I enjoy gardening. I used to say I loved it, but if I'm honest, I love the idea of gorgeous gardens filled with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs all growing with exuberance in neatly weeded garden beds connected by intertwining pathways, gates and rose covered arbors. Lovely thought, but for someone who lives in an area with crazy weather patterns (drought or floods) and scorching summers ... someone with limited time and energy, and who also lives in a church parsonage- this beautiful, bountiful garden dream is simply that, a dream. "Someday", I tell myself ... but honestly, I'm not certain I would invest the time and energy required to create my 'dream garden' even if all the other factors were in my favor. Simple gardens are more my style and much more practical for my life.
Below are my recommendations for methods for simple gardens that can be used in a variety of situations:
- Square Foot Gardening- Mel Bartholomew's famous square foot gardening method works well for people like me who are overwhelmed with large areas of tilled soil and need small manageable garden spaces. I prefer the 4x4 beds. They are large enough for growing an assortment of plants, but small enough not to be confusing to plant and maintain.
- Sheet Mulching- This is a good no-dig method for starting a garden. I like combining small raised 4x4 square foot beds with sheet mulching to create fertile, easy to maintain garden beds. Sheet mulching can be less expensive than filling beds with the soil mixture recommended in the square foot method, and if you collect kitchen waste, leaves and other compostables, it is quite frugal.
- Ruth Stout Method- I love the idea of Ruth's No Work Gardening method, but I haven't fully implemented it in a garden, yet. I do use a thick mulch around my plants when they are established which helps greatly with water conservation and weed control. If I ever plant another large 'in the ground' garden, I will do it Ruth's way!
- Container Gardens- You can grow almost anything in a container, even fruits and vegetables that you would normally consider needing more space will thrive in the right container. I have citrus trees in pots and grow a variety of vegetables and herbs in various pots on the back porch. I love the portability of container gardens. If something is getting too little (or in my area, too much) sun, a container can be moved to a sunnier or shadier spot easily. This is my all-time favorite way to garden. Simple, portable, and doable in almost any situation. Find a container, fill it with soil, put in a plant or a few seeds, water, and wait for it to grow!
I hope these methods encourage you to plant a garden of your own. There are few things as satisfying as snipping flowers and herbs or gathering the makings of a meal from your very own garden, be it a large in-ground plot or a variety of containers on the back patio. I think I do love gardening; I just have to do it my way- the simple way!
How do you garden?
Do you have a favorite method or way of growing things?
What is your favorite simple gardening tip?