As a keen gardener I love spending time outdoors connecting with nature and growing beautiful flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. But as a busy mum and business owner, I have limited time to spend in the garden.
Gardening has been my therapy for many years so I always make sure I spend time each week on my own health and well-being in my garden. I find about 20 – 30 minutes a few times a week keeps me well balanced and my garden thriving.
Many people ask for my help with their gardens and it’s wonderful to talk all things green with others and inspire them to grow fresh food.
I find that most people want to grow and eat fresh, organic food, but there’s a lot of reasons why they can’t…or don’t.
One of the main reasons is lack of time and being too busy. The other reasons I hear are limited space or not enough money.
By creating growing spaces using simple methods your garden will thrive, while you enjoy life and your fresh harvest.
Here are a few of my simple steps which are a great place to start for time poor or aspiring gardeners who want to create a thriving garden.
Successful container growing.
If you have limited space, limited mobility or have poor quality soil then growing in containers is a great option. It’s also a fun way of introducing kids to gardening.
Most plants can be grown in containers, and once potted into fresh, quality potting mix, will thrive for years.
If you’re new to gardening this is the place to start!
Container grown plants grow stronger with a monthly application of organic liquid fertiliser on their leaves and around the soil.
A few delicious potted plants are Strawberry, Blueberry, most Herbs, Lettuce, Chillies, Capsicum and Dwarf Fruit Trees. Flowers also grow well in containers and help to bring the bees to the garden.
I’m a big fan of dirt!! Ok, not very cool, but I just love the stuff!
As a Horticulturist I know the benefits of healthy soil. The one important factor of growing healthy food is having healthy soil which is packed with nutrients.
[Tweet “Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy Bodies”]
It’s as simple as that! Composting is THE best way to create healthy soil, almost for free!
Through leading a busy life I have devised ways of creating healthy gardens with limited time and space. My ‘In-Garden’ Composting system allows food scraps and garden waste to decompose IN the garden, rather than away from the garden, so there’s no shovelling compost around anymore! This suits me and my family as we add the food scraps to the bins and allow nature to make fresh soil ready for planting.
The compost bins I use are just plastic garbage bins, with the base removed, and the lid. They’re placed inside the veggie gardens and when the ingredients breakdown I simply lift out the bin, spread out the compost and plant my baby veggies and herbs directly into the fresh compost. Yes, it’s that simple and quick!!
Grow the ‘Easy’ plants.
There are plenty of plants to grow that don’t require loads of fussing. Some are happy with a weekly watering, or less than that, with fertiliser applied every few months.
These are the ones to grow if you have limited time…
Parsley would have to be my favourite. It’s easy to grow, has one of the highest nutrient content of fresh foods, and is delicious in any meal or fresh smoothies. I use Parsley every day to get all the vitality straight from the leaves.
A few other easy plants to grow are Chives, Rocket, Cos Lettuce, Celery and Kale. These leafy greens are also packed with nutrients and are best used fresh.
Growing a fruit tree.
I always suggest to people to grow at least one fruit tree in their garden, or more if you have space. The easiest to grow are from the Citrus family. My fav’s are Lemons and Limes, I love having fresh juice on hand.
Consider growing a fruit tree, or shrub, that you use the most. You’ll always have fruit when you need it. Citrus juice is great to freeze in ice-cube trays and store in the freezer. Plus Limes are quite expensive at times, so it’s so good to have them in abundance in your garden. Your friends will love them too!!
Citrus trees are low maintenance, and once established they usually produce fruit most of the year, depending on your climate. Dwarf varieties are available if you have limited space and can be grown in ground or in a large tub. Apply organic fertiliser each season (4 times per year) for strong growth.
Food Forever – how to grow Perennials.
Plants have a few classifications, depending on how they grow. One large group of plants are referred to as Perennials, which means they have a life cycle over two years, or as long as they are healthy.
The great thing about edible Perennials is that they grow and produce food continuously, which means you don’t have to replant more food each season, like you would when growing annuals (plants with one growth cycle)
Perennials are ground covers, shrubs, vines and trees. A few of my favourite plants are Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sorrell, Chillies, Capsicum, Passionfruit, Brazilian Spinach, Citrus fruits and Bananas.
When growing Perennials you need to apply organic fertiliser each month and keep the gardens mulched to prevent weeds, but as you harvest from these plants you are generally pruning them as well, which provides more growth and more food!!
Most herbs are Perennials and are very handy to have growing around the garden to pick and use as needed.
Keep a ‘Garden Kit’ handy!
I always grab time, when possible, out in the garden. One thing I’ve done to make this valuable time easier is put together a small kit of gardening goodies to have ready when I head outside.
Using a clear plastic tub, with lid, I’ve added small plastic take-away containers for products and other items that I regularly use. I store these in the shed to access easily when I head outdoors.
Here’s my kit –
- Gloves – helps to keep nails and hands clean.
- Small hand tools – One hand digger and one small hand fork are enough for most digging jobs.
- Sharp secateurs (like gardening scissors) – These are used for pruning, trimming and harvesting food. Ask your partner or father to sharpen them regularly as blunt secateurs can damage plant stems. When choosing these try a few pairs in your hand before deciding and if possible buy a good quality pair for long term use. A girl needs good gardening tools!!
- Potting mix – always use the best potting mix you can afford. Your plants will grow stronger and the good mixes contain some fertiliser for your plants.
- Organic Fertiliser – I keep a few in my kit. I always use Blood and Bone, yes it stinks but the garden loves it! I also use organic slow release fertiliser pellets, for long term feeding of plants. I also have organic liquid fertiliser to dilute with water and apply to foliage on plants. Choose organic fertilisers that can be used on all plants…saves having to buy different ones which saves costs.
- Mulch –one ingredients that’s important for gardening. It’s applied over the soil, around plants and helps to keep weeds away and keep moisture and nutrients in the soil. A bit like a blanket for your plants. I use organic sugar cane mulch and the pack is small enough for me to lift into the car…Important!
- Pots and seeds – I keep loads of these for my Workshops and also for home use. I use recycled pots for growing plants from seeds and use organic, heirloom seeds when possible. These are non GM and will reproduce seeds, through the plants growth cycle, that can be regrown in the garden. Plastic pots and punnets are good to have on hand for growing new plants.
These products are available at local hardware stores and garden centres.
My other tip is to learn a few basic gardening skills that can be applied to many activities in the garden. There are loads of videos, blogs and other information on gardening available, so equip yourself with the basics and grab a few minutes when possible to head outside.
You’ll be amazed with what you can achieve in just 20 minutes in the garden…and I’m sure once you start you won’t want to stop!!
Growing with you,