Efficient Gardening: Where to Spend Your Time & Money

In today’s busy world it can be tough to keep up with a garden. Those with hectic family and work lives may find it difficult to grow even a small vegetable patch. While you can’t have a garden without any work at all these tips can help you spend your time and money efficiently.

Time

If you only have an hour per week to dedicate to your garden try to break it up over the week. Spending a few minutes each day keeping up with weeds while they’re small and harvesting what’s ready each day is more effective than a larger chunk of time one day per week. Tending to your garden throughout the week also allows you to monitor and stay on top of any pest and disease issues.

If you’re really pressed for time but still want to grow some of your own food consider crops that are low maintanence. For example green beans are easy to grow but require you to harvest nearly every day during their season. If you don’t have the time you could instead use the space to plant dry beans, flour corn, or winter squash which only require a one time harvest.

Try different methods of preservation and find one that works best for you. Don’t feel like breaking out the pressure canner? Try pickling, fermenting, dehydrating, or freezing a crop.

Alternatively plant small successions of crops so you never have more than you can use fresh or things that can be stored without preserving like winter squash, garlic, onions, and potatoes.

Spending time mulching your garden at the beginning of the season can save you from spending as much time weeding later. You can also try cover crops for preventing weeds.

Mulch Ado…

You should also trellis crops that need it at the begginning of the year. Having better and easier harvests is worth the effort upfront.

Money

Plant perennials. Hardy perennials like chives, mint, walking onions, rhubarb, and aspargus provide food year after year with little effort.

Invest in a few quality pieces of time saving equipment. Your tool shed doesn’t need to look like you’re a market gardener but you should have a few good tools to help you make the most of your time. I’ve found that a push seeder and stirrup hoe or wheel hoe (depending on your garden size) are worth the money for the amount of time they save.

Another piece you may consider investing in is drip irrigation especially if you pay for or have limited water. It requires time and money during the beginning of season to get it set up but then makes watering a breeze. It also saves water.

Buying good quality seeds or starts is also important. You should look for seeds and plants that are well suited to your needs and climate. If you’re growing your own starts doing it properly to ensure you get healthy starts is of course worth the time and money. Check out our seed starting guide for advice.

Finally to save both time and money consider sharing your garden with a friend or neighbor. As the saying goes, many hands make light work!

The Potager Garden

A potager or kitchen garden is essentially just a backyard, family, garden. However they typically include a mixture of vegetables, herbs, and ornamental plants. While tidy rows may be the most practical for a market gardener you don’t necessarily have to go that route for a kitchen garden. Picture cabbages, chard, and thyme tucked in between rose daffodils and roses. They’re the ultimate blend of practicality and beauty.

Benefits of a Potager

  • Including a blend of different plants helps make potagers pest and disease resistant.
  • They’re gorgeous! Potager gardens aim to nourish both body and soul.
  • You can make the most of a small space. They don’t need a specific size or layout, just work with what you’ve got.
  • They’re easy to maintain because they often shade out weeds once the season gets going and quite often contain hardy perennials.
  • They help attract pollinators, birds, and beneficial insects. Having a variety of plants and structure makes your garden more appealing to these wonderful creatures.

Design

Making a potager of your own is quite simple. If it’s an option you probably want it located close to your house so you have easy access for harvest and enjoyment. Then you can simply start adding your favorite plants!

For an interesting look it’s a good idea to blend plants of different heights, colors, and textures. You can also add texture by adding wood or stone raised beds, old iron gates, trellises, terracotta pots and other gardening materials.

Adding Perennials

You may also want to add a variety of perennials. Just keep in mind that some perennials like mint and lemon balm can spread easily and take over entire beds when left unchecked. Fruit like strawberries, raspberries, and currants are great additions. There’s nothing like walting through your garden and enjoying a few freshly picked berries! If you have enough space you can even add fruit trees. You can choose dwarf varieties or espalier (train a tree to a fence or wall) a tree to save space.

Permantent Features

Another important feature of most potagers is permanent pathways. This allows you to easily stroll through your garden and harvest and enjoy your plants. Permanent pathways also keeps you from having to stand in actual growing areas and compacting the soil.

You may also want to consider adding a picnic table or some seating to you potager. Homegrown meals are extra special when enjoying amongst the flowers.

Large gardens filled with rows of vegetable crops certaintly are productive and have their place. However you shouldn’t forget that part of the reason to have a garden is simply to enjoy it. Creating a potager close to your home can help you grow and eat more vegetables and give you a lovely place to relax.

10 Reasons to Grow Thyme

German Winter Thyme

Thyme certainly isn’t the most popular herb in backyard gardens but we’re stumped as to why! This little plant has a lot of great things going for it. Check out some of thyme’s benefits to learn more about why it deserves a spot in your garden.

Thyme has medicinal properties.

Thyme may be generally thought of as a culinary herb but it also as a long history of medicinal use. It is primarily used to treat lung and throat issues like colds, coughs, and sore throats. It’s an excellent ingredient for homemade cough drops, soothing teas, and gargles. Thyme can also be used for soothing for upset stomachs.

It’s a hardy perennial.

It’s a hardy perennial. At SESE we offer three varieties of thyme. German Winter Thyme and Creeping Thyme are hardy in zones 4-10 and Summer Thyme is hardy in zones 6-9. If you’d like a low maintenance garden it should definitely be on your list.

Thyme can be started from seed.

While many perennials can be a bit tricky to get going from seed thyme is actually quite easy. It can be started indoors with other garden plants like tomatoes and peppers and set out after the danger of frosts have passed in the spring. It may take a little while to get going but not having to buy transplants may be worth the wait.

It’s delicious.

In the kitchen, thyme is incredible versatile. It can be used in sweets like shortbread cookies or savory dishes like sauces, meats, and beans.

Thyme is beautiful.

Creeping Thyme

Thyme plants a truly beautiful and different varieties offer a plant perfect for every garden. German winter thyme is shrubby and upright while summer thyme is a bit smaller. Creeping thyme is a vining plant that creates an excellent ground cover for rock and herb gardens. Even though they have different appearances all three can be used as culinary or medicinal herbs.

It attracts beneficial insects.

Thyme’s little flowers attract a variety of beneficial insects including native pollinators, honeybees, and predatory wasps.

Thyme makes an excellent companion plant.

It can be planted in with cabbage, potatoes, eggplant, and strawberries. It’s thought that it repels cabbage worms, flea beetles, and tomato hornworms.

It’s good for you.

In case you needed a reason besides its wonderful flavor to add thyme to your recipes thyme is very nutritious. It’s high in iron and antioxidants.

Thyme will tolerate shade.

If you have an area of your garden that’s get’s too much shade to be an excellent vegetable patch you might want to add some creeping thyme. It will do fine in areas that are fairly shady.

It doesn’t need much water.

While you need to water your thyme plants while they’re getting established once they’re mature these Mediterranean plants require very little water. They’re perfect for water conscious gardeners or those in drought-prone areas.

If you’re planning your garden for next year you may want to add thyme to your list! These are just a few of the many reasons this wonderful herb deserves a spot in your garden. What’s your favorite thing about thyme?

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Saving the Past for the Future