Members share their gardening mistakes
Every gardener has stories of good ideas gone bad. Here are a few National Home Gardening Club members with tales of their own gardening mistakes.
never enough zucchini
In my first vegetable garden, I planted 30 feet of zucchini plants, thinking they’d each bear two or three fruits. That year I made stuffed, sautéed, and fried zucchini. I baked zucchini muffins and bread. I gave tons to the food bank and the local nursing homes, and even left boxes on bus-stop benches.
—Ellen Henry, Albuquerque, NM
more than mulch
I added pillbug-infested mulch to my vegetable garden. Since then, my squash and cucumber plants produce only a handful of vegetables because they’re gnawed along the stems. The only plants unscathed are the garlic, shallots, and fennel.
—Veronica O’Barr, Diamond Bar, CA
bake until brown
I planted five azaleas, and they were brown, crunchy, and dead within a month. I exchanged them for new ones twice with the same sorry results. When the nursery manager asked me where I’d planted them, I told him in full sun in the south-facing bed in front of my house, mulched with white rock. I couldn’t have done any more damage if I had baked them in the oven!
—Tammy Goebel, Saint Charles, MO
they looked the same
Our first home had a nicely landscaped front yard. But I was horrified to find our back field full of what I thought were thistles ready to go to seed. My husband mowed them down fast. Two days later the same “thistles” in our neighbor’s field bloomed into a gorgeous sea of California poppies.
—Susan Salzman, Tolono, IL
My biggest gardening mistake was ignoring invasive plants. I thought they’d be easy to control, but I’m still pulling out English ivy and perennial pea. Hopefully it will only take a few more years to get rid of them.
—Donna Kimmel, Hillsville, VA
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 10:00 AM
My biggest mistake moving into a south Georgia home was seeing a whole bunch of the cutest little "crickets" one spring. Black with red stripes and leaving them alone. They were Georgia Lubbers which grow to 4 to 5 inches and are pretty indestructible as well as voracious eaters. Now of course those first few are now 5th generation grandkids and have invaded all my neighbors yards too. I haven't had the courage to admit they started in mine
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:18 AM
In Florida we get those nasty Lubbers... when they hatch
out of the ground, in the spring, they climb up some
green plants in the area, and sit there in the morning hours.
they are black with orange on their bodies, about one inch long when they hatch.
If and when we see them ......
I take a bucket of soapy water and push them into the pail.
the ones that get loose, i either mash them into the ground with my foot or have a bug spray handy to chase them down. they are very voracious eaters as you said. We are not there all summer so not sure how long they hatch out. I have only seen a few 5 or 6" Lubbers in the fall.
Saturday, July 30, 2011 8:37 AM
My BIGGEST gardening mistake was planting Chameleon!! Although beautiful varigated leaves in summer and fall, little did I know how invasive it could be in my garden as well as into my lawn. I planted it 4 years ago and I am silll pulling it out by the root!! Side note, wear gloves as the roots smell just AWEFUL!!!!
Sunday, August 07, 2011 1:09 AM
I planted a pomegranate tree about three years ago. After about a year, I relocated it; when it failed to thrive. over the next two years I babied and doted over it until this past spring I had blooms and finally small fruit! I feed the birds all kind of seed and feed to keep them away. My biggest mistake not researching my biggest pomegranate fruit enemy. One day, while looking out my back window, I saw a squirrel run up the base of the tree. He didn't come down right away; I ran to check things out. How is it I failed to notice that at this time, I had No fruit on the tree! Not One! While I feed one pest, I allowed another free reign! go figure!
Sunday, September 25, 2011 4:04 PM
My biggest gardening mistake was cutting back the foliage of my Tulips. I planted a bunch of different colored Tulips around a tree in front of my house. After they were done blooming I wanted to plant annuals in their place. I cut back all the foliage and planted the annuals in front of them. The next Spring the few Tulips that came up didn't get flowers. I did not know I had to leave the Tulip leaves so they can store energy for the following Spring.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 2:28 PM
This is not really a mistake, just nature's way of imposing itself sometimes. An unexpected surprise this past year when a mulberry tree decided to bear fruit for the first time. I guess it takes up to seven years for this to happen. Nice looking fruit, like beautiful blackberries, only very bitter. The local critters seemed to love them though and brought them in from all around. They didn't stop at the berries however, and that's the problem. Hostas, lilies, vegetables, you get the picture. You might want to check your own yards for these ticking time-bombs. They grow fast and tall and make wonderful shade and fill trees but the aftermath of critters and bird dropping stains are NOT worth it!
Thursday, December 29, 2011 12:05 PM
I love butterfly plants, unfortunately, I did not know how invasive they are. I live in a very cold climate next to Lake Huron in Michigan and read an article that stated they were not invasive in colder climates. Who ever wrote that article was wrong, wrong, wrong!
I am digging up volunteers from all around my garden, lawns, and everywhere! I could start my own nursery just selling these plants. I even spend most of my summer cutting off the seed heads of these plants after they start to bloom. We have transplanted almost 100 plants so far, next I will just start pulling them up and putting them in the "burn" pile.....The butterflies, bees and hummingbirds sure do love them though.
Saturday, December 31, 2011 2:02 PM
To vroberson: What is the "butterfly plant' you are referring to? I haven't had any plants in my butterfly garden go crazy on me and was just wondering what this one is? I live in KS.
Saturday, December 31, 2011 9:27 PM
I also live in a cold climate in the winter. I haven't had any problems with my butterfly plants taking over. I live in Massachusetts.
Sunday, January 01, 2012 6:40 PM
My neighbor asked me if it would be OK to cut back a huge old beautiful juniper hedge that ran down our property line, but rooted in my property. I told him it would be OK with me. He told his landscaper that he wanted the juniper "cut flush along the property line so that it didn't overhang his lawn". The landscaper said "Sí, sí, flush, flush." When I came home that night the entire hedge had been hacked off even with the ground. Not a trace of it remained.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 3:01 AM
My biggest mistake was planting mountain lillies!! While they are beautiful they are almost impossible to control. After 4 years of trying to contain them I gave up and started pulling them up by the roots.(which is no easy task) Now after the second year of doing this I've almost got my garden back!!
Monday, January 07, 2013 3:54 PM
I planted some zucchini in an old wheelbarrow I had turned into a raised planter last year. I did not plant too many seeds because I had been told by others that they are prolific producers. I did not get a single zucchini! I thought my raised planter would be great off the ground and away from bugs, rabbits, etc. I got so excited when my plants bloomed and then some zucchini started to form. I checked them everyday and one day I noticed some very small holes bored into my baby zucchini that was only 3 to 4 inches long. To my horror worms had invaded my raised planter and my zucchini were all eaten up inside with worms even into the stems and vines. I had cantaloupe in another larger raised garden that I had built. Just as I had five or six cantaloupe ready to harvest I noticed the same tiny holes bored in them. You guessed it all full of worms even the vines. I had to pull everything up and put it in our fire pit. I have not planted in the raised garden yet this year, but I do have a nice crop of Mescalin greens coming on in the wheelbarrow. Does anyone have any suggestions about the worms? They were small and white if I remember correctly. I live in Fleming Island, FL