≡ Menu ≡ Menu

How much time is needed to grow a vegetable garden?

Finding time to garden

I conducted a reader survey a little while ago and it told me that mum’s are busy. Surprise! Mums feel busy, they are busy, all of the time. This post is for those of you who need to have logic applied to processes. I hope it encourages you to start growing your vegetable garden this weekend, no more excuses! Time is not the barrier to add fresh home grown food to your family dinner table.

Work, sport activities and after school commitments, homework and hungry children waiting to be fed add pressure and stress at the end of a full day. It does for me, I understand the feeling.  Most of the time it feels like there not enough hours in the day. If you get to the end of it remembering that:

  • it is dress up day at school
  • the fee for the kinder excursion needs to be sent
  • the raffle tickets (that you didn’t sell) are due back
  • something needs to be chosen to show the class for show and tell and a practice run would help
  • basketball starts immediately after school so you need to take the uniform and snack to school pick up to get there in time
  • your boss wants a brief emailed before the end of the day
  • a demanding client is up to version 4 of a review that is still not finished
  • your husbands important document must be posted today
  • dinner is not planned and you have no idea how you will get to the shops to get something
  • you need to book a dentist appointment
  • etc etc etc etc

You do get through all this stuff (and so much more) so I know for sure that you can grow a vegetable garden – it’s a cinch in comparison to the things you get done and organise each day.

Starting a vegetable garden will ultimately save you time and energy. With the input of minutes per week you can be collecting fresh produce from your garden to add to family meals on a regular basis.

One of the key benefits of growing your own fresh vegetables is that you remove the requirement to visit the shops for “top ups”. You can collect the produce from your garden. A reduced number of trips to the shops results in less money being spent and the temptation of “easy option” food choices is removed.

The simple activity of being outdoors with your children is a wonderful way to de-stress and regain balance after spending large amounts of time indoors during the week. It is a rewarding activity. It is a peaceful, non-rushed time to reflect and connect with nature and your family.

Gardening with kids

Starting a family vegetable garden is not just another thing to do.

Let me put things in context:

The survey I conducted was not huge but I am confident it is a valid representation of my audience. It told me that 69% of my community were already growing vegetables and/or herbs. Of the remaining 31% of the audience, all of them wanted to do so. One of the main things holding them back and stopping them from starting – TIME

Busy mums who are currently not growing vegetables at home but would like to do so, told me that the main reasons that have not started is because they feel time poor. They believe that the time required to begin and care for a garden would be significant.

The thing with time is that we all have the same amount of it. We each choose to use it differently.

How much time do you need to spend in the garden?

There is no definitive answer to this question. It depends how much you plant and how well organised and serviced your planting space is.  The effort you put in will be reflected in your results, or harvest. The more effort and time you put in, the greater the rewards and harvests.

A vegetable garden can be grown and cared for with low effort and time commitment. In reality, planting seeds takes minutes and garden care can be shared among the family members in just minutes a week.

Garden harvest

Spring and summer:

I spend a small amount of time (between 5-30 minutes) in my vegetable garden almost every day, or a couple of hours on the weekend.

Commonly this time is spent planting more seeds or seedlings and harvesting produce.

As a reward for the time spent I am able to harvest almost all of our required vegetables for our family meals over the summer period.

Autumn and winter:

Autumn garden tasks are generally focused on removing summer plants and replenishing the soil.

I spend very little time in the garden in winter. I dislike the cold so tend to avoid spending much time in the garden at that time. I venture out daily to do a quick bug check on the broccoli and kale and to collect ingredients for dinner and that is about it. Generally speaking the rain takes care of the watering.

Routines based on seasonal cycles make gardening predictable:

Predictability allows you to plan. The more you tend to your garden, the more you learn and the easier it becomes. You will recognise when things need to be watered, fertilised and removed from the garden. It becomes a routine that is easy to manage.

Summary of a year in the garden:

Time to spend in the garden

An estimate of the time that I spend in the vegetable garden by season:

Summer: 2-3 hours per week

Autumn: 1-2 hours per week

Winter: less than 1 hour per week

Spring: 2 hours per week

Note: Your vegetable garden is likely to be smaller than mine, thus even less time would be required. Read more about the size of my garden to create your own comparison.

If you were to start your vegetable garden this weekend and plant one vegetable seedling. This is a typical time requirement based on a mid spring planting:

Activity Day/Week  Note Time
Plant seed  Day 1   After day 24 approx. or when 3 leaves have developed  5 min
Water  Every 3 days  While the seed develops  2 min
Soil Prep  Week 3  Add compost  10 min
Plant seedling in garden  Week 4  5 min
Water  Week 4 →  As required to keep soil moist  5 min each
 Fertalise  Week 10  When plant develops flowers and when fruit sets  5 min
 Harvest  Week 12 +  2 min
Approximate time from seed to harvest  74 minutes

The timing will differ depending on what you actually plant and if you plant outside of spring, or on it’s shoulders – eg: at the very beginning or at the end of spring.

Planting vegetables

The 5 min watering sessions are based on an estimate of once per week from week 4 to week 12. Overall for a time investment of just over an hour in 12 weeks you will have grown and raised and harvested produce from your vegetable. If you grew a tomato plant or a zucchini over this period, both prolific producers, it would most certainly be time well spent – just 6 minutes per week over the 12 weeks.

As mentioned above this is an example that is highly variable depending  on what you plant. Choosing things that grow fast and produce a good crop is the best way to ensure that your valuable time is wisely invested in growing fresh food for your family. That conversation is for another time…..

If you are not sure what to plant or how to start, purchase a Kitchen Garden Box®.  

Logically ordered by season and including activities to involve the kids and 5 minutes seasonal tasks to complete.  The Kitchen Garden Box® is designed to help busy mums (and dads) just like you. Get yours here.



Share this post: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest
Join me here: Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestrssinstagram

Get a weekly delivery of Fresh content straight to your in-box.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Amanda (@lambsearshoney) April 7, 2016, 8:29 am

    A great post Kyrstie – this makes it all look manageable.
    And we don’t need to have a full-on market garden – even growing just a few things is all you need to enjoy the satisfaction of producing your own food.

Leave a Comment

Next post:

Previous post: