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10 Common Mistakes First Time Gardeners Make

Starting a vegetable patch in your garden is a great way to become more self-sufficient, however, it can be daunting if you have no prior experience of growing vegetables. 

We compiled a list of the common mistakes of first-time gardeners, which we hope helps you avoid making these mistakes also, saving you both time and money!


1. Putting your garden out of sight

It is very common for vegetable patches to be placed at the end of the garden out of the way, however, doing this can mean your garden gets neglected. Think of the phrase out of sight out of mind. Placing your vegetable patch out of sight means you won’t easily be able to see signs of drooping, spot pests early and know when your crops are ready to harvest. Keep your patch near the back door, or in view of the kitchen window if possible. This will mean you are much more likely to harvest your crops to use in your delicious recipes.

2. Planting too much

Many first time gardeners underestimate how much time it can take to properly care for a vegetable garden. Many start out with big plans, but it’s best to start simple with just a few varieties that are relatively easy to grow, and then gradually increase your patch size year on year. 
Sowing all your seeds in one go can also be a common mistake, your family won’t be able to get through all your crop as it will be ready at the same time. This can mean you’ll have to give lots away, otherwise, it will rot, bolt or wilt before you have a chance to eat it. Try succession sowing, sow a few seeds every 2-3 weeks and you’ll have a longer and more manageable harvest. 

3. In the wrong position

Take the time to work out when and where the sun is in your garden throughout the day before deciding where to put your vegetable patch. The majority of vegetable plants need 6-8 hours of light each day, so choose a spot in your garden that gets this. If your garden doesn’t get quite that much sun, grow vegetables that can be grown in partial shade, these are usually leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard, parsley and thyme. Alternatively, plant your crops in containers as you can move these around the garden with the sun. 

4. No spacing

When your seedlings are only a couple of inches tall its easy to plant them too close together, as you can’t envision how much space they will take up. However, this just increases your workload and can lead to weak plants as you’ll have to keep disturbing their roots to move them further apart. Too many plants in a small space can lead to a bad crop because they will be fighting for water and nutrients and there won’t be enough to go round. You can find the recommended spacing for the vegetables you are growing online, and be patient, they won’t look too spaced out for long! 

Having enough space between your vegetables also helps to create airflow between your plants, without airflow pests can become an issue as they thrive in those conditions.

5. Failing to prepare the soil

Many first time gardeners don’t realise how important preparing your soil is for growing a successful crop. Your soil needs to have the right texture, and be rich in nutrients when growing vegetables. If you don’t properly prepare your soil you will have much lower yields. Adding organic matter such as compost and aged manure is the best way to prepare your soil. Using mulch is also very beneficial as it can give your plants nutrients, stop weeds from sprouting and lock in moisture, saving you time and energy.

6. Not keeping up with maintenance 

Consistency is key to keeping up with the maintenance your garden needs to thrive. Keeping your garden up together by doing a little each week is much better than letting it all build up and potentially risking your chances of getting a successful crop. Gardens need to be weeded, fed and watered often. Without these three your plants can come under a lot of stress and shut down, resulting in little to no produce.

7. No pest control

Be sure to inspect your plants at least once a week for any signs of pests, spotting pests early means you can easily resolve the situation before it affects your whole patch. Make sure you check both sides of the leaves and check every type of crop you are growing even if they are in the same area.

Look out for our blog on common plant pests for more information, so you know what to look out for!

8. Not harvesting

The first time you grow vegetables yourself it will be hard to tell when they are ready to harvest, many first time gardeners then end up leaving the crop for too long for fear of harvesting too early. This can result in vegetables being past their prime and not tasting their best. This is where research is key, online you can find photos of what to look for and rough guides of how many days between seed and harvest. When it gets near this time check your crop each day and don’t be scared to try one before harvesting the rest. 
Waiting too long can have adverse effects on the crop, as many can go to seed if you leave it too long. Herbs such as basil and coriander thrive when frequently harvested. Pepper and cucumber plants won’t set more if the branches are already full, resulting in you not getting the most out of your crops.

9. Planting far from a water source

Water is very important when it comes to growing a successful crop, however, a common mistake when positioning your vegetable patch is not considering your water source. In the summer months when gardens need watering daily, you are much more likely to neglect your garden if you have to carry a heavy watering can a distance, or if your hose is difficult to get to. If your patch has to be far from the water source to get the recommended 6-8 hours sun, consider investing in a water butt that collects rainwater which can be placed next to your patch to use for watering. This option is also much more environmentally friendly than getting it out of a tap.

10. Taking on too much

Some first time gardeners start off with a large vegetable patch and struggle to find the time to keep it properly maintained. It is best to start small with only a few fruit and vegetable varieties while you gain knowledge and confidence, and then expand your plot each year to suit you and your lifestyle. 


Now that we have informed you of what not to do when starting your first vegetable patch, we hope that you will have a very successful first harvest!


Please remember to send us any photos of plants you are growing from our seed range. We love to see them all! 

Send them via email to, or use #seednsow on all forms of social media. Links to our social media pages can be found below, give us a follow!


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