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Don’t make these 10 mistakes when gardening

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Surely there are more than 10 mistakes we make but I think I have found the big ones. Rarely do I take a negative approach to a subject but in this case it seem to be the best way to get the points across. Below are the mistakes we have all made when trying to create and maintain gardens and attractive landscapes.

– Not having soil tested. It is simple and cheap. Most University of Florida Extension Offices will do this for free or a small fee. Some garden centers do too. The soil acidity regulates nutrient uptake and for most plants should be in the pH 5.5 to 7.5 range. It needs to be much more acid for blueberries, azaleas and similar acid loving plants

– Not fertilizing the plants. We seem to plant them and forget them. Plants have needs too and use of a slow release fertilizer several times a year keep the ornamentals green and growing. Bedding plants and edibles need even more frequent feedings. -Setting plants too close together. Sure we want the instant effect but close planting is only good for short term container gardens. Note spacing on plant labels or garden guides. If plants are too close, they develop pest problems and quickly become overgrown.

– Pruning too often. Let your plants grow a little. Pruning back to the same size and shape stresses your plants. It best to selectively remove overgrown branches and shoots and not back to the same spots.

– Planting too close to the home or other buildings. Gardeners are always worried about trees affecting their homes mainly because they have been planted too close to the structures. Keep trees 25 or more feet from your home. Shrubs need room too. A general rule is one half the expected width plus one foot from a building.

– Picking the wrong plant for the site. No other plant has this problem more than the crape myrtle. Selecting plants that grow too big for the site is the reason we have to do such restrictive pruning to shrubs and small trees.

– Mowing to close and taking the same path all the time. You get ruts in the turf and maybe some dead areas. Change direction at each mowing to keep an attractive lawn.

– Expecting gardens to growth without our care. One friend said, “visit your garden each day for five minutes and you will spend an hour caring for the plants.”

– Not training young trees. Trees need your guidance to keep a straight trunk and good branching habit. Early training may prevent major pruning in the future.

And No. 10 – Planting crops at the wrong time. How many Florida gardeners still try to grow tomatoes during the summer? Use a guide to make sure your plantings are on schedule and not off schedule.