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Growing a Successful Garden: Some common mistakes – and how to avoid them

mom and daughter gardening

Now that the weather is (finally) warming, are you ready to start planting your garden?

Read on for some ways to ensure that it is a success this year.

Choosing the Right Plants

When searching for plants for your garden (or house), the first thing you should consider is the amount of light in the area.

“Sunlight is important whether you’re doing a container garden or a garden in the ground, or even if you’re doing houseplants,” said Dawn Coffin, assistant greenhouse manager at Chuck Hafner’s Farmers Market and Garden Center. “It’s very important to be aware of how much light you have because certain plants require certain amounts of light. That will help start the selection process.”

Next, you should consider what you are looking for in a plant. Coffin recommends asking questions such as: Are you looking for full color all season long? Are you looking for an edible landscape? What are your goals and wishes? “Then, we will have several different choices that will work,” she added.

Common Gardening Mistakes

Once you have selected a plant, Coffin said there are a few other things you should keep in mind.

First, make sure that you’re using the right soil mix – especially if you’re planting in a container.

“We always suggest that you should use a container or potting mix for containers, just because it helps with the amount of moisture in the soil,” said Coffin. “If you’re doing a vegetable garden or something like that, you can use your soil, as long as you can work it, but add compost to it. Add compost to your garden beds, even if they’re ornamental. It adds nutrients to the soil, and it’s always a good first step.”

Another common mistake that Coffin sees is the amount of water that is given to plants.

“Water well once, but make sure the plant doesn’t sit wet all the time, because it needs to be able to dry down,” said Coffin. “It helps the plant be healthy and it creates a better root system, and that makes for a better plant overall.”

“Children can do a lot. Having a vegetable garden, it’s just such an eye-opening experience for them. It’s almost magical for them because they can see it from the beginning to something they can have to eat. It’s the same thing from seeds if you want to try flowers. Seeing that whole process from a small sprout to a flower, they really do enjoy that.” – Dawn Coffin, assistant greenhouse manager at Chuck Hafner’s Farmers Market and Garden Center

What are the Best Options for Families?

There isn’t just one.

“If you wanted to do a container of flowers, you could do marigolds, geraniums, begonias,” said Coffin. “Or if you’re doing vegetables, you could do strawberries, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers. As long as you’re starting with the right container, soil and amount of sun, there’s really a lot that families could choose from.”

Final Thoughts

“There are so many people that are willing to help and answer your questions,” said Coffin. “And you learn by trying. Something may work, something may not work, but don’t get discouraged. There’s always another plant that you can try.”

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