Seven deadly sins of gardening ... feeling guilty?
THE seven deadly sins of gardening: How many of these have you been guilty of?
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa - as a known brown-thumb killer of garden plants, I have been guilty of all bar number 6. And I missed that one only because I'm ignorant.
How did you score? Let us know in the comments field below.
1 Dust to dust
It's an obvious sin, but underwatering is common in our climate. And sometimes it's almost unavoidable, given occasionally onerous watering restrictions.
Try to water - within your council limitations - during times of low evaporation.
Evenings are good.
If you're not allowed to use a hose at all because of an extreme drought, it's time to go back to the trusty watering can.
2 Water torture
Yes, it is possible to drown plants. In fact, overwatering can be more damaging than underwatering, because it can affect the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and cause stunted growth and rotten roots.
A common symptom is yellowing leaves.
Different plants, different seasons, different climates dictate different watering needs.
Know your garden - eg how well the soil drains - and know what your plants need.
3 The low mow
When you cut your grass too short, you cut off most of each leaf blade (making it harder for the grass to regrow healthily) and you weaken the roots while the grass tries to catch up with the loss of leaf.It also leaves room for weeds to compete with your grass.
Try setting a mower blades height of about 5cm, or whatever would be required to leave about two-thirds of the leaf blade intact.
4 Death by mulch
Mulch helps retain moisture, can reduce weed growth and is good for your soil.
But if you shove it right against the trunks of trees and plants it can make them vulnerable to fungus, rot and insects. Leave a bit of space around the trunk.
Lawn clippings aren't good mulch until they're composted. They can be full of weed seeds and can block air and water.
Your sins continue below. How's the guilt going so far?
Especially for you gardeners
Our beautiful new Weekend section has a revamped garden section, with expert tips and tool suggestions. It's in this paper every Saturday.
It's good to work the soil with a spade or fork - but not when it's wet.
It will make the soil all sticky and remove the air and drainage than plants need in their soil.
Work your soil when it has had time to drain.
6 Latin lovers
Using Latin terms for plants just to impress is a waste of effort and plain annoying for those of us who call a spud a spud, not a Solanum tuberosum.
Save it for your next translation of Cicero's oratory.
7 Forgetting the fun
Gardening is supposed to be a fulfilling, peaceful activity.
A little frustration can add to a challenge, and everyone knows that some plants just refuse to survive.
But if the garden is driving you mad or has become a chore, you might want to consider taking up another hobby.
Maybe you could try collecting something that's harder to kill. Like igneous rocks.