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My Stupidest Garden Mistake - or - We Were Once All Newbies

11 years ago


Many thanks to ChrisMD for saving this excellent thread which reminds us that we all make mistakes. Those mistakes are often funny and always a learning opportunity!

* Posted by: PattiA6290 7b ) on Sat, Feb 9, 02 at 8:17

A friend of mine had her son-in-law plant several hundred tulips for her one year. That next spring none of them came up. Miffed she was gonna return them to the nursery where she buys all of her plants. After she started digging them up she notice he had planted them all up side down. lol

* Posted by: Iris_gal z9 CA (My Page) on Sat, Feb 9, 02 at 1:52

Humorous now, but not then. I had a salad ready for company but had forgotten to pull up green onions earlier in the day. I knew where they were in the dark and in the kitchen began slicing - hmmm, don't look quite right - a taste confirmed they were not onions! I'd pulled up young Dutch iris. The 2 are not planted in proximity now.

* Posted by: ilovecountrylife z5 MI on Sat, Feb 9, 02 at 14:44

the very first year I started gardening was when I bought my first house. The previous owner had a 3' by 3' bed where she started seeds. I decided I was going to make it into a herb garden. I bought $50 worth of herb plants, chives, basil, tarragon, thyme, oregano, sage, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. I planted them ALL in that little tiny 3'X 3' bed. Needless to say they crowded each other out and only the strongest few survived. I still laugh when I think about it.

* Posted by: Karenga 7 on Sat, Feb 9, 02 at 20:07

What a great post!! I make many many mistakes, so now I feel a little better. I tried digging up tulip bulbs one year, speared every one but two. I don't bother with them anymore!! Planted a wildflower bed, then heavily mulched it. Tried starting some seeds in flats, forgot the drainholes. Planted some huge flowers at the front of my border. Just a few examples. Unfortunately that is just scratching the surface. ha ha.

* Posted by: Janet 5 SE MI on Sat, Feb 9, 02 at 20:51

So many mistakes! Sunlovers in shade, tall in front, weeding out plants I want, I can go on and on!

* Posted by: plantynut 7 Long Island on Sun, Feb 10, 02 at 8:23

I admired Carpet Rose in my favorite nursery for 2 summers. Finally last summer I bought one and put it in a flower bed in front of my house. What a mistake. It was too sprawling, the thorns are killers and flowering was less than spectacular. I plan to yank it this spring.

* Posted by: Karen_in_4 Mpls 4 on Sun, Feb 10, 02 at 8:32

Was cleaning up the seeds shed by my Dutch Elm tree off the sidewalk. Thinks I to myself, "We don't throw away things that can decompose and turn to dirt." So I throw hundreds and thousands of seed pods onto my rock garden. Spent the entire remainder of the summer pulling little elm tree sproutings out of the garden. Doh!

* Posted by: Shirleb 7b TX on Sun, Feb 10, 02 at 9:40

I have made MANY mistakes but the biggest is.... I have sandy soil and when I bought this lot (blank slate) I was thrilled to get a beautiful yard started. I immediately laid out the beds, went to all the nurseries and started planting like an obsessed woman. After two years of poor growth, gallons of fertilizer, and humongous water bills, I took a step back. I had to rip out all of my plantings, took a good soil analysis, hauled in truck loads of compost , added greensand and soil conditioner. I've replanted but made a wondrous discovery. Originally I only found an occasional earthworm, during the replanting I found wonderful colonies of big earthworms.

* Posted by: Byron 4a/5b NH on Sun, Feb 10, 02 at 18:03

I am only and advanced beginner, Been gardening for a tad over 1/2 century.

IE There are over 50 diseases that can infect a tomato plant, I can name a doz, there are over 100,000 species of bugs on this plant, 20,000 have been named, Aphids have 4,000 subspecies, I can name about 10.

I think the biggest mistake that new gardeners make is not asking about problems when they find it.

The net makes it a lot easier than the days of no net, no county agents, no plant problem books in the library. If the local nursery didn't know it, you were out of luck.

* Posted by: Iris_gal z9 CA on Mon, Feb 11, 02 at 3:55

I remembered another salad one. Loving fresh ingredients, I picked the curly parsley at the last moment (no pesticides in that garden) and began snipping it over the company salad. It began moving? Baby green aphids! Aughh!

The most stupid thing I've done though, is to plant a shrub at the south end of an east facing rose bed - in three years it cast so much shade that 2 roses had trouble blooming. That was really stupid, especially because I'd had a tall Juniper removed for that very reason!

* Posted by: Philipw2 7 MD on Mon, Feb 11, 02 at 22:54

Planting a 50 foot photinia hedge in partial shade. It has gotten very leggy which kind of defeats the purpose of a hedge.

Moral: for big projects be dead sure about your plant choice.

* Posted by: mary11 6B/7 on Tue, Feb 12, 02 at 16:25

1. Not amending my hard, clay soil and planting a bunch of expensive perennials in it.
2. Buying plants that don't do well in my region.

* Posted by: Diana_in_Wisconsin Zone 4 WI on Wed, Feb 13, 02 at 15:46

I've been gardening for about 20 years now. Sometimes I'm still really dumb. My MIL gave me a beautiful German Statice one season, dug from her garden. I rushed right home and planted it...too deep! I don't know what I was thinking! I planted it so deep that I covered up all the lower leaves and I snuffed the poor little thing. Duh! And also, planting a few things in the wrong places, and making the mistake of planting mint! What the heck was I thinking? LOL! It's going this spring...if I can get rid of it, that is.

* Posted by: lavatera 5a on Fri, Feb 15, 02 at 11:30

Planted GIANT marigolds that I started from seeds. The bed included many other wonderful flowers that I too had started from seed. They were quickly mauled by the amazon marigold. Finally found the original seed packet and read that it could get up to 4 feet tall! It looked so bad all summer right smack dab in front of my house. YUCK.

Moved to a new house this year and I'm just waiting to see what my next mistakes will be. They're always good for a laugh!

* Posted by: josiemmmm 3 on Fri, Feb 15, 02 at 16:07

The first year I got the planting bug, I bought some seed starter kit greenhouses, with BIG BIG plans of how I was going to have HUNDREDS of plants to plant in my yard when I was done! I started them in...oh...let's see, April? And they were all perennials! And I had no idea what I was doing, so I only stuck them in the window, and when they came up I roasted the poor little things. Plus, no matter what, we all know that grow lights are usually needed. Of course they got fried, or leggy, and most died. The sweet peas I planted looked great, except everyday when I came home from work I would find another flat nibbled down by my cats! Terrified that they would get sick (and angry that they were eating my best crop), I put them up on my fireplace ledge. They just jumped up, knocked them down and ate them all up. Never got sick once, but I had a huge mess to clean up.

The few plants that managed to live, well, I planted them out in the garden one day...without hardening them the middle of the afternoon...under a blazing sun! lol Needless to say I got ONE plant out of all that. Brave little sucker.

I also made the huge mistake of planting two Lilacs way too close to each other. They were so little when I bought them, that it seemed just fine to put them THREE FEET apart. Now they are growing into each other, and it's only been 2 years. Plus I planted another large shrub next to them, again, a few feet away. It is going to be a mess. I have some digging to do!

One summer I babied a poppy plant, only to be informed that it was a weed! I pulled it up and there was the poppy, much smaller, behind it.

I fertilized my 'hansa' rose the minute I planted it in the ground. The poor thing was so lush and happy when I bought it. Then all the leaves crisped and I realized what I had done. luckily it is a tough rose, and recovered nicely, even blooming for me! Whew!

* Posted by: nygarden z6 NY on Fri, Feb 15, 02 at 22:36

I bought a caladium from Home Depot the first year I started gardening. It was truly beautiful. Every time I looked at it I thought of the Caribbean!!! I replanted it in a terracotta pot and that plant was the star of my garden -- not too many things were working that first year!!!! Well, as fall came and the leaves fell off completely I thought it died. I decided to reuse the pot for another plant and used a sharp trowel to dig out the dirt out. To my surprise, I dug right through the heart of the bulb, which was still very much alive. That was the year I added the word "dormant" to my vocabulary!!!

Gosh, I miss that plant! to this day my heart is broken.

* Posted by: gourd z8/9 CA ) on Sat, Feb 16, 02 at 18:34

I just started gardening about 1 1/2 years ago, and thinking how much I loved Zucchini, planted over 50 plants. Oh my god, they were everywhere and my family was getting tired of eating it that year. Got cuttings and put them in the potting soil up-side-down. To date, I am constantly learning everyday from the Gardenweb.. Thanks to everyone here.

* Posted by: Marisha 6OH on Sun, Feb 17, 02 at 20:47

One year my husband brought home a truckload of grass clippings from work, in big plastic bags. Oh, thrill! We could use them for mulch in the vegetable garden......little did we know how many dandelion seeds were hidden in all those grass clippings...until the next spring when they all bloomed! =

* Posted by: suzegarden 5mo on Sun, Feb 17, 02 at 21:18

Last year another gardener told me if I wanted my plants to get really huge, go to the feed store and get a big bag of nitrogen. So i did. Put it all over my garden. On the leaves, everywhere. Killed about half of everything, particularly some expensive perennials that I started the year before. Won't take advice from this gardener again.

* Posted by: MrsBeasley 4a Northern Ont on Wed, Feb 20, 02 at 21:56

My MIL had a big, beautiful garden on the side of a hill, and as her family was getting smaller, she offered me all the space I wanted. I planted a lot of vegetables, but the mistake I made was that I planted the whole packet of turnip (rutabaga) seeds. I had a row of turnip 50 feet long. I had the nicest crop of turnip you could imagine. There was only my husband and myself to eat them, but I know lots of people that like them, I could give some away.

When it came time to harvest them, I worked my heart out. I'd cut off the root and leaves, and fill the wheelbarrow, trot the wheelbarrow down the row and pile the turnips on the grass. I worked for hours!

Finally, I was done, I took the knife into the house and washed it off, and went back out to the garden to admire my turnips. I had a pile of turnips as tall as I am. I was almost up to this great pile when a few turnips at the bottom of the pile moved, the whole lot of them started rolling down the hill. I was chasing after them, I'd gather a few in my arms and when I'd reach for another the ones in my arms would get away and continue down the hill. I must have made quite a sight, because my brother-in-law was laughing at me. "You'd better catch them," he called, "They're going to wipe out the neighbor's house"!

I eventually got them rounded up, but it turns out everyone doesn't like turnip the way I do! :-) I wound up serving turnip at least once a week in every way you can imagine. I served them boiled, fried, in stew, I cooked them up and added pumpkin pie spice and made fake pumpkin pie! I thought it was rather inventive of me, but it was the turnip fritters that finally did me in. My husband took one bite and gasped. He had thought that he was biting into an apple fritter. He said he didn't care if he NEVER ate another turnip! I was NOT to grow them ever again! I guess he just doesn't have a sense of humor! LOL

* Posted by: Jannie z7 LI NY on Thu, Feb 21, 02 at 19:55

I tried to grow daisies in full shade. They died after several months, never came back again. I now read every plant tag carefully and look for those little sun and shade circles. Don't try to fool Mother Nature!

* Posted by: Nancyusn z8 NC on Sun, Feb 24, 02 at 21:22

Mrs Beasly,
I'm sorry to say, I was laughing so hard I had tears! My whole career in the U.S. Navy I dreamed of a veggie garden, when my husband and I retired and went to South Dakota I dug right in. The Corn on the Cob had a bug and the cucumbers were overwhelming, there were not enough hours in the day to keep them from rotting. No more cukes for me!

* Posted by: Lees_Haven z7TN on Mon, Feb 25, 02 at 21:28

My first year of gardening I had a "cow weed", the tall ones you see growing in cow pastures in Tn., come up in my new bed. I didn't know what the stuff I had planted was supposed to look like, and I feed and watered that plant faithfully. I could not get that sucker to bloom. I literally fell out when a friend of mine told me what had come up in the middle of my flowers. It was almost 12 feet then. Needless to say I got online that winter and the following spring I didn't plant it unless I could identify it.

* Posted by: NancyD 6 Rochester, NY on Tue, Feb 26, 02 at 8:43

Some of these stories remind me of my first days as a gardener, but I continue to make mistakes now and then, only now I refer to them as my little "experiments!" I don't believe there's any such thing as a "stupid" garden mistake. Mistakes can be your best teacher and what makes you a better gardener.

* Posted by: pondwelr z5 WI on Wed, Feb 27, 02 at 11:23

I think Mrs. Beasley’s turnip story is one of the funniest I've ever heard. You really should submit to OG or some other gardening magazine.

In my 30 years of gardening have made so many mistakes that I'd be hard pressed to name the stupidest. I once nurtured a burdock thinking it was rhubarb. That was about the hardest to eradicate. In my current new house, I've planted all these small shrubs and trees too close together. Some of us never learn!

* Posted by: GloryBee 8 ) on Wed, Feb 27, 02 at 16:01

I fell in love with chocolate mint the first time I smelled it and decided to buy a couple of dozen of them to fill our bay window bed so it would smell incredible every time it was brushed walking by. I never knew how invasive it was and how far even a couple of plants spread. We decided to take it out because it was even growing throw those interlocking bricks you can buy that were lining the bay window :) It was taking too long pulling it. Strong little plants! So, I rotatilled them. HUGE MISTAKE! No one told me they can divide by the roots also.

Heidi S~

* Posted by: francee 6b on Sat, Mar 2, 02 at 21:57

Laughed sooo hard at the turnip story ....
My cheeks are still hurting!!
One year I planted 30 foxgloves and anxiously awaited their blooming in the following year and not one was to be found. DH had pulled them all up thinking they were weeds. I lost a lot of perennials that year and now DH is only allowed to weed dandelions!!

* Posted by: LisaZ10 z10FL on Sun, Mar 3, 02 at 2:44

I will never forget the time I killed almost ALL of my 2"-3" tomato, pepper, eggplant and herb seedlings - nearly 300 of them. I watered them and sprayed the leaves with a concentrated fertilizer w/sea kelp 5-9-5. Didn't follow the directions properly! For the seedlings I was supposed to dilute the previously diluted solution again. Gave it to them full strength and woke up to little stems with burned, wilted leaves. Ohhhh!, I had to start all over again, more seeds, more Jiffy-mix, more WORK, more TIME, more MONEY and more aggravation. Planting all those seeds is hard work! My garden was a little later than I planned. Of course I felt stupid, because following directions is something I was supposed to have learned a long time ago!

* Posted by: NikkiJ ACT Australia on Mon, Mar 4, 02 at 5:39

I am so glad have found this site, and in particular, this forum! I've only been gardening for about 5 months (never had a garden I could do anything much in before! I'm still renting but the yard here has so much potential!!).

I've already learnt soooo much and had so many good laughs!! The silliest thing I've done so far was planting sunflowers in the back yard - my 6 y.o son begged me to! Only thing is, the sun spends most of the day shining on... yes... the BACK of my house! Oh well, at least the neighbors have a nice view of them over the fence...

* Posted by: Ruiadh 5/6 Toronto on Thu, Mar 7, 02 at 18:46

Great stories, everyone.... but I betcha I can beat ‘em.

Spring-flowering bulbs... plant ‘em in spring, right?

Late summer, about 7 years ago, I moved into my first house. It came complete with an overgrown garden ? of course, at the time I didn’t realize it was overgrown. That’s another story. I also became the beneficiary of the previous occupant’s subscription to the late, lamented Cruickshank’s bulb & perennial catalogue. Put those two facts together with someone who had never so much as pulled a weed before and you would have found me trotting off Cruickshank’s tiny retail operation in early April of the following year. Although the staff tried very hard to explain the rudiments of gardening to me, and even though virtually all of their operation was dedicated to mail-order service, I was so pig-headedly determined to have the bulbs I coveted that they let me buy a few gazillion daffodils and lilies, a bunch of glads, and, oh yes, a bare-root clematis. ‘Bluebird.’ By the time I got home, the sun had sunk low in the sky and it seemed too cold to plant my goodies. They sat in their bags in the enclosed and dark and unheated back porch for, oh, say, 3 weeks. The bulbs were eventually planted in the ground, in standard-issue Toronto clay, and the clematis got bunged in, what at the time I believed was a LARGE, terracotta pot.

