Have you considered planting a garden? While it may seem a bit daunting at first, a low-maintenance plot has tons of benefits, and it can fit within the busiest family’s schedule. People of all ages enjoy gardening, and your children will benefit from this fun and healthy activity. Here are a few tips for planting an easy-care garden — and why you should start today.
Why Plant a Garden?
Image via Flickr by Robert Jack Cutter
Backyard gardening has many benefits, from access to healthy, homegrown food to bonding time with your family. One of the best reasons for you to cultivate a garden is the learning opportunities it provides your little ones. When your kids help plant, water, and weed the garden, they can learn:
- Responsibility: by routinely caring for the plants.
- Understanding: with learning about cause and effect, as plants die without water.
- Self-confidence: from achieving their goals, like harvesting and cooking the food they grow.
- Love of nature: by spending time outdoors.
- Discovery: from learning about science, such as botany, meteorology, and nutrition.
- Cooperation: when the whole family teams up to share the workload.
- Creativity: through finding new and exciting ways to grow plants.
How to Start a Fuss-Free Garden
With these seven steps, you and your family will be well on your way to starting a nearly care-free garden:
- Pick a spot. Make sure your garden is a safe place, such as your fenced-in backyard. Your kindergartner may want to venture outside to tend the plants on their own. Provide them with suitable tools for them to use.
- Start small. If you want a low-maintenance garden, avoid the urge to plant a farm. Start with one or two raised beds the first season and add a few new ones every year.
- Use raised beds. Raised beds may provide your family with better yields and help prevent weeds. These contained plots allow you to feed and water only the important plants by providing a barrier between your crops and the rest of your landscape.
- Stick to your growing zone. Georgia is in the 6a and 9a hardiness growing zone. To ensure easy-growing crops, stick with plants designed to grow in your hot, humid climate.
- Protect against weeds. Weeding is one of a novice gardener’s biggest time consumers. Use 2 inches of weed-suppressing mulch around your plants or lay down sections of cardboard inside your raised beds before you add your dirt.
- Enrich the soil. Loose, nutrient-dense soil is your ticket to big yields with a minimum of work. Add bulk compost to produce a 50/50 mix with your yard’s native soil.
- Buy seedlings. You may be tempted to buy a ton of seed packets at your local big box store. While they are less costly, get your garden started the quick and easy way and purchase healthy seedlings from your local nursery.
If you’re planning to grow a few edible plants, pick those varieties that will give your family the most bang for your buck. These vegetables are a good place to start:
- Onions: Onions are one of the most frequently cooked vegetables and are common in many backyard vegetable gardens. They are also easy to grow and don’t need consistent watering if you use mulch. Just remember to give them 4 to 6 inches of space to flourish.
- Peppers: Another bold and flavorful option for your self-sufficient garden are peppers. Each plant will yield a sizable harvest, and a top growing tip is to neglect them. They are rarely bothered by pests or diseases, and you can be stingy with the water.
- Potatoes: To grow a potato bush, all you have to do is plant a potato. These edibles do well in raised beds, and you can harvest some without killing the plant. Simply dig around the roots, pick the largest specimens, then re-cover the baby ones with dirt.
Herbs will grow well almost anywhere, and you can’t beat them for livening up your cooking. You may save money, too, as some markets charge a pretty penny for fresh herbs. Try grow-it-yourself options like:
- Chives: These green shoots are a fine addition to sauces, soups, and salads and can be grown indoors or out. Scissor clip what you need from the ends and let the plant continue to grow almost completely untended.
- Parsley: One of the best things about biennial parsley is that it reseeds itself. Plant seedlings in the spring and water when the top inch becomes dry. It may even survive Georgia’s mild winters, providing fresh leaves year-round.
- Basil: One of the easiest herbs to grow is basil. This plant plays a starring role in many Italian recipes. It’s also one of the fastest-growing herbs in the garden and can produce up to a 1/2 cup of leaves a week.
Fruits That Are Easy-As-Pie
Fruits are a wonderful addition to your list of edible plants. They offer a sweet treat, and many are quite easy to cultivate, including:
- Tomatoes: Yes, tomatoes are a fruit. These colorful orbs love full sun, and many varieties are extremely prolific. Choose smaller tomatoes, like cherry and grape, as they’re some of the hardiest kinds.
- Strawberries: Who doesn’t love a red, ripe strawberry? Consider this delicious fruit in your low-maintenance garden. For a patch that produces a reliable crop, choose everbearing varieties. These can be harvested twice a year, usually in June and September.
- Peaches: What Georgia orchard would be complete without a peach tree? Select a tree that’s about a year old with a healthy root system. Most types of peach trees are self-pollinating, so you only need to plant one. It’s a good idea to fertilize your tree in early spring and prune it once a year.
Planting a low maintenance garden comes with tons of benefits, and it’s fun. Does your family enjoy gardening? What do you grow that’s fuss-free? Let us know at Creme de la Creme of Buckhead, GA so we can share your tips and tricks.