22 Smart tips to save time & effort in the garden including ways to reduce time watering, weeding and digging #gardeningtips #vegetablegarden #gardening
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The Lazy Gardener: 22 smart tips to save time & effort in the garden

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Successful gardening is about being smart with your time and energy. Use these ways to grow an abundant garden while reducing time spent watering, weeding and digging

My name is Tanya and I’m a lazy gardener. I want to have it all — lush harvests of vegetables, fruit, flowers, and herbs for the smallest effort possible. I’m a busy person and if I have to be in the garden every day then I wouldn’t have time to have a YouTube channel, share ideas with you, or run a soap making business. Through the years I’ve found ways to cut down on both time and effort so that I CAN do it all.

More often than not, we waste time weeding, digging, and basically doing back-breaking work. What I’ve found is that being a lazy gardener is more about being smart and knowing tricks to create a fuss-free garden. One that’s both healthy and productive and that you can put your feet up sometimes and just enjoy. It’s achievable, but you need to set up your garden and work it in the right way. The below list of 22 time-saving gardening tips will help you on your way to becoming a more efficient green thumb.

22 Smart tips to save time & effort in the garden including ways to reduce time watering, weeding and digging #gardeningtips #vegetablegarden #gardening

Save time Weeding

Probably the number one most dreaded task in the garden. It’s best to do it little and often but what if you don’t have time to weed for 30 minutes every day?

  • Use black plastic and carpets to organically kill weeds. This is a great way to clear the land before starting a new garden.
  • Reduce weeding and increase yield by planting in double rows. That means sowing or planting in two rows close together so that the areas that you weed or walk are reduced.
  • Don’t grow in rows at all — broadcast sow seeds into beds and thin afterward. This works well for beets, carrots, lettuce, and some herbs
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch. Laying compost, straw, mushroom compost, or even newspaper over the ground between crops will keep weeds from growing. Some mulches are better for some regions than others so figure out which is cheapest and best for you.
  • Create garden beds using the no-dig method. Lay cardboard over the grass, pile compost in a deep layer on top, and plant directly into it. There’s a great book on no-dig that I highly recommend you read.
  • Use the False Seed Bed technique to eliminate weeds early in the season. Essentially, preparing a traditional seedbed, allowing weeds to germinate, then hoe them off before planting.
  • Create low maintenance paths between and around your garden beds. It’s as simple as laying a membrane or cardboard on the ground and piling wood chips on top.
  • Stop weeds from seeding, to begin with. Remove them before they set seed will save you so much time.
DIY Olla Watering Pots -- a low-tech solution that keeps plants watered in dry conditions. Also saves time and water #gardeningtips #diygarden
Ollas help keep plants watered and are a great water-saving method in the greenhouse and outdoor garden

Save time Watering plants

Modern fruits and vegetables are for the most part the real primadonnas of the plant world. They need a lot of nutrients and water but this could be an issue if you live in an area with reduced rainfall, hosepipe bans, or just very little time for watering.

  • Make and use ollas. They’re terracotta vessels that you sink into the ground and keep topped up with water. Plant roots can draw water from them directly since terracotta is porous.
  • Grow drought-tolerant vegetables and fruits. Many people aren’t aware that there are types of veg bred specifically for and in arid climates. You can use these to your advantage in the heat of summer or if you live in a similar climate.
  • Mulching not only reduces weeds but keeps the soil underneath moist. Spread it a few inches deep all around your plants but make sure it doesn’t cover the stems or trunks.
  • Only water the soil, not the leaves. A lot of people use sprinklers or manually water using a hose. If you use a gentle setting and water only the soil or compost under your plant, you save both time and water. Plants don’t drink through their leaves and in some cases, watering leaves can lead to fungus and disease.
  • Build a drip-irrigation system using hose pipes and an automatic timer. They reduce the amount of water you need for the garden plus do all the work for you.
  • Use self-watering planters to grow both vegetables and flowers. If you’re handy, you could even make one.
  • Going on vacation? Set potted plants inside a small pool filled with an inch of water and they’ll stay hydrated for up to a week. For house plants, use the tub or kitchen sink.
  • For even more water-saving tips, head over here

Reduce Digging

After weeding, digging is the task that most people would probably like to avoid. It’s back-breaking work and you can avoid having to do it at all if you follow some of these principles.