It?s a testament to the quality of Cruickshank?s products (Heather R and Indigo be damned!) that about half the glads appeared as did most of the lilies (in fact a few followed me to my new house last February) and the daffs showed up the following spring. But what about the clematis? Well, the ?Bluebird? variety had been chosen ‘cause the catalogue said it did well in pots and there was lovely photo to prove it. My poor little clem actually grew quite well for several weeks, despite it?s southern exposure in a baking hot terra cotta pot that was really only about 10 inches deep & maybe the same wide. I?ve been apologizing indiscriminately to clematises (clematisii? clematisoi?) ever since.

* Posted by: Shirleb 7b TX on Thu, Mar 7, 02 at 23:42

Reading about the turnips reminded me of my husband, the tomato king. Our first vegetable garden, he planted a whole row of about 25 tomato plants. When it came time to harvest, I was wild with trying to come up with ways to use them all up. Juicing, canning, soups, and even made homemade ketchup which the kids refused to eat because it wasn't Heinz. I couldn't give them away because everybody else grew them also. I was completely overwhelmed to say the least.
The following year he insisted on planting even more. One day when he was at work, I went to the garden with a kitchen knife and explored the root zone of quite a few plants. He decided that the cutworms were having a field day and proceeded to collar and spray like a madman. It was a sad thing that he never defeated those cutworms that year or for years thereafter.

* Posted by: CarrieIN on Sun, Mar 10, 02 at 8:54

Thinking that I was pruning my tomato plants I removed the yellow blossoms!!!!

* Posted by: flxabl z5 IL on Sun, Mar 10, 02 at 13:41

You may have to think about this one.

We had an old ugly concrete patio/walkway leading to the door of our kitchen. We busted up the concrete and put in a mulched flower bed with stepping stones leading to the door.
We have kids AND pets. We also had a mulched kitchen.

* Posted by: gnomey 7b SC on Wed, Mar 13, 02 at 13:26

I spent all last Spring digging and planting and coddling all of my new little plants at my new home. Then we decided to have a pool put in. I didn't realize until afterwards that pool installers aren't sympathetic to flowerbeds or the lawn; most of my babies in the front of the house were destroyed. Then there was the tree at the rear of the house that needed to come out - a huge tree. With the equipment coming in and out on that job the hydrangeas and azaleas on the other side of the house got crushed. The wood got stacked in the backyard on top of lilies and glads. So I'm starting over, hoping that I won't have to have any more non-gardening workman here. I guess the moral of the story is to plan ahead and get your plants out of any potential paths that workmen or equipment might have to use.

* Posted by: DogHouseMom 5 ) on Fri, Mar 15, 02 at 20:39

One day while leaving my office I noticed a 7' Ficus (Ben) sitting on the dock. I asked why it was there and they said they were dumping it, and if I wanted it ... I could have it. Well sure ... I had never had one and figured the sucker was 7' tall it was surely healthy and would survive! As I was carrying it into the house my aunt (green thumb aunt) saw me and came to check it out. She found slugs in the plant. Well my mom heard "slugs" and banned the poor thing to the basement (right next to a So. facing window though). Aunt Gin gave me slug instructions - use so many parts water to so many parts dishwashing liquid and water it. Because I had taken the plant home in the Winter she also suggested that I tent it to reduce shock, and told me to put a large plastic garbage bag over the top after watering to give it a greenhouse effect.

I found the biggest plastic garbage bag I could find, tented it, watered it with the soap solution, and waited.

Little by little the thing started to shrivel and die. In a little over a week this seemingly healthy (and now slug free) tree was shriveled into firewood.

Why oh why didn't she tell me to choose a CLEAR plastic bag instead of the black one I had chosen????

