5. Poor Garden Spacing, Overcrowding,
Failure to Thin

This one is my pet peeve about beginning gardeners, because garden spacing mistakes are costly and completely avoidable. Overcrowding ALWAYS leads to an unnecessary crash course in pest control and disease management.

Spinach and Lettuce Interplanted with Chiles
Spinach and Lettuce Interplanted with
© Steve Masley…Click IMAGE to Enlarge

Beginning gardeners have enough on their plate without this.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen starter pots of 20 or 30 basil seedlings just stuck in the ground without separating the seedlings and spreading them out.

It’s easy to understand how this happens. People are afraid to damage delicate seedlings, so they just plunk the whole pot in the ground.

Then there’s the reverse problem, the temptation to fill in all that bare, empty expanse of prepared soil with plants. Seeds and seedlings look so tiny in all that black space, but you have to imagine them as they’ll be at full size, and space them accordingly.

Click Any Image to See a Larger Version
‘Academic’ (Pointy-Headed) Cabbage, a.k.a., ‘Caraflex’
Tomato Varieties—'Enchantment' 2
Green Bean Varieties—'Spanish Musica' 3
Growing Tomatoes ‘Italian-Grandfather-style’. Fruit Sets in Fat Clusters Along the Stake

Top 10 Mistakes
 1.) 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.) "More is Better" Trap
 9.) Not Mulching
10.) Ignoring Pollinators

“I paid for 6 zucchini plants, I may as well plant them.”

“I planted seeds and got so many carrot seedlings, I just don’t have the heart to thin them.”

Such are the rationalizations that get newbies into trouble. Plants in overcrowded plantings are undernourished, stressed by crowding, produce a fraction of their potential yield, and are more susceptible to pests and diseases than properly spaced plants.

If you just get Garden Spacing right, you can save yourself a huge amount of frustration and wasted effort later in the season.

See Vegetable Garden Planting Strategies for information on interplanting, succession planting, and other planting strategies that reduce pest damage or increase yields.

Back to Starting a Vegetable Garden

Top Ten Mistakes Beginning Gardeners Make:

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