nourishing oils and fats like shea butter, sweet almond oil and coconut oil (plus beneficial essential oils for all-natural fragrance). These oils are not only all-natural and highly beneficial for your skin, they’re also easily absorbed, giving your skin a “deep conditioning” rather than just a surface moisturizing.

But the best part of all is how quick and easy this body butter is to make up in your kitchen, and what a nice gift it makes this time of year too! So you can make a jar for yourself and a few jars for the people you love:)

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-body-butter/ to get the full recipe and “whip up” a batch today;)
.
.
.
#bodybutter #naturalbeauty #naturalliving #skindeep #homemade #handmade #naturalskincare
...

The holidays are fast approaching, and that means it’s time for my FAVOURITE THINGS!!! 🎉🎁🎄(aka. The modern homesteader’s Christmas wish list;)

I’ve rounded up all of my fave kitchen tools, books and home and body products that I use all the time and could not live without (ok, I could live without them, but I wouldn’t want to!) and I’m sharing them all with you in this week’s YouTube video!

Grab a mug of something warm (or a glass of something chilled) and come on in for a tour of all the goods!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to YouTube.com/thehouseandhomestead for all the latest videos:)
...

I’ve wanted to learn how to forage for wild mushrooms for years but have always either missed the season, been too busy or just couldn’t find anyone to take me out and show me the ropes. (Mushroom hunters are known for being a little tight-lipped about sharing their spots;)

Well, today I finally got out with a guide and found my very first Chanterelle all by myself!!

This sort of thing might seem like no big deal to most people, but for those of us with an insatiable appetite for learning new skills, it’s a milestone moment.

There’s still an endless list of skills I want to learn and projects I want to tackle. The thing I love most about the homesteading lifestyle is that there is literally always something new to learn!

I don’t expect to ever learn all the things I want to learn, but I know that even when I’m in the latter season of my life, I’ll still have an insatiable appetite to keep learning until it’s my time to leave this Earth.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you live or how much land or experience you have. If you consider yourself a lifelong learner (who’s not afraid to get your hands dirty), then you have what it takes to be a homesteader too;)

Super pumped for tonight’s dinner of wild mushroom risotto and a celebratory glass of Chardonnay :)

What skill(s) do you want to learn next?
.
.
.
#wildmushrooms #mushrooms #chanterelles #foraging #wildfood #wildfoodlove
...

It’s November, and that means we’re about to head into cold and flu season (hello, some of us are already there 🙋🏻‍♀️)

Add in a global pandemic, and we could be in for a rough ride these next few months 🦠

I spent some time the other day whipping up a few homemade herbal remedies that we’ll be relying on all winter long to help boost our immunity and keep our whole family as healthy as possible. I thought you might like to join me in my kitchen as I show you how easy it is to make your own herbal medicine at home, and talk more about how we stay healthy the all-natural way (and how you can too!

More specifically, I’ll be showing you how to make your own elderberry syrup, rose hip syrup and fire cider with simple ingredients and directions that anyone can recreate. (Seriously, no special skills are required to become your own live-in natural medicine pharmacist;)

Head on over and click the link in my profile or go to https://youtu.be/Rli1LqxHbg8 to check out the full video and start stocking your natural home medicine cabinet before it’s too late!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead
...

I remember the distinct taste of the cherry-flavoured medicine I used to take when I got sick as a kid. I also remember the weird chemical aftertaste it left in my mouth (because the “natural” cherry flavour is really just added to cough syrups to mask the taste of the synthetic drugs they contain.)

Contrast that with the smooth, natural flavour of homemade elderberry syrup, made with organic elderberries, fresh ginger, lemon, cinnamon, cloves and raw honey, and the difference is like night and day! I would even put this stuff on my pancakes (and technically I could). That’s definitely a no-no for the cherry-flavoured pharmaceuticals.

But not only does homemade elderberry syrup taste better than the OTC (over-the-counter) stuff, it WORKS just as well to relieve cold and flu symptoms too! Actually, it might even work better!!

This is because, if used regularly, elderberry syrup can help you to stay healthy by building up your immunity and warding off illness in the first place, and if you do get sick, the antiviral, anti microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties in this elderberry syrup recipe will help you feel better and support faster healing rather than just relieving symptoms.

Oh, and by making your own elderberry syrup at home instead of buying it by the bottle at your local health food store, you’ll also save yourself a buttload of money. (And that also helps to relieve a little suffering;)

To learn how to make your own all-natural elderberry syrup at home, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-elderberry-syrup-recipe/ to get the full recipe!

P.S. It’s stupidly easy to make too, so no special skills are required to make your own batch;)
...

Just a reminder, there are only a few hours left to get your free Wellness Sampler Set from @planttherapy essential oils, which includes my very favourite Germ Fighter blend plus two more must-have oils to keep on hand this cold and flu season.

All you have to do is purchase the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle by midnight tonight and you’ll not only get almost 95% off the entire bundle, you’ll also get this set of three 10ml. essential oils (a $22.95 value) completely free! (Just pay shipping).

Head over and click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to learn more and get your bundle and your FREE Wellness Sampler Set now!

(Seriously, do it. You’ll be glad you did;)
...

If there was ever a year to be more diligent about taking care of ourselves and our families during the winter months, this would probably be that year.