* Posted by: SusanC Z9/Sunset 17 on Fri, Mar 15, 02 at 21:22

When my husband and I bought our first house, we were very excited about being able to have a garden. We went out and bought a ton of perennials and got ready to plant them.

After much discussion, we decided that the planting holes should be EXACTLY the same size as the pot the plant came in and that we should try not to disturb the plant's root ball in any way when planting. We carefully chiseled out the correct sized holes and squeezed the plants into them. Needless to say, we had a lot of unhappy, sad looking, root bound plants...

* Posted by: Kat_G 5b/6a Ontario on Sun, Mar 17, 02 at 19:08

I decided i was going to grow parsley this year, not having heard any of the issues around parsley growing. I used earth that had come from my grandmother's garden to start the seedlings. Planted them in a clear plastic dome container and waited. My grandmother told me in the meantime that she never had any luck with parsley and that i should make sure it's in a warm place. I put it on top of the fridge and I waited some more and voila! a week and a half later i had... parsley! I was so ecstatic, thinking that i had actually grown something that my grandmother couldn't!

As the little sprouts grew, I realized that I recognized those leaves but it was not parsley. I had cultivated two beautiful little morning glory seedlings. humph. I have since done a little research (it didn't say so on the package!) and found out that parsley takes between 4 - 5 weeks to germinate (all of those trips to see the devil and back!). There's still hope; maybe... (I'm now in week 3)

* Posted by: Meghane 7b NC on Mon, Mar 18, 02 at 17:48

Trying to grow hybrid tea roses in humid NC is about the dumbest thing I've ever done. You can't win, between the black spot and Japanese beetles I had tiny moving shiny green "buds" on top of naked sticks all year. I was lucky and never had aphids. Got rid of them this spring and planting cannas, ginger, and an assortment of other "tropicals."

Oh, every year I take out all my overwintering tropicals approximately 6 weeks before the last frost date, then complain profusely about having to either drag them all back inside (a 4-5 hour ordeal), or cover them with blankets and/or pots. Of course this year everything is so big, I can only choose to drag them all inside. So you all know how I'll be spending my Thursday evening. We have 38 degree nights predicted. ARGH! I'll never learn!

* Posted by: talkingflower z5 MA USA on Mon, Mar 18, 02 at 23:32

Well, I live at the historic site of THE WORLD'S TALLEST PRINCESS PINE! That's right...

I thought I'd transplant a little pine tree from the back to the front of the house. Absent-mindedly dug up a cute little fluff of a tree and planted it boldly out by the road's edge, and to be sure no one drove over it, gave it a tall, red-reflector marker.

My neighbor thought it was quite amusing. She broke it to me gently that, yes, that was a very nice little tree, but...not a tree.

Princess pine only grows to about 6" tall and is used in making wreaths. Now I know...

* Posted by: katbird Z6 SW Ohio USA on Fri, Mar 29, 02 at 17:45

First spring in brand new home, hubby got tired of helping me edge and mulch the beautiful snowball bushes in the backyard and decided he would get "fancy" with it. Goes to the local hardware store and buys about 5 gallons of RoundUp and some new pruning shears. I was in the house and not paying attention... big mistake... went to tell him dinner was ready and found that he had trimmed the snowballs to look like cute little trees with a big "pouf" on top.. !! Ok, that wasn't so bad.. He also however, had taken the round-up and sprayed all around the mulched bed area underneath.. from the trunks out to about a 6 foot circumference around, with the idea that it would be forever grass & weed free!! I grabbed a garden hose and tried drowning the things to keep them from dying and biting my tongue to keep from losing my garden helper. Well the snow balls went through a period of about two weeks and a half of curling dried up leaves but they lived!! Unfortunately, the grass back to the house where DH had walked back with the round up on the bottom of his shoes didn't.. We had a human foot print path of dead grass that the neighbor kids all loved to play along that summer till it grew back! My Stupidest Garden Mistake was using Cheap Labor!! LOL

* Posted by: DianeZone4 zone 4a on Wed, May 1, 02 at 15:41

Hope it's not too late to post a followup to this - when I lived in Missouri years ago, we bought a home on five acres which came with an old tractor and cultivator, etc. My husband got all excited about using the tractor to plant a huge one acre garden, which he would weed with the tractor attachments. Unfortunately, he didn't realize that the attachments didn't match, in terms of row width, so we had to do all the weeding by hand! Finally, the kids and I picked out a patch to weed and let the rest go. That part produced the nicest tomatoes I've ever seen, but the rest was a one acre disaster!

