Many of my clients have tried gardening but have gotten discouraged for many reasons. One reason is because they feel it takes too much time. But that’s not the case if you have a simple system in place that only takes 10 minutes a day. Read to find out quick and easy homegrown food: 10-minute vegetable gardening tips to make gardening easier in just a few minutes a day.
When I realized that vegetable gardening didn’t have to take all of my time, it changed the way I looked at gardening. Watching other people garden on social media can feel exhausting. I don’t know how many times I have been discouraged when people with sweaty faces share with me all the hard work it takes to garden. It makes me not want to even try.
I decided to come up with a plan of action so that each season has its own gardening chores and tasks. With each set of tasks, you can go out to your garden for just a few minutes a day and pick one task to keep your garden growing. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming job to have a vegetable garden, but instead a pleasant part of your daily routine in making life beautiful.
Grow Your Own Vegetables
Growing your own vegetables offers a multitude of compelling reasons. First and foremost, it allows you to take control of what you eat, ensuring the freshest, most nutritious produce on your plate. By nurturing your own vegetables, you can avoid harmful pesticides and chemicals, promoting a healthier lifestyle for yourself and your loved ones.
Growing your own vegetables provides an opportunity to reduce your environmental footprint by minimizing transportation and packaging waste associated with store-bought produce.
Gardening can be a therapeutic and stress-relieving activity, allowing you to unwind and reconnect with your heart at the beginning or end of the day. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a small balcony, the joy of savoring homegrown vegetables is unparalleled, filling your meals with flavor, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment.
Grow What You Love to Eat
Each year I grow new varieties of vegetables just to see if my family and I will like it. I love to grow things that you can’t get at the supermarket. One summer, I grew 4 different types of cucumbers that all were different shapes, tastes, and sizes. I would set out the cucumbers, sliced in bowls, and my family would taste test them all. We determined what to grow and focus on the next year from those taste tests.
Growing what you love to eat gives you great motivation to keep working at growing a vegetable garden. By focusing on the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that bring you joy and satisfy your palate, you ensure that your gardening efforts are worthwhile and rewarding.
Growing what you love to eat allows you to savor the flavors you adore, experiment with exciting recipes, and create meals that truly reflect your personal preferences. It’s about embracing your unique taste buds and tailoring your garden to suit your individual gardening journey.
When to Expect Fresh Produce
When you plant a backyard garden, the anticipation of harvesting fresh produce is one of the most exciting parts of the journey. If you planted seeds in the ground or inside and then transplanted the seedlings outside, it feels like it can take forever before you get to experience the fruit of your labor.
While the exact timing will vary depending on factors like climate, growing conditions, and the specific crops you choose, there are general guidelines to help you set expectations.
Looking on the back of the various seed packets, packet or tags on the seedlings helps you to know when your plants will start producing. Being patient and watching the miracle of things growing is all a part of the process and in our busy world, having a space to watch things grow is a calming and beautiful experience. When the veggies and fruits start giving you yummy things to eat, it makes it all worth it.
Easy Vegetables to Grow from Seed
When it comes to picking vegetables for your backyard garden, choosing easy-to-grow varieties can boost your confidence and ensure a successful harvest. Look for vegetables that are known to be resilient and low maintenance, making them ideal for novice gardeners.
Check out the list below on some great ideas of what to plant according to the season that you are in. The season is determined by the average high and low temperatures in your area.
Spring and Fall for Cool Season Vegetables
Cool season vegetables that are usually planted when the average temperature is between 35-75 degrees include many of the greens, brassicas like broccoli, and root crops like carrots. Some excellent options include leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, which can thrive in a range of conditions and offer a quick turnaround from planting to harvest.
You can start the brassicas, like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower from seed indoors 8-12 weeks before you want to plant outside in early spring and late spring. The other greens, like kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, and spinach, along with root crops like radishes, beets, and carrots can all be started easily. Plant seeds and grow vegetables for each season.