  • Use the no-dig (also called no-till ) method. As previously explained, you don’t dig the soil, but lay cardboard and compost on top. Worms do the digging for you.
  • Plant inside straw bales and there’s no soil required. With straw or hay bale gardening, you condition the bales in a way that they create a growing environment for plants inside. You can then place them in the garden, or on the patio or rooftop, and grow directly in them.
  • Grow your veg in a container garden. Most veg will happily grow in pots, planters, and large containers. I use a GreenStalk vertical planter to maximize vertical space, a medium Vegepod to create an elevated raised bed (if you want one, you can get a free winter cover with the code lovelygreens), and several other plastic, wood, and terracotta containers on my patio.
22 Smart tips to save time & effort in the garden including ways to reduce time watering, weeding and digging #gardeningtips #vegetablegarden #gardening
Be smart and design your growing area using permaculture principles. With zone 0 being your home, grow crops like lettuce and culinary herbs in zone 1.

More plants, less work

Sowing seeds, tending baby plants, and caring for maturing crops can be a lot of work. You can also waste a lot of seeds (money) and time thinning.

  • Grow easy vegetables and fruit. Some crops need a lot more care and attention but others practically grow on their own.
  • Add some self-seeding veggies to the garden. Have you ever had veg start growing on their own from your compost or in the garden? Sow once and some herbs and vegetables can come up year after year without having to re-seed.
  • Grow perennial crops. They’re not only hardy but only need one planting for them to re-grow every year
  • Keep crops that you want to harvest on the go close to your home. It’s smart to grow lettuces, greens, and herbs in a convenient place that you don’t have to trek to.
  • Sow seeds in modules, then plant out when they’re at a good size. This avoids seed waste, slugs eating your tiny seedlings, and saves you time in thinning rows out.

Being Lazy is about enjoying life and your garden

For many people, gardening is about enjoyment and a passion for growing green things. Being a lazy gardener is about reducing your workload so that you can get the biggest yield for the lowest effort. That way you can also have more time to enjoy being in the garden, rather than slaving away in it. Here are some more tips that you’ll find useful for your home vegetable garden:

7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    If you’re beginning, I recommend “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew. It’s a book, like on paper and everything, but is available in e-book form.

    Anyway, it’s a good place to start. The guy gets preachy and stuff about you advertising for him, but the book is full of good information you know you need to know along with stuff you don’t know you needed to know.

    It’s an easy read and a great place to start. After that, I usually Google the plant name and my closest agricultural school (for example “tomatoes NCSU” and I’ll usually have a PDF with information specific to that crop and my area.

  2. The best time saver I found was combining no dig mulching with two rounds of hoeing and raking in early spring to kill off the annual weeds in the new mulch. Then I use a great little tool called a Nunki Weeder which is small enough to use between rows of vegetables through spring, summer and early autumn: I do no more than 30 minutes weeding/surface hoeing a week and there are very few summer weeds as a result.

  3. Hi Tanya – you seem to speak directly to me with each article I read! I started reading your posts about soapmaking which I absolutely adore and now I’m ready to become a lazy gardener. I’m entralled with your posts! Thank you

    1. I’m ready to become a lazy gardener too! Tomorrow (if the weather permits) I’ll be spending a day slogging at my allotment garden. Hopefully with enough work put into it early in the year, I’ll be able to manage it with less time later. Really nice to hear from you Beth and hope you enjoy the rest of my posts too :)

  4. I Hhave long been a fan of straw bale gardening – especially for veg because I haven’t got the time to be prepping the traditional veg plot and keep weeding over and over again. Great for growing garlics – my favourite.

    Nice blog you have – very useful information in this post – thank you
    Heather

    1. Straw bale gardening is very new to me – it really just came up on my radar earlier this year and I’ve yet to try it out. It seems like an excellent solution for people growing in areas where access to open land isn’t readily available – patios, urban areas, etc.

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