Growing a Garden at Home Without Much Work
Growing your own food at home is rewarding for many reasons. Just being able to play in the soil and watch your plants sprout, grow and feed your family satisfies our basic hunter-gatherer instincts. Knowing that the food we are eating is not laden with toxic chemicals, grown half-way around the world and tastes soooo much better fulfills a desire, and familial duty really, to keep our loved ones happy and healthy, but with our busy lifestyles who has the time to tend a back-yard garden?
Planting a garden doesn’t have to be a huge endeavor, with a little planning, and starting small, you can have a plot planted within a short amount of time and even less energy. By planting in raised or elevated garden beds you eliminate the hard work required for an on-the-ground traditional garden, there is no more tilling or turning over the soil, no pulling weeds or removing the sod.
Planters To Use for Growing Food
Ready-made cedar planting beds, raised or elevated, are the best choice for growing food at home; they are very long lasting, nice looking and do not contain chemicals or contaminants like plastic, pressure-treated or plywood, used pallets, or galvanized metal planting beds do.
Choose planter boxes that are made from untreated cedar boards and are bolted together, rather than screwed, nailed or slide together types; bolted planters will not come apart with the freeze and thaw, and wet and dry cycles like the other types do. Once you purchase the planter(s), assemble them, add soil, (a raised bed mix, not topsoil), add starter plants or sow the seeds of your favorite vegetable according to the seed packet.
Climbing & Vining Crops
If you are growing crops that climb or vine, like cucumbers, pole beans, and tomatoes, you will want to provide a trellis or cage when the plants get to be about 10” tall. Using a cage or trellis will keep the fruit off the ground and provide proper air circulation to help keep the plants healthy.
Keep the soil moist. Plants need about 5 gallons of water per week. To tell if you need to water, put your finger in the soil and if the soil is dry water it, if it is moist, don’t water it, simple! If you don’t have time to water, or if you go away on vacation, you can always attach an inexpensive drip-line that runs on a timer, so you are sure your plants have the water they need.
Pulling Weeds & Pests
Since you are planting in a raised bed mix, there are virtually no weeds to pull (because you didn't use topsoil), so other than keeping the planter watered, some pruning if needed. Don't forget to check for bugs and diseases, there really isn’t much left to do but wait for the harvest.
You can add compost mid-season to help fertilize your plants, then at the end of the season, after harvesting, you can use your planter as a compost bin. Add shredded leaves (just not black walnut leaves, they are toxic to some plants), ground-up egg shells, coffee grounds, and kitchen scraps.
Check out our planting guides to help layout your garden using companion planting methods. Using companion plants helps to grow a lot of food in a small space, eliminates the need for pesticides by keeping bad bugs away by tricking them and bringing in the good bugs to keep the bad ones at bay.
For more information about companion planting, see our article about Companion Planting. Don't forget to check out which soil you should be using in your raised bed!
Beware though, once you start a garden and see what you can and will accomplish/grow, you will become hooked! There is nothing more satisfying than eating fresh fruit or vegetables that you grew!