You can also grow an amazing variety of herbs like oregano, thyme, sage, cilantro, and dill during these seasons with great success. Herbs need less attention, less water, and less sun which make them a great starting point for a garden. Buy these herbs as seedlings to give them the best start.
Summer Season Crops
Summer crops like eggplant, tomato plants, and peppers like the temperatures to be between 65-85 degrees. Tomatoes, particularly cherry or patio varieties, are also a popular tomato plant choice as they tend to be prolific and forgiving. Choose these types of plants as seedlings so that your garden will start producing before it gets too cold. These veggies may need partial shade for a few weeks in the growing season.
Growing vegetables that like it hotter, over 85 degrees include cucumbers, beans, summer squash, winter squash, and okra. All of these crops grow easily starting from seed directly planted into the ground which makes gardening even easier.
Set Up is Success
In starting a vegetable garden, the setup is the most important piece of the puzzle. If the setup is in place with a location with lots of sun, great organic matter in the garden soil, and close to a water source that is easy to use, then you have all the elements of setting up your garden with success. So let’s take a deeper look into the set up.
Vegetable Gardening for Beginners
When I have spoken with gardeners who felt like gardening is too difficult and too hard, I first ask about the location of their garden. I continue to ask questions to find out what brought the most frustrations.
With a plan, that helps you to know what to do next with confidence so that you won’t waste any time but start enjoying the gardening process, you will be more encouraged to continue this adventure, even when things don’t go as planned.
A Starter Beginner Garden Plan
Use these 3 keys to making a garden plan that will help you grow your first garden with success.
Location: Choose a sunny spot in your backyard for your garden. Most vegetables and herbs thrive in at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Make sure the area is easily accessible for watering and maintenance and consider any potential obstructions like trees or structures that could cast shade.
Soil: Prepare your soil by removing any weeds or debris. Loosen the soil with a garden fork or tiller to ensure proper drainage and root penetration. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, enrich it with organic matter such as compost. This will improve the soil structure and provide essential nutrients for your plants.
Watering: Consistent and adequate watering is crucial for the success of your garden. Check the moisture level of the soil regularly and water deeply when it feels dry about an inch below the surface. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot and other issues. Mulching around your plants with straw or compost can help retain moisture and reduce the frequency of watering.
Having your small garden close to the main water source makes it easier to keep your garden growing. When the temperature is too cold or too hot, the temperature may stop you from taking care of your plants. To avoid this, drip irrigation to keep the garden an easy place to maintain. Drip irrigation can come in many different forms, but make sure that the main line is close to the growing crops.
Start with a Small Space
Starting small with backyard gardening is a wise approach that offers numerous benefits for beginners. By beginning with a smaller garden space, you can focus your efforts and attention on a manageable area, allowing for a greater chance of success.
This allows you to learn the basics of gardening, understand the specific needs of different plants, and develop essential skills such as watering, weeding, and soil management.
Starting small also helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by taking on too much at once. It allows you to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them without feeling overly burdened. A smaller garden requires less time and effort to maintain, making it easier to fit into a busy schedule.
As you gain confidence and experience, you can gradually expand your garden and take on new challenges. So, whether you have a tiny space or limited time, starting small with backyard gardening provides a solid foundation for your green thumb to grow, ensuring a rewarding and enjoyable gardening journey.
Make Efficient Use of Space
If you’re eager to start growing vegetables but have limited space, raised beds can be a fantastic solution. These elevated planting areas offer several advantages that make them perfect for small-scale gardening as plants grow.
First and foremost, raised beds provide better control over the soil quality, allowing you to create an optimal growing environment even if your ground soil is less than ideal. Additionally, they help maximize space efficiency by concentrating plants in a smaller area, making it easier to manage and maintain.
Raised beds also improve drainage, preventing waterlogging and ensuring healthier root systems. With their defined boundaries, raised beds reduce the risk of encroachment from weeds or nearby plants, minimizing the need for extensive weeding. Their elevated design makes gardening more accessible, reducing strain on your back and knees.
