One of the biggest obstacles to planting a garden I hear in talking with people is how to make time for a garden. I get it. Time is short already; how does one squeeze in another project?
Sure, gardening can be time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be. By following these principles, you CAN have your garden and eat it, too.
The biggest beginning gardening mistake I see is when we try to plant more than we can keep up with. In the spring, it’s easy to do the labor when weeds are growing slowly and the heat isn’t unbearable. We also have the motivation that naturally comes with new beginnings. But come July, keeping up with weeding, fighting insects and disease, and watering can quickly overwhelm us.
If it’s your first year, plant one or two raised beds. Or a small in-ground garden. You can always expand next year, or even expand for a fall garden. By starting small, you get an idea how much time gardening takes and you can adjust next year.
Set Aside Time
It’s easy to take a Saturday in April or May to plant a garden, but after everything is in the ground, you must make time for maintenance and eventually harvest. I prefer to set aside small chunks of time in the morning and/or evenings (when it is less hot) about four days per week. Even with my 2000+ square foot garden, I can usually keep up with it in 1-2 hours per day. If you only have a couple of raised beds, your time spent will only be a fraction of that.
If gardening a little bit every day isn’t a possibility for your schedule, set aside a few hours each week. Mark it on your calendar if you must. Just be sure and plan for it.
Make it a Family Activity
Children as young as 2 can place a seed in a trench or pull weeds. You’d be amazed at how much more work can be accomplished when kids help. It may take a bit of coaxing but they will learn valuable garden lessons and enjoy it as well! When my children were 8 and 4, they planted their own raised beds.
Use the Most Efficient Tools
The two tasks gardeners spend the most time on are watering and weeding.
To prevent hours watering my garden, I installed a drip irrigation system with a timer. By spending a few hours (okay, my husband spent a few hours) laying down the drip line, I no longer have to water my garden.
Weeding my garden by hand took up hours of unnecessary time. But once I bought my Rogue Hoe, I cut my weeding time dramatically. This one tool has helped me prepare beds for planting and clear overgrown areas fast and easy.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
Speaking of weeding, you will do yourself a favor if you can avoid most of it altogether, and the single best way to do this is to mulch your garden. By covering your ground after planting with a thick layer of mulch, you will cut the time spent in the garden dramatically.
Write Down Your Goals
It has been said that we make time for what is important to us. Before you begin gardening, set goals you want to accomplish this year. It may be as simple as “having fresh tomatoes all summer” or more complex like, “growing enough of these seven foods to last all year.” By writing down your goals, and keeping them within sight, you’ll be more likely to carve out time to devote to your garden tasks.
Start Early in the Season
To make the most of your time, planning ahead is key. By the time the weather warms, you should have your garden plan drawn out, raised beds built, seeds bought, and tools acquired.
By having a plan and major tasks already done, you can make the most of your time during the gardening season. (Click here to learn more about my online course, the Beginner’s Garden Shortcut, to help you start planning your next garden!)
Yes, there’s no way around it. Gardening takes time. But anything worth doing takes time, and it’s worth it to make time for a garden! You’ll find gardening to be worth every minute as long as you use these methods to help you along, especially if you’re just beginning. So whether you plant one raised bed or a whole garden plot, I hope these tips will help you to spend your time wisely so you can truly enjoy your time in the garden and enjoying what it produces for you.
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