Wow I've learnt so much in my last year of gardening. Last year when I started I had no idea what I was doing. I mean they are plants right? you put them in the ground, they grow, you eat! Makes sense. Well it is and it isn't that simple! I though I'd share my mistakes plus what I've learnt so you can save money and avoid these mistakes:
1. Compost, compost and even more compost! Your soil really does determine what quality and quality of the product you grow and can eat. Add way more compost that what you think you'll need and then add some more. You can't expect lots of food from soil that is depleted and had no love. So before you spend the money on seeds or seedling fork out the money (or make your own) to add lots and lots of compost to your garden.
2. Read the instructions! Plants come with instructions on where to plant them and how to look after them. Follow these!! They are not guides or recommendations they are instructions. I've wasted money and killed several plants since I decided where they would grow rather than where they actually needed to grow. Read up about a plant before you buy something this will save you money and disappointment when it doesn't perform. My poor Fig tree has been rehomed four times now since I actually bothered to read where they like to grow. Now I expect it to produce well!!! Knowledge is your friend.
3. Seedlings are fantastic. Seeds are great and give you a chance to grow a wide variety of plants (including unusual ones) but seeds can take a lot of work and if you're not sure what you're doing seedlings are a much better way to avoid disappointment. A lot of people will tell you seeds are much cheaper (they sure are) but they also take more time to grow and take more effort. So now I use a mixture of both to keep a steady supply of plants.
4. Add fertiliser and poop! So now that I've improved the soil with compost I've also added heaps of sheep poop and will water with worm wees and make comfry tea when my comfrey is big enough.
5. Water is your friend. Water your plants! We couldn't survive without water neither can our plants. I'm pretty good at watering but sometimes it's just too much effort. Result my garlic just wasn't as big as it could have been! Not to self water more deeply.
6. Space. Some plants need a lot some not so much. I have a habit of leaving too much space between plants and then the weeds come help themselves. Or I don't leave enough space and they compete too much. Read the instructions! (See note 2!)
7. Mulch. Yeah yeah I know all the books say it, all the experts say it but did I do it? Nope. So this year we've added 2 trailer loads of mushroom compost all over our garden to work as a mulch plus soil improver. Looking forward to a bumper crop. Mulch suppresses weeds (should be enough of a reason to mulch!), it reduces water loss, it suppresses weeds, it adds organic matter to your garden (i.e improve soil quality), oh did I mention it helps suppress weeds!!!
8. Know your garden. Spend some time studying your garden; get to know your garden and then plant your plants according to where the instructions say. Some areas of the garden are sunnier, or winder or wetter than others plant your plants accordingly.
9. Read, read and read some more. There are plenty of amazing people, books and blogs that will save you a lot of pain and money. You do not know best (this is you meaning me!!!). There are a lot of experts out there they DO know what they are talking about. Humans have been growing food for a very long time; how and where to grow plants really doesn't change with time!
10. Have fun. The most important thing of all. If you're not having fun you wont feel inclined to go out in the garden. The more my garden produces the more inspired I feel. So feed your soil, read your instructions, water and enjoy.