So, whether you have a tiny backyard or just a balcony, starting your gardening journey with raised beds is a fantastic way to make the most of your limited space while enjoying the rewards of growing your own plants.
Lots of Sunlight Is a Must
The sun plays a vital role in each growing season, and understanding its differences throughout the year is crucial for your backyard garden’s success.
In spring, the sun gradually becomes stronger, providing more warmth and longer daylight hours. This stimulates plant growth, encouraging seeds to sprout and young plants to thrive.
As summer arrives, the sun reaches its peak intensity with full sun, delivering ample sunlight for photosynthesis and ensuring robust foliage and flower production. However, it’s important to monitor the sun’s intensity and provide shade or water during hot spells to prevent heat stress.
In fall, the sun starts to wane, signaling plants to slow down and prepare for winter dormancy. Lastly, in winter, the sun’s lower angle and shorter duration of daylight restricts plant growth, making it essential to choose cold-hardy plants or protect sensitive ones.
Understanding the sun’s seasonal variations allows you to plan planting schedules, optimize sun exposure for different crops, and adjust care, accordingly, resulting in many vegetables throughout the changing seasons.
Plan Your Vegetable Garden Layout
By starting small and in a space that you can add your own soil, you can use the square foot gardening method of intensely placing many plants in one area and getting more production from that space than by putting everything the same and in rows.
For each foot of planting, you can grow crops in the garden that keep giving you your favorite vegetables throughout the year.
Even with limited space, you’ll be amazed at the abundance you can cultivate in just one square foot of your garden. Here are some fantastic options for maximizing your productivity:
Leafy Greens: Opt for compact varieties like lettuce, spinach, or kale that thrive in tight quarters. You can harvest multiple rounds of fresh, nutrient-packed greens throughout the season. You can grow 6 lettuce or spinaches in a square or 1 kale.
Herbs: Basil, cilantro, parsley, and mint are excellent choices for small spaces. These aromatic herbs add wonderful flavors to your dishes and can be easily maintained in a square foot garden.
Radishes: These fast-growing root vegetables are perfect for small gardens. They mature quickly, allowing you to enjoy crisp and peppery radishes in just a few weeks. You can grow 9-12 in one square.
Carrots: Choose dwarf carrot varieties that are ideal for container gardening or square foot gardens. With proper spacing, you can grow a handful of carrots that are sweet and crunchy. You can grow 9-12 carrots in each square.
Cherry Tomatoes: Compact tomato plants, such as cherry or patio varieties, flourish in limited space. They produce an abundance of bite-sized tomatoes that are perfect for snacking or salads. Grow one tomato plant in each square.
Peppers: Choose for smaller pepper varieties like bell peppers or chili peppers. These vibrant beauties thrive in containers or raised beds. You can fit 2 pepper plants in each square.
Scallions: These versatile and flavorful onions can be easily grown in a small area. Enjoy the mild onion taste by snipping the green tops as needed. I add these to every corner of my raised bed to add flavor, texture, and to keep bad insects from attacking the other vegetables.
Also, you can get a head start on growing with this mini-course on growing greens and lettuce offered at Create My Garden.
10 Minute A Day Gardening
Pick one task to do each day to keep up with gardening and keep it simple.
10 Minute Fall Gardening
Clean Up: Spend a quick 10 minutes tidying up your veggie garden by removing any dead or decaying plants, weeds, and debris. This helps prevent disease and keeps your garden looking neat.
Harvest Ripe Produce: Take a few minutes to harvest any ripe vegetables and fruits from your garden. Enjoy the fresh flavors right away or preserve them for later use.
Plant Cool-Season Crops: Extend your growing season by planting cool-season crops like lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, and carrots.
Mulch Beds: Apply a layer of mulch around your vegetable beds to help regulate soil temperature and moisture levels. This simple task can make a big difference in maintaining healthy plants.
