Small gardens can be a lot of fun and produce valuable sustenance for you and your family. Preparing a garden, planting a garden, and maintaining a garden are all very different tasks, with different requirements. Nearly all of these tasks will cost a little bit in time and in money.
We recently planted our first garden in our back yard, and below I’ll share some of the tricks we’ve learned that can make the entire process either cheaper, or less time consuming. I’m certain that there are other things that could be done to save even more time and money, but we’ll start with five easy tricks.
Save your sticks!
When trimming trees, save some of the medium sized sticks (1/4″ or so thick.) It’s easy to pinch your fingers around the top, and slide your fingers all the way down to de-leaf a freshly cut branch. You can then push these sticks into the ground near climbing plans, such as peas, instead of purchasing lattice. You may need to wait a few days for the sticks to dry out, the ones I used for this picture were still a little flimsy!
Tie in to sprinkler irrigation.
If you have a sprinkler system, it’s easy to tie in to the sprinklers for automatic irrigation. Couple this with a soaker hose like shown below, and you have a no nonsense, time-saving way of ensuring your plants get ample water, even if you drop the ball for a few days! I tied into my existing sprinkler system and added a valve for controlling the flow rate when I built my Raised Garden Planter Beds.
Install weed barrier.
Do you hate pulling weeds? I certainly do. I’ve got enough stuff to do in a given day, and I’d prefer to keep my chores simple. The added time to weed a garden is time I could be spending doing something else (like writing this post!) Use a weed barrier under a layer of mulch to prevent weeds. Weed barriers come in many forms:
- Commercial Weed Barrier (landscape fabric) similar to: this.
- Layers of newspaper
- Layers of cardboard
- I’ve even seen people use old clothing
Keep in mind, when using weed barrier, it should be porous enough to allow water to seep through, but closely knit enough to prevent weeds from germinating. Also, given time mother nature will always break down the barrier you use. Pay attention to lifespan on the commercial weed barriers, and expect to replace newspaper/cardboard frequently.
Make Garden Markers.
Garden markers can be pretty costly (they sure are proud of their cheap plastic and metal parts) but they definitely have their place! They make identifying the plants easier, especially while just starting to germinate. The ladies in my family (Mom, Sister, Sister-in-law, and my Wife) run a crafty blog called Simply Notable. There, my sister created a tutorial for making your own garden markers. It’s easy, cheap and they turned out fantastic. Now I need a set! Go check out her tutorial: DIY Herb Garden Markers.
Use a Garden Planner.
Seed Savers Exchange has an excellent web-based tool for planning out your garden space. You can define your garden area measurements, then add rows of crops. The tool figures out proper spacing based on the variety of plant for you! If you enter the dates that the seeds were planted, it will give you charts for estimated germination dates and maturity. It’s an excellent tool that I really enjoyed tinkering with. It made planning the garden very easy and answered a few questions about germination times for this relatively new gardener. Give it a shot and see if you like it, it’s free for 30 days!
Do you have tips to add? Let everyone know in the comments below!