Tips For The Idle Gardener
Most people think that having a garden is a lot of work. Yes, it can be if your not organized. It’s not just about going outside, planting a plant in the ground, watering it and thinking it will grow. That will only lead to failure, then, before long discouragement sets in because the plant will eventually die. To be an idle gardener takes some organization, but, once organized, there is little to do but reap the bounty. So let’s discuss how to go about getting organized!
Getting organized is probably one of the best kept secrets idle gardeners have. This is the reason why they enjoy it so much. Organization means not having to be a slave to the garden. Most of the work a seasoned gardener does is sitting in their recliner doodling the layout of what plants should go where, what jobs need to be done in which season and how to time out regular maintenance. Looking through seed catalogs, deciding which plants need more sun, which need shade and where they should go is all done in the comfort of your cozy home.
So let’s get started. What do you want out of your little corner of the world? Do you want plants to eat? Flowers to cut and bring inside? Do you want trees for shade or shrubs that bloom? How about bulbs or containers? Maybe you want a little of everything! This is the time to decide. Don’t go overboard at first, it’s better to start small and work your way up to something bigger. You don’t want to be overwhelmed and start to feel like your little piece of heaven is more like, well, you know…
There are places in your town that can help you out if you think you need it. Try looking up your neighborhood Agricultural Extension Agent, this is where you can get some general questions answered, literature and guidance. They will also know what kind of trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables grow best in your area depending on your climate and soil conditions. You can also call the County Forester for information on trees to plant or how to maintain the ones you already have. The Soil Conservation Service can educate you on the local soil, helping you make better decisions about how to use your land.
Plotting & Planning
Okay, now that all that’s out of the way, let’s talk about plot planning! The best way to make sure you won’t have to work so hard in the garden is to plan out what goes where. It is soooo much easier to lay it out on paper first. The easiest way to draw it out is to use tracing pads of graph paper, these are usually available in the stationary section of your local store or you can order them online. There are also apps you can download that will help you stay organized and even alert you when it’s time to water, fertilize and harvest. Also Heirloom-Organics has a growing guide that will help you make better informed decisions about what to plant, where to plant and how to properly maintain your plants. They also have many different kinds of seed packs to save you money!
Crop rotation is a very important aspect to gardening. By using the tracing paper you can overlay this year’s vegetable garden on last year’s to easily plan your crop rotations. Make sure to write down the variety your planting and when you plant it. By planning in this way you ensure your plants are properly spaced and it makes it easier to calculate how much seed to buy. If flowers are your thing, knowing where you planted your bulbs is very important, because once they die off, you won’t want to dig them up by accident. You can even use colored pencils to show what colors you want where. Keep an eye out for any changes you may want to make during the season, then jot them down, this will make next years planning even easier!
It’s All About Routine
Now that you have your plan on what & where to plant you will want to schedule in a routine. Get a notebook with dividers and label each section by the month. For instance:
The loose leaf format makes it simple to add or change information. Just leave it on the kitchen counter to safe time. It will save you from having to flip through books looking for the information you need or the frustration of trying to remember what to do.
Having a plan makes strolling around your garden so much more fun. Grab your garden shears or knife and as you savor the sights you can snip of dead branches or bl0oms or even pull weeds to keep them under control.
If your garden is large you might want to time yourself on how long you stay in one area. Say, maybe, a half an hour in the veggie garden, then, another half hour on trimming bushes etc….
There will be many times when you go out to the garden, then realize you forgot something; ball of twine, shears, trowel or notebook. A perfect solution is to put a post in the corner of your yard with a mailbox on it. You will never have to worry about forgetting anything again. It’s a great place to put all your small garden tools, pad, pencil & twine. You know it IS all about being lazy!
This should give you a lot to think about. You have some research to do, some plotting, some planning and some figuring. The trick to being an idle gardener is to do all the hard work from the comfort of the couch. Most of the battle is done with pencil and paper in hand, coming up with a good plan.
***Stay tuned, because my next garden post will be about: The best spots for a veggie garden, how to lay it out, saving time by saving space, the pro’s & con’s of raised beds and rows vs squares. Until then….
You can find much more information about individual plants from our gardening pro: