last year, i toiled. i toiled so hard for my garden. i was 8 months pregnant in my bathing suit and husbands gym shorts moving around on a beach towel pulling weeds for hours and hours. when otto was born and we spent 9 days in the NICU my garden just went to…. weed. it was beyond repair by the time we got home. not to mention i had zero energy to pull weeds.
this year i vowed to be different. i vowed to be smarter. you know, that whole work smarter not harder mentality? joe and i spent this spring laying the foundation for a good low maintenance garden. two saturdays of super hard work have paid off and i’m excited to share with you how i get to enjoy morning and evening walks through the garden and relaxing instead of pulling weeds.
- raised garden beds. they require a bit of up front work (building and filling etc) but it has made me be able to weed in quadrants throughout the week. i take 5 minutes to weed bed 1 and 2, then 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8 and relax the rest of the time. i also use the japanese weeding tool from terrain to make it go that much faster. i’m not kidding you this tool has been a total game changer. having raised beds also forces you to be a bit selective. I have a tendency to over order seeds and part of my problem last year was a garden filled with just too much. i don’t need an entire row of amaranth. just 4 plants are good. and they fit snuggly at the end of my beds.
- weed tarp. i purchased this weed tarp based on the suggestions of floret.com. and it has been about 10 minutes of maitenence a week just from keeping the holes weeded out. no matter how small or large you burn the holes for your plants milk week or some other nasty thing tries to creep in and choke out your flowers and veggies. but instead of weeding row after row i just quick walk up and down the rows picking out weeds before they get a chance to go to seed. this takes me about 10 – 15 minutes a week to weed out my rows.
- irrigation. i purchased about $100 in irrigation supplies from menards. i bought a timer, hose split, and four irrigation sprinkler kits. my garden gets watered 2 times a day and i do nothing with the exception of spending 45 minutes putting the kit together. i have one large sprinkler for the garden beds and three irrigation kits for the weed tarp rows. we have gone a solid 20 days of no rain and my garden is as green as ever. The kits i bought are sold out but these are basically the same. with this timer. and this split.
- gravel. i wanted forever to have my paths filled with gravel to keep my beds nice and trimmed. joe and i finally spent one entire saturday filling these paths with 10 yards of gravel. it wasn’t cheap (about $450) but it will hopefully last a few years. we also put in a fire pit so we can sit out and enjoy the garden.
- pest control. i haven’t been able to get my japanese beetle issue quite under control yet but the neem oil is definitely helping. i also keep rabbits and small rodents away with a bunch of marigolds. I was struggling for a while getting my eggplant established due to some small teeny poppyseed bug and a friend from garden club suggested basil and it seems to have worked!
some other great resources are growveg.com and rareseeds.com. i buy all my seeds from rareseeds and usually have 100% success rate with germination. Growveg.com is a great resource for helping plan out spacing and companion planting. each year i learn something new and different. it’s making small changes year after year that helps you evolve and improve your garden without being overwhelmed. start smalls and see what grows well. i do not grow any peppers except jalapenos because nothing else works for me. however tomatoes grow like trees in my soil. it’s a lot of trial and error but once you figure out what works it’s like striking gold! what tips and tricks do you have for keeping your garden low maintenance?6