Thinking of Starting
a Vegetable Garden?

Starting a vegetable garden is exhilarating, but daunting at the same time.

Steve Tending the Tomato Temple
Tending the Tomato Temple
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Think of all the things you can grow!

Fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes…salads that melt in your mouth…crisp, sweet carrots, straight from the earth.

Imagine yourself surrounded by lush green leaves, red orbs of vine-ripe tomatoes beckoning your hand to pick them…hummingbirds and butterflies visiting flowers all around you.

Makes you want to jump right in, roll up your sleeves, and get started!

But then you think about the details, all the things you need to do, all the things that could go wrong to doom the whole project…

...and it gets put off again until next spring.

Worry about the details of starting a garden for now, not the details of running one. There’s plenty of time for pest control and what to do with your abundant harvests down the road.

Starting Seeds for 2008 Garden 1
Starting Seeds in Pots © Steve Masley
Click IMAGE to Enlarge

I’ve had a plot at a community garden and taught classes and workshops on organic gardening for years, and I’ve seen beginning gardeners make the same mistakes over and over again.

Every year a new crop of gardeners, every year the same set of costly, completely avoidable mistakes.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, I’ve put together a list of The Top 10 Mistakes Beginning Gardeners Make.

Drawing on over 25 years experience growing vegetables organically, and after polling the most experienced gardeners I know, I came up with this list to help new gardeners avoid frustration and wasted effort.

When you’re starting a vegetable garden, so much depends on what you do at the beginning.

Mistakes made at the outset are like planting seeds that grow into tangles of problems down the road. The first year of gardening is tough enough, without making it harder.

But before getting into the list, sit down with your family, and make your own list—of all the vegetables you like.

Have them help pick out seeds and seedlings. If your family is involved from the start, you’ll have more help later in the season—and not just eating the produce!

The Top 10 Mistakes Beginning
Gardeners Make

New gardeners make 10 common mistakes when starting a vegetable garden:

Stanford Community Farm Plot 2
Our Plot at the Stanford Community
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge
  1. Planting Too Much Garden
  2. Wrong Varieties
  3. Planting Too Early
  4. Poor Soil Preparation
  5. Poor Garden Spacing
  6. Not Enough Light
  7. Incorrect Watering
  8. The “More is Better” Trap
  9. Not Mulching
  10. Ignoring Pollinators

If you’re growing vegetables in containers, click Here for the ins and out of container vegetable gardening.

As a final note, here’s something to remember about starting a vegetable garden: You are going to make mistakes.

You may even make some of these mistakes, in spite of my warning. If you do, all is not lost.

Embrace them, mistakes are your teachers, if you pay attention. Your plants will recover from most of them, and you’ll be a better gardener.

Top of Starting a Vegetable Garden
Vegetable Garden Planting Strategies

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Thanks for all the great info! I have been gardening over 30 yrs and still learned things from your site!

--   Verlee Deana Norris Jenkins, Clinton, Arkansas

Awesome site, very informative, well laid out, very user friendly!--   Dorothy Carothers

I just love this site! I am on it just about everyday - just reading all the information you have posted. Thank you so much for your creative ideas, plant information and the beautiful pictures. This is My site for all my gardening questions. I have already started tomatoes, peppers and floral seeds under lights. Thanks again, Judy--   Judy Gianetto, Wolcott, Connecticut

Great info and very useful. I'm starting a new garden this spring and you've given me a lot of tips. Thanks and keep it up. Angie--   Gardener Angie

This looks like a fantastic website, full of useful information on growing organically. I'll be returning to it regularly!--   Vera Lynne, Sydney, Australia

I am recommending your website to my Master Gardener students. It is very informative and contains good info on growing organically.--   John Haase, Oklahoma State University

Awesome site! Really going to help me in my container gardening adventures this summer!--   Michelle Doherty

I found your site while looking for changing the pH info for an article I am writing. Now I will be linking to you on my blog as well, and visiting here often!--   Pam Carter

Greetings from 'Down under' in Victoria, Australia. Great gardening site with lots of info. Have put you on the favourite list for all the things I keep forgetting. Beautiful photos of your tomatoes etc. Kind regards and happy gardening.--   Liam, Victoria, Australia

I love your site! And, I'm lovin' my garden more because of it. Thank you for doing so, and helping folks like me get more out of my garden.--   Will Johnson, Denver, Colorado

I seriously learned how much healthier all my gardens could get just by reading your treatises on soil, pH, and bacterial/fungal symbiosis. Totally changed my world. I barely need to use anything to control pests now, where my gardens needed NEEM almost constantly before your site educated me.--   Khonsu Lunaris

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