Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the endless list of jobs in your garden? Today, we’ll tell you about five regular jobs that we make sure we complete at least once a week because they actually save time later on. What are they?! Let’s find out!
It’s easy to let all those gardening tasks pile up, but by tackling recurring jobs little and often you can make your garden much more manageable.
1. How to Weed Efficiently
Don’t worry! I know it’s easy to look on weeding with a heavy heart, but if you do a round of weeding at least once a week, you’ll soon have it under control.
- Our strategy is to hunt around—and this is mainly annual weeds—and simply pluck them out and drop them back down where they are. On a hot, sunny day, they’ll soon whither away and return nutrients to the soil. It’s a bit like a leafy game of hide and seek!
- It’s easier to have different vegetables grown in different beds so we tend to do one bed, get it weeded, feel great about it, and move onto the next.
- Practice “no-dig” gardening which means we just add the organic matter onto the surface of the bed each autumn and then the worms turn it in. One advantage (besides saving time digging) is that it avoids bringing all of those weed seeds back to the surface. It dramatically reduces the amount of weeds you get.
- Use a hoe, especially early in the season. What’s the difference? Running over beds with a hoe weekly can avoid more arduous hand weeding, though this will become less necessary with time as weeds become fewer and fewer. Once weeded, using a hoe to “keep the soil moving.”
- Not all weeds are bad. Some are actually beneficial, such as nettle! If the weeds are near the edges of the garden, they’ll often be helpful for pollinators.
- Leave some of the clover and wildflowers in the lawn as well; it’s all beneficial wildlife.
2. Speedy Watering
In truth, some of my weekly jobs are done in parallel – while I’m weeding I’m also assessing the health of my crops and what additional attention they need, including whether they need a drink.
- Good soil moisture is essential for steady (and quicker) growth. While it’s great to conserve water, ensuring adequate soil moisture means plants grow unhindered, giving more/heavier yields, which ultimately can only be a good thing for you and the environment!
- How do you assess soil moisture? In most instances, be guided by the look of the soil that plants are growing in and their general appearance. It’s obvious after periods of rain that things below ground are just fine, but things are less clear during prolonged dry spells. In this instance, do the touch test: sink finger down to about the second knuckle and check how moist it is. If it feels cool and damp, there’s enough moisture there.
- When it comes to water, the solution is NOT little and often but infrequently and LOADS! Really soak the ground and let it puddle. Move on. Then come back and soak it again. I you do it properly, you only need to deeply water once a week or twice a week if it’s really hot.
- Here’s a tip: Carry two watering cans! Sound simple but saves time!
- Install drip irrigation when possible. We’ll explain more about this in the video.
3. Keep Access Paths Clear
Having tidy paths are like having a tidy office – it’s partly psychological in that it just feels better, lifts the mood in the vegetable garden and boosts motivation. But it also speeds up moving between other essential areas.
- Weed the paths between your beds and keep them relatively cleaned up from debris so there’s less chance of slugs and pests.
- Topping up paths with shredded prunings/wood chippings gives a tidy finish but also helps feed the soil and boosts populations of pest-predators like ground beetles.
- Having wood chips also keeps the garden drier instead of a muddy mess.
- Make sure your paths are wide enough to work comfortably and even have room for a wheelbarrow.
4. Plan for Success and Record Progress
Gardening is never static! Plans are fluid and naturally depend on the weather and progress of the growing season. Over the weekend, I like to check my gardening plans and see how everything is coming along.
- Check the Garden Plan. How’s it looking? Does something merit more/less space and should the plan be tweaked accordingly. Is a crop nearly ready for harvest, in which case a succession crop can be sown, ready to go in when space appears.
- Look at overview of Plant List. How’s it all going? Are things going to time/plan?
- Will there be any gaps appearing over the next month that need to be filled with new seeds/transplants? Don’t forget to succession plant (which is a feature in the online Garden Planner).
- What needs sowing this coming week? Go though your seed box and put them on the counter ready to sow.
- Keep a note in your Garden Journal, to inform next year’s planning.
- Aside from the productive plot, what other jobs are pressing and need bumping up the priority list – e.g. this coming week, pull back the grass from around the wild flowers in the meadow area of the garden.
5. Beat Procrastination
Maybe you’re not a procrastinator like I am, but I must confess I’m one for putting off those dread-filled jobs!
Here’s an idea: Tackle just one of those put-off jobs a week. Then you’ll soon get through them!
Think of the next step and why you need to do the put-off job. For example, last week I weeded through this totally overgrown bed. But I’m now planting it up with plants to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. It instantly feels more manageable and feel-good!
Try timing yourself for, say, 20 minutes and see what you end up getting done. Like anything in life, breaking down those big jobs down into manageable parcels and they suddenly become a lot less daunting!
For more gardening jobs, see the Almanac’s monthly list of tasks by region!