The 5 Vegetable Gardening Mistakes Beginners Should Avoid

If you are interested in beginning your own vegetable garden, first read these 5 gardening mistakes to know what to avoid before you start! 

As a beginner gardener, you can easily avoid common gardening errors with a little bit of research. I made these vegetable garden mistakes for you so now you don’t have to.

Here are 5 common veggie garden mistakes that beginners should avoid:

Gardening Mistake #1. Starting your plants from seeds.

gardening mistake don't start from seed

If you are a beginner gardener, it is highly recommended that you don’t start your plants from seeds. You might want to fully experience the vegetable garden process by trying start each plant from seed. I know how you feel – that’s why I did just that!

Even though I knew it was recommended for beginners to start small in order to keep from becoming overwhelmed, I still started a bunch a plants from seeds. I wanted that satisfaction of growing vegetables from seed. Because of this, however, I ended up not producing any crops!

It’s not worth it – buy transplants! It can be too difficult to learn everything you can about gardening (soil, weeds, pests, diseases, watering, sunlight, fertilizing) to add on to that learning the process of properly growing a plant from seed.

Gardening Mistake #2. Waiting too long to start your seeds.

gardening mistake don't start seeds late

IF you decide to start just one or two veg plants from seed, another mistake beginner gardeners can make is not starting the seeds early enough. I also made this mistake… 

An easy way to keep from making this error is to simply read the seed packet. The seed packet will tell you how early to start your seeds indoors or if you should directly sow them outdoors in the garden.

Usually seeds should be started indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. You can check the last Fall and Spring frost day of your area here in the Old Farmer’s Almanac by typing in your location.

Gardening Mistake #3. Planting the wrong plants for your area

gardening mistake wrong plants for area

One of the mistakes beginners can easily make with their first veggie garden is planting vegetables that don’t grow well in their area.

I planted zucchinis and bell peppers before summer in south Texas. I later found out that neither of these plants grow well in my area. Bell peppers and squash plants are susceptible to borer pests and have a hard time with the hot nights here.

I could have saved myself a lot of stress, confusion, time, and energy if I had done more research on the plants that grow best in my part of the state.

Gardening Mistake #4. Placing raised garden beds in the wrong location.

gardening mistake raised bed garden on grass
gardening mistake raised bed garden on weeds

If you decide to grow your garden in a raised bed, there are two location-related mistakes you can make.

What’s growing below the garden?

Do not just place the raised bed on top of your grass and weeds. Before you lay down the frame of the raised garden bed, remove as much of the grass and weeds as you can since this will go under the soil of your garden.

If you have an aggressive turf grass like Bermuda, be sure to remove it as best as you can. This will prevent the grass and weeds from shooting up into your veggie garden from below.

You can see on the picture above about how long grass roots and rhizomes are, for reference of how deep you’ll need to dig to remove them.

How much sunlight does a vegetable garden need?

The other garden location mistake to avoid is choosing a location for your garden that does not receive enough sunlight. Most veggie plants will need about 6-8 hours of direct sun. Others may even need 10 or more hours of sunlight (check the sunlight requirements for the plants you plan to grow). 

I made this mistake by placing my raised bed garden against an east-facing fence which blocked the morning sunlight from reaching my plants. Parts of the garden were not even receiving 6 hours of sunlight because even as the sun started to set, the adjacent covered porch started to shade the garden before the sun went down. 

I had to pain-stakingly move as much soil as I could when I relocated the garden to a sunnier location. I would recommend drawing a rough layout of your yard, marking where the sun starts hitting the ground at sunrise and where it becomes shadowed first at sunset. Choose a location that gets at least 6-8 hours a day, if not more like 10-12 hours.

Gardening Mistake #5. Planting only one plant that requires pollination.

Did you know…

Vegetable plants can only produce a fruit if their flower has been pollinated? Some plants are “self-pollinators” so both necessary parts are located in the same flower and can easily pollinate. But some veggie plants have male and female flowers on separate plants. 

This means they require the assistance of an insect (AKA pollinator) to spread the male pollen to the female flower of the same plant species that will grow the “fruit”. These plants include squash, cucumbers, and melons.

I only planted one zucchini squash plant, which limited its ability to be pollinated. Eventually an insect did pollinate it from a neighboring squash plant and it started to grow small zucchinis, but by then it was already too late in the season and the plant died before I could harvest them.

I think this picture about sums it up. This was my  garden’s harvest that led to this post.

By the way, that root thing is a carrot and the tiny “pickle” is actually a zucchini.

Go ahead, laugh. It’s ok.

So…

Ultimately what killed my plants was a combination of many issues. Errors on my part, that could have been avoided:

  1. Planting seeds when I should have used transplants. 
  2. Starting my seeds too late.
  3. Planting the wrong kind of plants for my location.
  4. Choosing the wrong garden location.
  5. Only planting one veg plant that requires pollination.

Learn from my mistakes and grow a healthy successful garden this growing season 😉

Happy gardening!

(And tell me about your success or failures in the comments. I want to hear!)

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Michael

    Let’s hope the new location we picked for the raised bed works out! Nice “harvest” shot! 😉

  2. Maureen

    You’re inspiring me to get outside and plant a garden! Thanks for the pro tips!

    1. Jaime

      I’m so glad, Maureen! I hope you do!

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