* Posted by: alagard alaz8 on Thu, May 2, 02 at 6:45

Well, mine was in trying to grow the potato vine, some call it air potato. My Mother grows them along her front porch every summer for shade and they get very full. Well, the 1st year, I planted mine when she did and waited and waited... nothing. So she said dig them up - maybe you planted them upside down. Sure enuff they had been to china and were on there way back up. So, this year, determined not to get them upside down, I took some of the potatoes that were already sprouting roots on the shelf in her shed. Can't go wrong, right? Everyone knows, the roots go DOWN, right!? Well, same thing - her's were sprouting, mine weren't So I dug up a small one in her garden and what a surprise! The roots AND plant grow out of the TOP! Weird. So back home I go, to dig them up AGAIN. Finally they are growing and I might just get what I'm after. Needless to say the DH laughed his head off when I once again planted them upside down!

* Posted by: blooms4me Ga8a on Thu, May 2, 02 at 23:50

When I got married and we bought our first house I was going to be the perfect housewife. Can veggies,etc. SO.. I picked out a spot to grow our garden. I had heard you could put newspaper over the grass and after awhile it would kill the grass and I could start my garden. So, I gathered all our newspapers, laid them down and put a few rocks on them so they wouldn't blow away. We were both in the AF reserves and had to go out of town for the weekend. Well, we got back Sun afternoon and newspapers were ALL OVER the place. All over my 5 acres and against the fence of the neighbors pasture. Took me hours to gather all that paper. I was so proud of myself for remembering that tip, but apparently they said water the paper, and put lots of mulch on it which I neglected to do. My new husband just stood there laughing at me and shaking his head. (probably wondering how he ended up with such an idiot)

* Posted by: Lisa_Ann z5 IN on Fri, May 3, 02 at 22:10

About 22 years ago my husband and I bought our first house in the country and decided to plant a HUGE vegetable garden. We had the garden spot plowed up and my husband did the rotatilling. Well, the time came for us to plant the corn. I brought out my little bag of seed corn and placed it by the first row and waited for my husband to finish the tilling. He got too close to the bag and rotatilled over it. I was devastated, so I sat down (wearing short shorts) to pick up the little seeds. I didn't think anything of it until a few days later while sitting at work and I was getting very uncomfortable. Well, needless to say I ended up at the Doctor's office and was diagnosed with a major case of poison ivy - ugh. I still get into poison ivy (where I am not sure) but I sure watch where I sit now.

* Posted by: Sandy_W 6 on Sat, May 4, 02 at 8:35

I planted cleomes. I didn't use a soilless mix. I saw new growth coming and was so excited. My cleomes grew great. I noticed some of my cleomes looked different from the others. Confused I took a leaf off of each and went to my favorite nursery. The man who owned the nursery said this is a cleome and this is a weed. Boy was I embarrassed. I can grow some awesome weeds. Now I know to use a sterilized mix.

* Posted by: Celestial Z6b/Eagle,ID on Tue, May 7, 02 at 12:03

1) After searching/not finding/asking about seed starting mix, believing the guy at the nursery who told me "they" used Whitney Farms Potting Soil as their seed starting mix [read: TONS of dampening off]

2) Planting roses in the lawn - Hello Mildew!

