On the homestead in my dreams I have a huge garden with tons fruit trees, vegetable beds, herbs and flowers but lets face it…I ain’t got time for that.
We work full time (plus a little more) and just don’t have the time to devote to a big garden. I’ve had to cut corners and figure out how to grow the things we need the easiest way possible.
At first, only grow what you actually need. Yes flowers are pretty but (mostly) you don’t eat them. I narrowed down our list to the fruits and vegetables that I knew we would use and use often. I started with tomatoes, peppers, and a few herbs. Once you’ve gotten the hang of growing those and it becomes easy for you then, go ahead and add to the list. After 4 years of gardening my list right now looks like this:
Corn, peas, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, pumpkins, plus blackberry bushes and potted herbs.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with how you grow them. As I said before, I want to grow things in the easiest way possible. We figured out that potatoes can be grown in 5 gallon buckets. This cuts way down on the amount of time you spend hilling them (just chuck a little extra dirt in the bucket every few days) and it makes harvesting a breeze. I also grow all my herbs in big flower pots, that way I can move them around and even bring them inside and use them through out the year.
Most of my vegetables are grown in raised beds which are easier to “put to bed” at the end of the season and to get prepped at the beginning. A simple pile of compost and wood chips (thank you chickens and wood splitter) spread over the top of them gets them ready for winter and then come spring I just use a shovel to mix them up a little bit and I’m ready to go.
The other way we save time is to keep the tools that we use close to the garden. Valuable time is saved when I don’t have to walk all over the place trying to find a shovel or a watering can. I keep the shovel and a bucket along side the garden and the watering can right next to the hose. It may not sound like a big deal but every little thing that can make it easier is worth it to me.
If you want to start gardening but want to take it slow, try a small container garden. Strawberries, cherry tomatoes and herbs of all kinds grow really well in large pots. You can keep them right on a balcony or front steps and be able to water them and harvest as you walk in the door at night.
Do you garden? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions!