Harvest more from your garden without investing more time
January 17, 2017
A productive vegetable garden that provides fresh ingredients for your family meals can be created without spending hours and hours in the garden to make it happen. From years of talking with my readers I know for sure that many mum’s (as well as women who have no children) would love to be able to harvest a regular supply of ingredients to add to meals. The satisfaction of growing and collecting your own organically grown vegetables and herbs is immense. It can be achieved simply by completing a little planning and following my advice listed below. Create a low care vegetable garden and experience the benefits.
Give yourself a break! You do a million things each day for your family. Growing fresh organic food in your vegetable garden does not need to be another chore to add to your already huge To Do List. Your garden will grow all on it’s own, with minimal supervision and interference. You just need to let go of the expectation of perfection.
The main criteria to achieve this are: Prepare good soil, plant according to the season and your climate and water regularly.
2. Get the kids involved in the process and allow them take ownership. Over a period of time spent in the garden with you and around you, they will learn about the seasons and how they can contribute to family meals while spending quality family time together in a healthy environment. You may be surprised by how much they embrace the responsibility and opportunity to help you, even if it is to collect the ingredients you need to tonight’s dinner. Everything you harvest = less you have to purchase at the store.
3. Plant flowers to attract bees. Bees will pollinate vegetables and ensure a healthy harvest. Don’t underestimate the importance of bees in your garden. If your plants are not pollinated there will be no vegetables. Use flowers to border the garden, or in containers around the garden. To find out which ones attract beneficial insects you can read this post I wrote on the topic. Over the last three years I have steadily increased the number of bee-attracting flowers I have been adding to the garden and as a result our garden harvests continue to increase. Many bee-attracting flowers are also edible so may be used to add to salads and meals as an additional ingredient.
4. Allow herbs to go to flower rather than trying to prevent this happening. I’ve not come across a herb in flower that the bees do not love. In previous years I have been focused on keeping my herbs productive, neat and tidy rather than just letting them run their course. I( have worked on optimizing production rather than working with their natural cycle. If they are beginning to go to flower the conditions are not optimal for them. Relax and allow the bees and insects to enjoy them. You will ultimately benefit from this.
5. Allow plants to go naturally to seed. Vegetables will create seed once they have flowered. Leaving these in the garden will mean that birds, insects and the wind will spread the seed to re-germinate when conditions are ideal. In addition to being convenient it is a zero cost and zero time investment for new plants to be added to your garden. I have let an entire garden bed self seed this summer. I planted a cucumber plant and one zucchini, the rest popped up on it’s own. The image below is of the garden bed a month ago, it is now jungle like with all of the plants developing huge clusters of fruit. Self seeded plants are usually the best producers in any given season as they are conditioned to the environment and have grown because conditions are ideal for them. They will generally produce a high volume of vegetables and and are strong disease resistant. A great reason to allow structure and planning to be forgotten while you get on with your day and all else it involves.
The picture below is of a carrot gone to seed. The flowers are spectacular don;t you think? One carrot that goes to seed will produce hundreds of carrot seeds. Why not let one plant go to seed if it is a variety your family has enjoyed eating?
Boost your efforts with a bug hotel, worm farm or compost. An insect hotel is a fun activity to do with the kids, providing a shelter for insects that the kids can observe and study and have a positive impact on the organic control of pests in the garden. A worm farm or compost is a wonderful way to ensure that wastage in your household is kept to a minimum. Observing and being involved in the process of a food item growing in the garden. being harvested for a family meal, with the scraps going back to the garden to nourish the next round of plants is a wonderful journey to take children on. Compost provides important nutrients for the soil and enhances soil health at no cost.
If you have been worried about the amount of time you have to invest in a vegetable garden I hope these tips help. If you need someone to get the whole thing set up and growing contact me here.
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