If you live in the South, you should already have planted your garden. Northerners can wait until June for more cold sensitive plants.
• This is the fun part. Think about what you like to eat or flowers you like to see on your table. What fruits and vegetables do you regularly buy at the store? What’s your favorite, but most expensive herb or veggie at the supermarket? What’s the prettiest flower you hardly ever get see?
• Make a list.
• Research what will grow best in your climate or season.
• Draw a garden plot showing where all your plants will live for the season. Here’s mine.
• Turn over your soil, breaking up any early weeds.
• Add compost, peat moss, or more soil as needed. (It always needs it.)
The Lazy Way
Get your kids to do this part or hire a neighbor kid if you are kid-less. I am not above using child labor. Nothing hurts on them. Everything hurts on me.
Pay blood money accordingly. It’s only a few hours work depending on the size of your garden. It’s worth it to get someone else to do the hard stuff. 🙂
How do you plan to water? If you’re hand watering, carry on. If you’re lazy, contract or put in your own drip irrigation system–the best and most efficient in my opinion. I used to spend eight hours a week watering by hand. Irrigation is paramount to the lazy gardener. It gave me back a whole day to do other stuff, like write this blog post.
Prepping for Seeds and Seedlings
• Seeds should be started 6-8 weeks before you put them in the ground. You can move them earlier if the weather is warm and their stems are sturdy.
• Wrap the base of your seedling in an inch high strip of aluminum foil. Every year the cut worms find my bedding plants, but I foil them with…well, foil.
• Once the soil has been prepped, cover it with a weed barrier. Barrier cloth, newspapers, cardboard, or wood chips all make good weed deterrents.
In this photo, I used a rubber mat roll in 25 foot sections. These are usually used for horse stables or industrial use, but I’ve found this is the most durable and user friendly weed barrier for walkways. You can’t use them inside your planting area. For that, I recommend either deep leaf litter or weed barrier fabric.
Note: Rubber mats are not cheap, but they also don’t have to be replaced year after year.
• Plant your bedding plants or sow seeds directly.
• Mark your plants. Just do it. You know you won’t remember if you planted bell peppers or jalapeno peppers in that spot.
Don’t have garden space?
• This year invest in some nice big pots for your balcony, doorway, or front yard.
• For apartment dwellers, look for a sunny window or just outside your door.
• Nice pots make all the difference. It makes you want to put pretty things out.
Good container candidates
• Almost any herb: basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley
• For your sanity, always grow any mint in pots. They’re invasive and will take over your garden.
• Strawberries (especially pretty in hanging baskets)
• Any pepper
• Eggplants are exceptionally pretty in pots
• I’ve grown potatoes in pots (even in the winter). Just make sure it’s a deep pot.
The only thing to bear in mind with container gardening is that you have to be diligent about watering. A little liquid fertilizer helps too.
If you’re lazy as well as cheap, this is what I do to save money.
• Buy or beg flower pots from garage sales or your sister’s driveway. I always buy these used. Pots are terribly expensive new.
• If you EVER see workmen cutting branches and chipping them on the spot, ask them if they can dump their load in your yard. Wood chips are the absolute best source of mulch. If you don’t live far, I’m willing to bet they will give you all you want for free.
• Don’t ignore flowers on clearance or free. Even if they look homely, you’d be surprised what fresh dirt, a bigger pot and a leaf trim will do to bring it back to life.
• If you shop the farmers’ market, you can plant the seeds from fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Also, regrow veggies, like green onions, celery, and lettuce. Just take the root stalk, trim and stick them in the ground.
The only thing I will pay top dollar for are my gardening tools. You don’t need every single tool out there, but whatever you buy, get the most ergonomic and quality tool you can afford. Believe me, it’s worth it!
Vegetable gardening makes you feel like a noble human being. Plus, it feeds you. What will you grow this year?