The Superbowl is over and Valentine’s has passed. We are finally in the last stretch of Winter! What better way to make it go by faster than to plan out your Spring garden!
Before you give any excuses as to why not, hear me out. It is possible to work full-time and still be able to grow your food! How? By understanding that you do not have to do all the things to have a garden. You can be creative in a small space which will allow you to be successful with a little bit of time and planning.
What to grow?
Here is where you need to do some soul searching. You see, I have been there. I look at all of the seed catalogs and I want it all. I want to grow every last bit of what I see. But I know it’s not possible. I cannot work full-time out of the home and grow 5 different green beans and twenty varieties of tomatoes. It’s not realistic.
Here a few questions to ask yourself:
- Which ones will do well in the space I have? Remember, the larger the space, the more work to upkeep. Only you can decide what is your level of reasonable.
- Which ones will I and my family like to eat? If you do not like wax beans, do not grow them. Reserve your energy for the vegetables all of your family will love.
- Think about their timeline of growing and try to stagger the harvests. When you are limited with time, you will have a better experience if things ripen at various times. You may get overwhelmed by picking, processing and storing large amounts of tomatoes and cucumbers when they all ripen at the same time.
- What do you like to eat on a daily or weekly basis? I get a lot of satisfaction at being able to make a salad fresh from the garden. It is an amazing time saver to just pick it out of your backyard. It truly streamlines the farm to table process. Not to mention, it also saves money.
- What do your local farms grow? If you have a local farm who grows your favorite variety of Roma tomatoes, then let them continue to be your supplier. Grow a different variety like cherry tomatoes or a type of slicing tomato.
- Do you have to grow veggies? Not at all! You can look at herbs and flowers too! Herbs are suited very well for small spaces and low maintenance. Flowers can be too! You just need to pick the right ones. One tip for beautiful flowers has been to grow a meadow!
- That’s right – a meadow! We simply chose a very sunny spot, spread out some meadow seed and let it go. We replanted after 2 weeks and we had a prolific amount of flowers. See title picture for a shot of some of the beautiful flowers. Because they were wild flowers, they tolerated dry spells and lots of sun.
Where to grow a garden?
Gardens are not just for planting in the ground. Quite frankly, this can be one of the more labor and time intensive ways to grow a garden. Tilling the soil and amending the soil are laborious. This is not necessarily the best route when limited on time.
I realize that this may be off-putting to some but when you work full time you need to be able to dial it down to a manageable space. That’s where containers and raised beds come in handy.
Raised beds are great for growing many types of vegetables. As long as you make them at least 12″ deep and with good drainage, you will have success. You can either build the beds from scratch or purchase kits.
Once you build the beds, you can have the soil delivered. Purchase soil with a lot of organic material to feed the roots. Many garden centers have great garden soil available for bulk purchase. With raised beds, you can have a full garden up in a day!
Another way to grow your own is to utilize containers. There are a variety of containers for purchase which will accommodate many sized plants. You can finds these at the stores but also listed on various yard sale websites. You can even utilize hanging baskets for some smaller veggies and herbs. There are many varieties of plants specifically bred for container gardening.
Also, when it comes to container gardening, think outside the box (or container). Last year, we made a green bean tee pee in a large pickle container cut in half. We got this free from someone online. We re-purposed some beer kegs to grow our herbs. For our jalapenos, we used the collection canister of a broken shop vac. Yes, you read that right. A broken shop vac. Seriously, it was brilliant. I have to give my husband credit for this one. It was super deep and it had wheels so we could move it when we needed to get it more sunlight.
The Importance of Mulching
Regardless of your garden selection, one thing you need to remember is to mulch. Regardless if you plant in the ground, in a raised bed or a container mulching has many benefits to help decrease your workload.
First, applying 6-8 inches of mulch will help slow water loss due to evaporation. So when you run out the door and forget to water the garden before work, rest assured the mulch will buy you some time until you get home.
Second, mulching will help decrease the amount of weeds that will grow. Additionally, the weeds that will grow, are much easier to remove as they do not have strong root holds on the soil. The last thing I want to do is to pick weeds when I get home. Mulching helps me not have to do it as often!
Third, mulching slowly breaks down over time thereby releasing its nutrients into the soil. Organic mulch like leaves, straw and compost are some great examples of mulch that will help fertilize the plants.
Get to Growing!
I hope you take away some great inspiration from this and realize that it is possible to have time for a garden while working full time. You just need to be reasonable about what you can grow and be smart about how you will do it!