Time- it’s what gets us all, right? There never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything you want to do-even when you set goals and make priorities. Let’s say you have grand gardening plans for the summer. You have it all mapped out. The seeds are purchased. But somewhere along the way things start to slide.
Maybe you got stuck early and couldn’t find time to get this huge garden tilled and prepped.
Maybe it was farther down the line and you were so busy those seedlings on the back deck are now so crowded and unruly in their tiny little pots you aren’t sure how they will thrive when you finally get time to plant them in the ground.
Maybe it went well until summer was in full swing and those weeds just would. not. stop. growing.
So what do you do? Growing your own food is a top priority, but life just doesn’t stop sometimes. How do you grow more food in less time? Check out these time-saving tips and get more food for your efforts.
How to Grow More Food in Less Time
Weeds are probably the most time consuming part of gardening. They also can be a make it or break it kind of thing when it comes to a lot of gardeners. Those weeds seems to sprout up overnight and turn your garden into a jungle and crowd out the crops in no time.
Now if you prepped ahead you might have a nice layer of mulch on top of your beds that will help with the weeds a lot, BUT most of the time we are starting with freshly tilled soil where weeds are just a way of life. The best way to combat weeds- and drop your weeding time down to zero- is to use plastic sheet mulch.
It’s not sustainable by any means, but when you are crunched for time it is hands down the best way to keep a weed-free garden. Get a large roll and cut it to the size of your beds and either use cover the edges with soil or use landscaping staples to hold down the plastic while the plants take root.
Then simply punch holes in the plastic and drop your started plants or seeds right on it. The plastic helps conserve water loss from evaporation and I never had any issues with getting water too the plants with the amount of holes I punch in the plastic there are plenty of areas for rain to seep through.
If you are careful with your plastic you should be able to get at least 2 years out of it before having to replace. We pull it up at the end of the season, roll it carefully, and store it for the next season.
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Water is vitally important to the amount of food you can grow in your garden. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that gets good consistent rains in the summer- then I am jealous! Most of us will have to deal with hot and dry weather at least some every summer and nothing sucks time like standing out in the garden with a hose and sprayer. Not to mention it’s not the best way to water your garden anyway. You can save a little time by using a sprinkler- but I’ve never found them very effective and they still water from above, which is not always the best way to water the plants.
The best way to water your garden is from the soil. You can do this with soaker hoses placed in your beds (under your plastic mulch). Then just simply turn on your hose and walk away for a bit while the hoses water your garden nice and slow! Just don’t forget to turn them off!
Or better yet, build a drip irrigation system out of PVC- it’ll last longer and save a ton of money and time on watering your garden.
Careful garden planning can go a long way in saving you time in the garden. Keeping a garden journal will help you plant smarter and more efficiently. You won’t need to rely on memory to remember what did well and any other tips you might have forgotten from previous seasons.
Don’t forget that planning and record keeping is super important to efficient gardening. Try out my Yearly Garden Planner to keep yourself, and your garden, organized!
Smart care also goes a long way in saving time in the garden. Take tomatoes for example. If you choose determinate varieties that won’t grow huge and unruly they will be much easier for you to stake and won’t have to worry as much about removing suckers. If you choose flimsy tomato cages from the garden center you will spend half the summer fighting those cages and propping them back up. Instead choose a more time effective way of staking- such as the Florida Weave.
Make it a priority to get out in your garden every day- instead of zoning out on facebook or watching TV to unwind- pick bugs for stress relief instead!
Related Reading: How to Get Rid of These Common Garden Pests Naturally!
And while you are out there in the garden each day make sure to pick. If you harvest everyday there is less chance that things will get out of hand (overgrown, flowering basil, anyone?) or that things will go past their prime (monster zucchini and rotten tomatoes??)
My family and I go out every evening after dinner with our baskets. We fill them with whatever is ready at that time and then we can plan meals for the next day around our harvest or I spend the night making tomato sauce or blanching and freezing veggies.
Not only does it allow for less waste, getting out and harvesting daily will help you not get overwhelmed with produce that needs to be processed.
Prep Throughout the Fall
Summers can be busy, but when the bulk of your growing season is over, it’s not time to rest. It’s time to get ready for next season! The best time to fertilize and mulch the garden is over winter- so plant that cover crop, cover the beds with chopped leaves, and spread that chicken manure!
If you do this in the fall and winter you won’t be rushed to prep your beds in the spring when there is a deadline or timeline to follow. And you will be so thankful the job is done come March.
If you’ve been wanting to switch to a no-till way of gardening or layer a lot of wood chips for Back to Eden style gardens, fall is the perfect time to get all that set up without disrupting any crops.
This is how I grow in less time- through full time jobs, monster pregnancies, lots of tiny children, and over the years I’ve grown a lot of food! So stop wasting time fighting weeds and standing with a hose in your garden and start to grow more food in less time!