Organic gardening errors are common even among experienced gardeners. The good news is that most garden mistakes can be corrected. Being aware of and avoiding the most common mistakes can prevent a lot of headaches later. Avoiding common mistakes in the first place can give you a healthier and faster producing garden. Here are four common organic gardening mistakes that you can easily avoid.
1. Failing to plan: Planning is crucial to the success of your organic vegetable garden. A typical mistake for new gardeners is to not give any attention to the garden soil. The garden soil is what feeds your vegetable plants; you must have healthy soil in order to have healthy plants.
The soil where you plan to locate your new vegetable garden should be tested before planting. You’ll want to do a soil test to see if your soil is around the right pH level. A pH testing kit can be picked up at your local nursery or hardware store. They are cheap and easy to use. But, no matter what your soil is like it will benefit greatly with the addition of organic matter. Over time you’ll achieve the right pH just by continually adding compost. In fact, most soil problems can be overcome with the continual addition of organic material.
Soil preparation is important, whether you’re growing a vegetable or herb garden, or planting a border of shrubs and perennials. Loosen the soil to a depth of twelve inches and incorporate several inches of compost or composted manure before planting.
2. Not Using Mulch: Mulching is a great way to prevent soil erosion. Mulch everything – vegetables, herbs, perennials, trees, and shrubs. Mulching with organic mulches (such as wood chips, leaves, or grass clippings) does several things: it reduces evaporation, it discourages weeds, and it helps keep the root zone of your plants cooler, keeping them less stressed. And, as mulch breaks down, it adds more organic matter to the soil.
There are many things you can use as mulch in your organic garden. The main thing you need to be sure of is that whatever you choose to use is organic. Compost is a great mulching material, providing all the benefits of mulch and feeding your plants at the same time.
3. Using Too Much Fertilizer: More fertilizer is not necessarily better, even when it is organic, so don’t be tempted. Some gardeners – especially beginning growers – put too much fertilizer on plants. That can cause problems with growth, especially with vegetables. Vegetables that have too much fertilizer don’t produce more fruit and produce. They will produce less fruit and more foliage. Not all organic vegetables actually need extra fertilizer. Read the fertilizer instructions very carefully before adding fertilizer to your organic garden.
4. Improper Watering: Water your plants deeply once or twice a week, depending on rainfall – more often in really hot weather. Make sure the water penetrates the soil.
Over watering will stress your plants. It encourages plants to develop shallow root systems, close to the soil surface. Without deep root systems your plants may die unless they’re watered daily. Encourage your plants to develop deep roots so they can take in more water by watering deeply only when the top inch of soil is dry. Under watering will also stress your plants. Under watering also dehydrates your plants, which can lead to weak, struggling plants that are susceptible to disease.