Easy Garden Plans

Are you a lazy gardener? Simplify garden chores and prep this spring with these tips and ideas.

| January/February 2017

  • Woman Gardening
    Plant low-maintenance, high yield plants for a drama-free, productive garden.
    Photo by iStock
  • Flower Beds
    Lettuces are ideal for container gardening.
    Photo by iStock
  • Family Garden
    Family of four gardening together with baby outdoors.
    Photo by iStock

  • Woman Gardening
  • Flower Beds
  • Family Garden

Gardening is a great way to enjoy the benefits of healthy, fresh food and avoid the impacts of industrial agriculture. Yet, some days it’s hard enough just to keep up with the kids, job and house cleaning. With all we have going on, we can get discouraged with growing food, especially if the effort put in doesn’t pay off at harvest time. In these moments we might question if sustainable and simple are at odds with each other.

As an avid gardener for 20 years, I’ve learned a few tricks to keep the task simple, but gardening can still overwhelm my schedule throughout the growing season. Recently I picked up a few new tricks from experienced gardeners with full lives who keep low-maintenance gardens that still provide ample harvests. Turns out, gardening doesn’t have to be another chore that saps your time without giving much in return. Simplify your garden with these basic tips, and enjoy the upcoming warm seasons to their fullest.

1. Plant fewer types of crops but more of them.

While biodiversity is good, having too many varieties, each with different needs, can complicate things when we are working to keep them all happy. Narrow down what you grow to the handful of crops you eat most and have had success growing, and grow lots of those. They will have the same requirements, so you can tend to them all at once. Preserve the abundance for winter. Skip specialty items or foods you can typically find for good prices at your farmers market, such as onions and potatoes.

2. Focus on perennials and landscaping.

Perennials, those wonderful plants that come back each year with minimal extra care, allow you to fill your yard with food. Plant fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, and crops such as asparagus and strawberries that will feed you for many years.

3. Skip starting your own seeds.

Starting from seed is a great way to save money gardening, but if your top priority is to save time, this is one activity you can cut out. Buy organically grown starts from a nursery or local seedling sale. Or, cut down on the work by planning with a friend which seedlings you will each grow and trade. You don’t have to grow them all.

4. Minimize watering.

Hand-watering a garden can take up a lot of time and energy. Use your resources wisely and invest in drip irrigation with a timer. As long as you keep the system in good repair, the watering will be done for you.

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