What keeps a beginner gardener lying awake in bed at night?
Is is realizing you forgot to water? Wondering if you should fertilize some more? Or if you accidentally ripped out your vegetables instead of your weeds?
No. It’s wondering why your plants are dying. . .yet again.
While I can’t know exactly every reason your plant bit the dust, here’s the most common reasons your plants are dying when you’re a beginner.
P.S. I debated whether I should fill this post with pictures of dying plants and thought that would be too depressing. So I decided to go with inspirational pictures in this one.
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Your Soil Sucks
Did you add any compost, manure, or other nutrients to your soil? No?
Chances are, your soil and plants could use an extra dose of important nutrients. Try watering once a week with a general purpose fertilizer like Miracle Grow, or digging a trench beside your plants and burying your kitchen scraps that were destined for the compost.
…And You Didn’t Rotate Your Crops
Or worse yet, you grow the same crop in the same spot every year. Sure, you might be able to get away with it for a year or two. However, be ready for bugs and disease as the soil slowly gets depleted of essential nutrients.
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You Underestimated How Much Light You REALLY get
Plants need light, and it’s important to know how much. Beginners often think that full sun is just a suggestion and of course that flower will be okay in a spot that gets 4 hours of sun a day. (It needs at least six, and preferably 8 or more.)
On the flip side, that lovely begonia you just bought won’t be happy in your full sun flower bed on the south side of the house.
Struggling to Find Perennials that grow in the shade? Here’s 17 that work well in zone 3
You Forget to Water
As a general rule of thumb, outdoor vegetables and annuals should be watered once a day unless it rains, and more if the weather is above 25 degrees celsius. If the plant is starting to wilt or get brown, it needs water–stat!
New perennial plants should be watered frequently in their first year. Once established, it’s okay to ignore them unless there’s a period of drought.
Pests are Stealing Your Vegetables
Every gardener will come up against some sort of foe–birds, cats, dogs, deer, rabbits, slugs, bugs and more can all ruin a beautiful crop. If you notice things look dug up, chewed off, or have holes in them, it’s time to research how to keep your pest-du-jour out of the garden.
Sure, this bird looks harmless. He’s secretly plotting to eat all your lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard so that you can never eat salad again.
The Weather Won’t Co-operate
Some years are just better years than others. Last year almost everyone in my province had a worse-than-average-garden because the weather was cold, wet, and lots of vegetables didn’t germinate and everything was delayed in growing. Add to that 3 crazy hail storms that threatened to kill all my plants.
On the flip side, the year before I had one of the best gardens I’ve ever had. It was warm, I was able to plant a week earlier than usual, and it rained at least once a week.
You Picked a High Maintenance Plant
Let’s face it, some plants are just trickier to grow than others. With flowers, the newer the variety, often the harder it is to grow.
Vegetables are no exception. Some vegetables need to be started indoors before the growing season starts, and others may take a long time to germinate, or require more watering and wind protection than you thought it needed.
You Stopped Weeding and Let the Weeds Overtake Everything
Let’s face it, no one really likes to weed the garden. Unless you’re going to commit to mulch or some sort of lasagne gardening, you’re going to have to weed at least once a week to stay on top of it without it getting overwhelming.
Not sure what’s a weed and what’s a plant? Here’s four easy guidelines to help you figure it out.
There is a Solution
Tired of killing everything you touch? You need my Beginner Gardening Guide. In it, you’ll learn how to solve every one of these problems, plus learn how to prioritize your time and what to plant so that you’re not chained to your garden all summer long.
Wouldn’t you like to serve a meal full of vegetables that you grew yourself? Or be the friend with the beautiful backyard that everyone wants to hang out in? Don’t wait another growing season to finally figure out gardening.
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Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.