Tag Archives: backyard garden

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.

How to Make Money From Your Backyard Garden

Thankfully gardening is a relatively cheap hobby. In fact it can save you money, hello free produce, flowers, and herbs! Plus there’s no need to pay for a gym membership when you’ve got loads of weeding to do, am I right? That being said it’s absolutely a big commitment of time and effort. If you want your garden to do more for you can learn to market some of your backyard garden products.

This is not a guide to starting a farm and earning a full-time income. That, is way more involved than one post could ever hope to be. However using a couple of these ideas you can earn a little extra cash. Maybe you can use to buy seeds next year or that wheel hoe you’ve always wanted.

Start extra seeds.

If you start your own plants from seed during the spring try starting a few extra to offer for sale to local gardeners. Plant starts are really expensive even at the big box stores and unless you have a big greenhouse in your area it’s often hard to find much variety. If you have the best heirloom tomato starts in town let people know! Talk to friends and neighbors or post a few flyers.

Small co-ops/health food stores.

While your backyard garden may never be big enough to sell wholesale to your local grocery store you may find a nearby health food store or food co-op that will take some produce off your hands. These stores generally require a less consistent product and supply and may be willing to work with your restrictions. It never hurts to ask.

Set up a roadside stand.

Roadside stands can be as simple as a table and some baskets. If you’ve got kids this may be a great opportunity in lieu of a lemonade stand. If you’re not on a road with a high volume of traffic you may want to set up elsewhere. Some businesses allow people to set up a table with produce in their parking lot, just ask around.

For both options it’s good to check on things like zoning laws and local “peddler’s laws” before setting up shop.

Rent a booth at your local farmer’s market.

Farmer’s markets can be one of the best places to sell produce and other garden products because that’s what people are going there to buy. However there’s several things worth noting about farmer’s markets before you count on them to increase your payday. First most farmer’s markets have a fee and many now require sellers to carry liability insurance, a cost your gardening side business may not be able to afford. On top of that you need to consider the cost of fuel to get you to and from the market.

Second at larger farmer’s markets you’ll be competing with growers who spend their lives doing this. Customers are more likely to spend their dollars at booths with beautiful displays and loads of produce. At larger markets you’ll need something special to stand out. Check out your local farmer’s market before renting a booth for the season.

Third because farmer’s markets are better for everyone involved if there’s reliable vendors, markets generally require commitment for the entire season. You’ll have to dedicate a lot of time to the market itself plus set-up and tear-down, travel, and market prep.

Attend local sales.

If farmer’s markets don’t work out you may find some local sale events that will work well for your products. You may find some church, craft, or local artisan sales that will accept your products and are easier to handle than committing to a farmer’s market.

Try opening an Etsy shop.

Blue Clarage Dent Corn

While you may not be able to sell fresh produce online there’s plenty of garden products you can. Think about things that keep well like seeds, popcorn or flint/dent corn, potatoes, onions, garlic, dried herbs or flours. Herbs especially can be grown and dried for teas or you can grow plants like Dyer’s Coreopsis which can be sold to fiber artists.

If you’re not a fan of Etsy you could try your hand at making your own website or using a site like Facebook’s sale groups, Ebay, or Craigslist.

Sell garden amendments.

If you’ve been an avid gardener for years chances are you know how to make a few of your own garden amendments. Whether it’s compost tea kits, worm castings from your awesome vermicompost set up, bio-char, or bags of compost try selling some of your homemade garden improvements.

**Additional Tips**

  • Wherever and whatever you decide to sell be sure to check on any regulations before offering your product. Things like local food laws, zoning regulations, and organic standards are all important to look into.
  • Build a network. Especially for a small producer the best way to make sales is to get to know your neighbors. You may find people that have always wanted a place to buy really hot peppers or realize you have a neighbor that loves kohlrabi. People won’t buy from you if they don’t know you’re selling!
  • Keep it fun. Unless you intend become a full-time farmer this side gig isn’t meant to be stressful. If it takes all the joy out of gardening it may be wise to scale back.

For most people gardening is either a hobby or a profession but there’s no rule that says your backyard garden can’t make you money. If it’s something you love and are working hard at anyway selling your garden products can be a great way to bring in extra cash.

How do you make money from your garden? Did we miss any great ideas? Let us know.