“I’d love to have a garden but it’s just too much work” or so I thought. For years, I tried amending the soil, digging out weeds, turning dirt, fertilizing… ’til my back was sore, my whole body was tired, frustrated with constant work, and not getting the results I wanted until I figured out…
Low Maintenance Gardening: How to Grow Up Instead of Down
Container growing is the easiest way to regulate all conditions from the soil to the weeds, up higher makes it easier on your body to work with, and regulate the water used.
Here are my steps:
- I dug everything out (can do in stages) of my beds and lower the dirt level to 3 inches below the border for adding mulch.
- Covered all my dirt with black construction grade trash bags (or you can buy cover plastic for more money). I like the bags as even after you put them down & cover, you can sweep over mulch open up to remove anything that comes up through it, and recover when done.
- I bought 10 big barrel pots, drilled holes in sides near the bottom for drainage & enough organic soil to fill them – it takes about 1 big bag per barrel to fill to the top. Dirt will settle some.
- Space them alone the beds with enough room between to walk around.
- Fill in and cover the ground with bark mulch – about 3 inches deep to prevent other things from growing.
- Change out sprinkler heads with drip heads with tubing & drip sprinklers
- Plant seeds/plants in barrels
- Add trellises for those things that need them such as cucumbers and such
- Add one sprinkler drip to each barrel.
- Set a watering timer every day for several minutes.
Using this system, you don’t get very many weeds – easy to see and pull (I do it about once a week), lots of food/plants/flowers, up high for easy picking or clipping, no other real attention is needed.
The picture is of a container step garden I built: wood boards cut to length from Home Depot, wood screws, stakes to hold boards in place against a wall, dirt to fill, & drippers scattered throughout.
What Should I Grow?
Now, that is the real question. Being a nutritionist, I choose organic high nutrient density foods. This cuts down on my food bill and pays for itself in the food I get back.
Here is what I grow:
- Bell peppers
- Several types of lettuce
I do also have several trees that are in the ground – avocado, orange, and nectarine trees. These too could be grown in the barrels but will limit their size and their harvest.