Protect Tender Plants: If you have delicate or frost-sensitive plants, take a moment to cover them with a protective cloth or row cover to shield them from chilly nights.
Amend Soil: Add compost to your soil to replenish nutrients and improve its structure. This will ensure your vegetable plants have a healthy foundation for growth.
Check for Pests: Take a quick inspection of your plants for any signs of pests or diseases. Addressing issues early on can prevent them from spreading and causing more damage.
Check the watering and be consistent: Watering your fall garden will keep it growing and when it gets cold, the water will insulate the soil and continue to provide warmth.
Test Soil: Consider testing your soil for nutrient levels and pH to ensure optimal conditions for healthy vegetable growth at the end of the summer season and add what is missing before planting out for fall.
Enjoy the Outdoors: Lastly, take a moment to simply enjoy your garden. Sit back, relax, and appreciate the beauty and bounty that it provides. After all, gardening is not just about the tasks, but about the joy it brings.
10 Minute Winter Gardening
Clean Up: Remove any dead plants, fallen fruit, and garden debris to prevent pests and diseases from lingering.
Mulch Beds: Apply a layer of mulch to insulate the soil, retain moisture, and protect plant roots from winter cold.
Protect Tender Plants: Cover sensitive plants with frost cloths or row covers to shield them from freezing temperatures and harsh weather.
Maintain Watering: Adjust watering schedules to accommodate the cooler weather, ensuring plants receive adequate moisture without overwatering.
Plan for Spring: Use this time to reflect on your gardening goals and start planning for next year’s vegetable garden, including crop rotation and layout.
10 Minute Spring Gardening
Clear out debris: Spend a few minutes removing any dead leaves, branches, and other debris that may have accumulated in sandy soil over the winter. This will improve the overall appearance of your garden and reduce the risk of pests and diseases.
Prepare the soil: Take a moment to loosen the soil and remove any weeds. Add compost or organic matter to enrich the soil and improve its structure, providing a healthy foundation for your vegetable plants.
Plant seeds or seedlings: Use your 10 minutes to sow seeds or transplant seedlings into the prepared soil. Choose vegetables that thrive in the spring, such as lettuce, radishes, peas, and carrots.
Water appropriately: Ensure your newly planted seeds or seedlings receive enough moisture without overwatering. Use a watering can or a gentle spray nozzle to water the plants directly at their base.
Mulch the beds: Apply a layer of mulch around your vegetable beds to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. This will create an ideal environment for your plants to thrive.
Monitor for pests: Take a quick look for any signs of pests or insects that may be damaging your plants. Address any issues early on to prevent further damage.
Support climbing plants: If you have climbing vegetables like tomatoes or cucumbers, use this time to install stakes or trellises to support them as they grow.
Fertilize if needed: Assess the nutrient levels of your soil and, if necessary, apply a balanced fertilizer to provide your plants with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.
Prune and trim: Spend a few minutes pruning any dead or damaged branches from trees or shrubs near your veggie garden. This will encourage healthy growth and improve airflow.
Enjoy the process: Gardening is not just about the tasks; it’s a chance to connect with nature and find joy in nurturing your plants. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your garden and the satisfaction of growing your own vegetables.
10 Minute Summer Gardening
Spread Mulch: Take a moment to spread mulch around your plants. Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil, suppresses weeds, and regulates soil temperature. I use organic compost as mulch and nutrients.
Weed Control: Dedicate a few minutes to pulling up any weeds that may be competing with your vegetable plants for nutrients and space.
Watering: Check your plants daily and water them as needed, ensuring they receive enough hydration to withstand the summer heat
Monitor Pests: Keep an eye out for any signs of pests or insects that may be damaging your plants. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
Add organic fertilizer: In between high heat to keep new vegetables growing and producing.
Fresh Vegetables Equals Garden Success
Remember, gardening is a journey of learning and experimentation. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and seek guidance from experienced gardeners. With a few plants, this easy starter garden plan and these 10-minute tasks for each season, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the satisfaction of growing your own fresh produce.