That's why my focus right now (and every year around this time) is on stocking my home medicine cabinet with germ-fighting essential oils and herbal remedies of all kinds. And it’s why I’ve been encouraging you to do the same!

But in order to use herbs and essential oils safely and effectively, you need to know HOW to use them safely and effectively.

As with anything, you can find a lot of free info online, but how much of that information can you really trust? Wouldn't it be even better to have your own little library of reliable natural remedies right at your fingertips - especially one that's been created and curated by trusted aromatherapists and herbalists?

Well look no further, because the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle is back due to popular demand for the 5th year in a row!

Here's a quick breakdown of what's included in this year's bundle:

—> 17 eBooks with recipes for simple herbal remedies for cold and flu season, herbal teas for winter health, making your own spa products, DIY herbal gifts for men, essential oil DIYs for the home and much more.

—> 12 eCourses on how to make your own herbal preparations, use echinacea to ward off colds and flu during the winter months, create your own healthy, herbal sweets, increase your energy the all-natural way and more!

—> 6 printables and workbooks to help you plan your own herb garden, organize your essential oils, deepen your herbal knowledge and, you guessed it, more, more, more!

Best of all, you can get all 35 resources (valued at over $650) for just $37! But only for the next five days. After that this bundle goes back into the vault until next year.

If you wanna get your hands on this amazing library of resources, head on over to my profile and click the link in my bio to check it out.

Plus, if you order your bundle by tomorrow night, you’ll also get a free set of three essential oils from @planttherapy (the only brand of essential oils I use in our home).

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to get yours or learn more!
...

Lest we forget.

Democracy is fragile. We must never become complacent or take it for granted.

Remembering all those who fought and continue to fight for our freedom today.
...

🌿 It’s no big news that we’re headed into what could be a particularly bad cold and flu season this year.

Between COVID cases going up along with our stress levels about everything that 2020 has brought with it, we would all be wise to practice a little more self care right now, which includes getting our stress levels under control, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, getting adequate sleep and boosting our immunity and overall health naturally.

To help with this, we turn to herbs and essential oils in addition to practicing a healthy, natural lifestyle. And you’ll often find me on here encouraging you to do the same.

Natural medicine, when used correctly, helps to support all of the organs and functions of our body so that we are less susceptible to sickness and disease should it get in our bodies. While it can be used for acute conditions, it’s best when used preventatively, so if you haven’t yet, now is the time to start whipping up some homemade herbal remedies to start using before we get too deep into the season, and to have on hand if and when illness strikes.

My affiliate partners @ultimate_bundles put together an eBook with 54 herbal (and oily) recipes that you can easily make at home to help boost immunity, treat illness, promote sleep and relaxation, improve complexion and keep dangerous synthetic chemicals out of your home and body.

It’s totally free to grab it right now but it’s only available for free until tonight at midnight.

👉 Grab your copy by clicking the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead.

And if you’re also looking for some new essential oils to add to your home apothecary, remember to use coupon code HOME15 on your next @planttherapy order to get 15% off your entire order (only until the end of November).

Take care of yourselves and stay well everybody! ❤️
.
.
.
#herbalmedicine #selfcare #naturalmedicine #herbs #aromatherapy #allnatural
...

Only a few hours left to get your hands on all the freebies on offer at the Handmade Holiday Gift Mall, including my full video tutorial on how to make your own scented soy wax candles (always a hit at Christmas time:)

Plus, for a limited time only, use code HOME15 at planttherapy.com to get 15% off your order of essential oils to use in your homemade candles!

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to get your hands on all the goodies now!
...

My heart is so full right now. I’m sitting here crying happy tears as I watch history unfold. Such a breath of fresh air after the past four years.

I’m feeling hopeful for the future of our planet, our people and democracy all around the world for the first time in a long time.

Feeling so proud to call America my neighbour tonight. There’s still a very long road ahead to heal the deep divides and wounds of the past, but I’m confident we have what it takes to turn this ship around and ensure a long and prosperous future together. All of us.

Now let’s all get to work and get those borders open again soon!

Congratulations USA!!! 🇨🇦❤️🇺🇸
...

As we come closer to wrapping up the year that was 2020, I've started to reflect on the lessons I've learned. I distilled it down to 6 humbling life lessons that 2020 has taught me or reinforced in my life about gardening, homesteading and life, and I'm sharing them with you today in hopes that they might help you put this year in perspective too:

—> Lesson #1: We cannot control everything (and that's okay)
—> Lesson #2: Always diversify (crops, income streams, skills, etc.)
—> Lesson #3: Be grateful for the good (we cannot have the good without the bad)
—> Lesson #4: Hope for the best but prepare for the worst (stay positive but be realistic)
—> Lesson #5: Every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow (seek to find the lessons)
—> Lesson #6: There's always next year (one ending is just another beginning)

Join me for a heart-to-heart in the garden as I take one major disappointment (tossing a box of homegrown tomatoes in the compost) and make the best of it by using it as a catalyst to reflect on the year and the growing season and find the lessons and meaning behind it all.

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to watch the full video or go to https://youtu.be/XnnbsAqrd5A and let me know what hardships or disappointments YOU'VE overcome and what lessons you've learned this year in the comments.

Remember, we’re all in this together 🖤
.
.
.
#2020 #lifelessons #nosuchthingasfailure
...

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal

Crafted with ♥ by Inscape Designs