Common mistakes can ruin your garden

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This lacewing is an example of a good insect. Their larvae (childhood stage) are known as “aphid lions.” They are predators of several bad insects from whiteflies to mites.

By Marilyn McKinley

OSU Master Gardener

I have enjoyed gardening for as long as I can remember. So when the opportunity arose, I became an OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer. But as all gardeners, I have made many mistakes along the way.

I once heard someone say, “If you haven’t killed over half of what you planted you are not a true gardener.”

Here’s a list of some common mistakes, and what I suggest you do to stop you from giving up and keep you enjoying gardening.

Starting out too big. Start small so you can do it right.

Not knowing your soil. Get it tested and amend accordingly.

Over- or under-fertilizing. Read labels to learn about balanced diets for your plants.

Ignoring light requirements. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn’t.

Not understanding correct watering requirements and techniques.

Avoiding pruning flowering shrubs/trees. They need a trim now and then.

Spraying everything if you see a bug. Don’t assume a bug is causing the problem.

Ignoring your use of color in flower gardens. A mass of different colors is confusing to the eye.

Scalping your lawn. That’s a no-no.

Buying unhealthy plants. Inspect for bugs, disease before purchasing.

Not considering what your garden will look like in a couple of months when your plants grow and spread.

Waiting too long to get newly purchased plants into the ground.

Not knowing that “spreads easily” means it is most likely invasive. That’s sometimes just annoying, but you may harm other plants and animals by planting it.

Not reading the plant zone information on the tag. Current zone maps place us in Zone 5 or 6, but many Zone 6 plants end up not blooming and sometimes dying.

Planting any kind of mint in your vegetable garden. You will spend years trying to get rid of it.

Letting dill go to seed — unless you want hundreds of plants.

Forgetting to create and use a compost pile. It helps amend our clay soils.

Not thinning seedlings. I know it’s painful, but it’s a must for success.

Not deadheading flowers to encourage more blooms.

Not knowing what your seedlings will look like, so you end up pulling out plants you think are weeds, while letting weeds grow.

Not learning the value of “aged” (sufficiently decomposed) manure. Although not compost, it is close.

Not learning exactly what garden terms mean. This is a classic: I know someone who “deadheaded” tomatoes.

By following these rules, you should be able to avoid major mistakes along the way.

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