Maximize Your Time with a Low-Maintenance Garden

The Bottle Garden at Rotary Shelter House is going strong! Innovative ideas helping feed people.
The Bottle Garden at Rotary Shelter House is going strong! Innovative ideas helping feed people.

THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Summer is the time for amazing adventures and social soirees. Between camping trips, neighbourhood BBQs, spending time at camp, beach volleyball leagues and perhaps a day or two at work, it always seems like there isn’t a spare minute in the day. For many, this means no time to maintain a vegetable garden, and delicious home-grown veggies have to be sacrificed.

Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case! Having a garden and maximizing the summer season can be a reality. How? By growing a low-maintenance garden

Erin Beagle from Roots to Harvest has shared four easy ways to plant an undemanding garden, simplify an existing garden, and gardening routine.

  1. Plant vegetables that mature in the late summer or the beginning of fall. Examples include potatoes, beets, cabbage, parsnips, squash, pumpkins, turnips, carrots, and onions. This means you can spend the peak of the summer out enjoying your favourite activities.
  2. Build a garden that is a manageable size. Start small, and as your comfort with gardening increases, add a bit more each year. Using raised beds is very effective because of the cooler climate in Northwestern Ontario. Aim to keep the width of these gardens around 4 feet so it is easy to reach all of the plants.
  3. Spread mulch on the bare soil in your garden to reduce weeds. Simple mulches to use include leaves (should be shredded), grass clippings, or peat moss. When you do have time to enjoy in your garden, take a few minutes to weed. This will ensure the weeds don’t have a chance to set roots, making it more difficult to weed down the road.
  4. Set up an irrigation method. Then you don’t need to be around every day and it significantly reduces the amount of time that needs to be spent on the garden. Some options include drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or sprinklers. Drip irrigation systems use in-line drip tubing, which have emitters spaced out where you would like them, while soaker hoses emit water along the entire length of the hose. For even more ease, ‘controllers’ can be added to the hose tap to either turn off the tap automatically, or with more elaborate models, turn the tap on and off on a timer.

Beagle is quick to note that, “with a little bit of planning, even the summer vacationers can come back to a healthy and productive vegetable garden, and then enjoy the harvest’s bounty.”

By Julia Bailey

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