Taking care of your garden is a real pleasure. But people who have a garden or a vegetable patch know that it takes a lot of time and effort. But did you know that with less effort, you can have a better harvest?
Here are the 5 secrets to effortless gardening:
1 Use the “no-till” gardening method
No-till gardening means not tilling or spading the soil in your beds. The idea is not to disturb the complex subsoil environment. It is this environment in its natural state that will benefit the plants in your garden or vegetable garden. The amendments and fertilizers. But what about the usual amendments and fertilizers (such as compost, manure, peat, lime, organic fertilizers, etc.)? These amendments are simply added to the soil surface.
Over time, they become part of the subsoil. Here’s how it works: on the one hand, watering integrates the amendments into the soil. On the other hand, the activity of the organisms that abound in the subsoil also participates in the assimilation of the fertilizers. This means that there is no need to plow your land to incorporate the fertilizers.
The result is less effort! Less weeds. With the “no-till” method, the need for weeding is greatly reduced. In addition, if you use a mulch (a layer of protective material placed on the soil) containing bark, you prevent weeds from appearing. Also, the few weeds that do break through are easily uprooted. Indeed, one of the advantages of using mulch is that the soil always remains moist.
This moist, spongy soil is the perfect way to speed up the growth of your shoots and plantings. It’s an effective process because it mimics the way plants grow in the wild. Less effort. If you adopt the no-till method of gardening, there’s no need for strenuous efforts with your spade and shovel. That means a lot less work for you in the spring! On the other hand, it is important to renew the mulch in your garden or vegetable garden – and not to trample it.
2 Mulch, more mulch, more mulch
Laying a thick layer of mulch on your garden soil and around your plants has many benefits. It improves the growing conditions of your plants. Plus, it reduces weeding and watering time. Water savings. Mulch saves water because it prevents evaporation. In addition, it prevents the surface of the soil in your garden from drying out. As a result, the need for regular watering is greatly reduced. Mulch also prevents weeds from growing. Those that do break through are easy to uproot since the soil remains loose and moist. This is why mulch is a real “must” in areas where water is a scarce natural resource.
What type of mulch should I use? A good gardener is always looking for free, organic solutions that can be used as mulch. Here are some ideas: Dried grass clippings are a readily available resource. Fresh grass clippings have a high nitrogen content. However, for plants that are ready to bear fruit, it is best to use dried grass clippings.
In the fall, you can use dead leaves, straw (but not hay), seaweed and plant waste that covers the forest floor. It is good to know that for vegetable gardens, avoid using bark mulch, geotextile fabric and plastic sheeting. Tips for use. Once a layer of mulch has been applied, it should not be disturbed. For amendments and fertilizers (such as lime, compost or phosphate), simply add them to the surface of the mulch without mixing. For planting and seeding, simply remove the mulch
. Once the plants take root, put the mulch back in place around the plant. Mulch naturally disintegrates in the soil. This is why you should frequently add mulch to your garden. When the mulch thins out and begins to disintegrate, you know you have built up a nourished soil and have prepared it well for your next harvest! You can easily find mulch in garden or home improvement stores.
3 Use ground cover
Between crop rotations, adopt the cover crop method. This involves planting a ground cover – peas, forages, rye or buckwheat. This method is especially good for gardeners who use peat moss between rotations. It saves the purchase and transportation of heavy and cumbersome bags. In addition, this method requires less manure and fertilizer.
Cover crop seeds are easy to plant. Once they mature, they can be buried to prepare for the next crop. Tips for use. The use of ground cover is an effective complement to the “no-till” gardening method. It contributes to better aeration, loosening and fertility of your soil – all without tilling! Plowing in a cover crop must be done before it goes to seed. But little effort is required for burial. When you are ready for your crop rotation, we recommend cutting your cover crop with shears or pruning shears.
Then leave the clippings on the ground as mulch. You can also “smother” the crop with a dense mulch (algae, for example). This creates what is called a “lasagna effect”. This environment allows you to replant your crop – without tilling or weeding the soil. The benefits of ground cover. – Prevents weeds. Nature doesn’t like to leave virgin soil. If you don’t work your soil, it will be overrun with weeds in no time. Growing ground covers will make it harder for weeds to grow. – Limit the need for peat moss. Adding peat to the soil requires a lot of effort. Each bag must be lifted and laid at least 4 times before the peat is spread on the soil.
Peat is needed to aerate and loosen the soil. But a ground cover is just as effective and requires much less effort. – Limits the need for fertilizer. Forage-type ground covers will add nitrogen to the soil. Therefore, you will need less fertilizer for your next crop. We recommend using rapeseed as a green manure: it is much lighter than manure.
4 Use raised beds
After a few hours in the garden, our backs tire easily. We quickly feel the urge to go home, drink a cup of tea and move on to another activity. And needless to say, the older we get, the more flexible our poor knees and backs become. In your own garden, it is likely that the best-kept beds are the highest ones. This is normal, since they are easier to access!
To make your gardening easier and increase your harvest, try converting your garden or vegetable patch to raised beds. This allows you to grow evenly – and without back pain! Ideal size. We recommend building beds that are 120 cm wide.
The idea is to be able to easily reach the full width of your bed from one side. The ideal height for a bed is 40 cm. More control. With raised beds in your garden, you can better control weeds in the paths between your beds. This is because the walls of your beds act as protective barriers and prevent weeds from invading. Plus, you can easily smother weeds in the walkways by laying down pieces of cardboard (or mulch, for a more aesthetic look). The result? A neat and tidy garden – without wasting time and energy on weeding!
5 Use drip irrigation
Dragging your hoses through the garden takes a lot of time and effort. Watering is an inevitable part of maintaining a garden or vegetable patch. One can quickly become a slave to this task. Some people even change their schedule to water their plants. Another problem is to take care not to water the leaves of certain plants (tomatoes, in particular), as this can cause an outbreak of mildew. Therefore, it is not possible to use automatic sprinkler irrigation on this type of plant. Many problems and disadvantages of watering plants – is there a solution? Yes, the drip system. This system consists of several tiny pipes and several emitters (the “drippers”). It is also known as micro-irrigation. The pipes are laid on the ground in your flower beds. All you have to do is turn on a small faucet and the water drips slowly and steadily to the roots of your plants. This system saves a lot of time. In addition, the water savings are considerable, as water is no longer sprayed everywhere like with a garden hose.
It also means that the passages between the beds are no longer watered. This is an important aspect. Without water, weeds in the paths of your garden dry out and make weeding easier. Less effort! Tips for use. Place your drip hoses under the mulch of your flower beds so that they are invisible. There are also battery-operated electric timers that program the time and duration of your watering. This allows you to take care of your garden – without being there! Better crops.
That’s one of the nice things about using a drip system and a timer. Your plants’ growth and yields will increase! Drip irrigation takes longer than overhead irrigation. Therefore, it takes advantage of the natural absorption time of your plants’ roots. The result? Your garden produces better crops – with less effort! You can easily find a micro-irrigation kit in gardening or home improvement stores.