* Posted by: storey_z8b_TX z8b TX on Fri, May 10, 02 at 20:43

NEVER let a younger family member (he was 20, I was 23) help in your garden. We laugh about it now, but ... Anyway, I was busy moving small peppers and veggies from a seeding bed to growing beds and he noticed a few big caterpillars munching on some larger blackberry canes and wanted to help. I told him where the insecticidal soap was, he got it, and sprayed most of the flowering canes. Helpful right? Well two weeks later we found out he picked up the Round Up instead of the soap. Got rid of the bugs though :)

* Posted by: Ermine z9CA on Sat, May 11, 02 at 16:54

Although I've been gardening for years I always make stupid mistakes. I'm looking at one right now. 25 HUGE tomato plants that are all indeterminate! These babies will be bearing fruit past Thanksgiving and I'm scheduled for back surgery this summer!!

Thank God there are the local food banks to take a lot off my hands as I also went way overboard with the summer squash and chilies too. I can't believe I once again planted a veggie garden this big for just my husband and me. LOL.........

* Posted by: poinciana South West on Sat, May 11, 02 at 22:18

What a great thread, just look here if you need a good laugh! The turnip story wins for me. A relative would not touch turnips for years and years because she had to eat them almost exclusively during the war. Apparently, one can also get sick of turnips in a rather short time. :))

I have made many of the above mistakes and then some. These days I am a very experienced gardener as well as a (ahem) ‘professional’ to boot; and still, I keep making mistakes. Most of these come under the, not following my own advice category such as planting things too close, because I don’t like bare ground; subsequently having to move tons of plants while killing a few in the process.

The other mistake I constantly make is that my greedy little garden coveting brain won't let me purchase within bounds. I always buy too much. Imelda coveted shoes; I covet plants. As a consequence, I have scores of little plants or bulbs that are never planted due to a lack of time or energy. At this writing, there is a whole box of winter and summer bulbs in the garage, all have sprouted. Everyday I look at them and say, Yes, yes, tomorrow, I'll get to you. I see them sadly beckoning to me, like marooned sailors on a raft without water.

These days, swallowing my pride, I use 'little helpers' to ease the hard work. I am learning that no matter how well I think I have explained a procedure it frequently is done incorrectly.

Recently I enlisted my young, teen helper to transplant some Vincas into our little wooded area. I suggested he water them first, told him which spade to use, etc. and went to the front garden to deadhead the roses. After a while, I returned to find him sitting on the ground with a hand trowel, scraping out a fist size hole in the hard clay with his bare hands. I then watched in horror as he forced a bare-root Vinca into the hard, unwatered hole and pulled mulch over it. 'Where is the soil that you dug up with the plant?' 'Oh,' he said, 'I shook it all off.' I turned around and sure enough, there was a stack of poor little Vinca plants with their bare roots exposed to the afternoon sun, waiting for 'planting.' Good thing they are tough plants. After further instructions on how to properly transplant, my helper did a nice job. They all looked fine the next day. I just hope it will not be yet another mistake, because Vinca can be invasive. :->

One day I casually mentioned to my husband that I needed to prune the beautiful Virburnum plicatum tomentosum Marisii, which was blocking the front window, (another 'mistake') before transplanting it. I began to prepare dinner and did not notice that my husband had disappeared. After about 20 minutes he came back in, a triumphant look on his face and loppers in hand. 'Where have you been?' Proudly he announced, 'I pruned the Viburnum for you.' I rushed outside, fearing the worst. Gasp! There was the fully-grown Viburnum, its arm size branches lying on the ground, neatly stacked. He had 'pruned' the massive plant completely to the ground. I cried; my hapless husband looked devastated. We nevertheless transplanted it (not without great difficulty, because the roots were huge) and prayed. Miraculously, that Viburnum (after about 4 years) is again fully-grown and had the best horizontal display ever, this year.

* Posted by: buckeye_newbie USDA 5 on Tue, May 14, 02 at 15:23

I may have made a mistake... I have just bought a new house complete with overgrown yard and a terraced hillside with LOTS of landscaping. Right away, I noticed tall purple flowers (weeds?) growing right from the tree?s lawn, down the terraces and halfway into the yard. I pulled every single one out by the roots (they came out pretty easy, but had kind of a "creeping" root, especially round the rocky areas). Now I think these might have been phlox.

My question is, is phlox a flower or a weed? Is it desirable to have in the garden?

This could be my first mistake, but surely won't be my stup


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