Sustainable Gardening HACKS for Time-Poor Gardeners

Sustainable Gardening HACKS for Time-Poor Gardeners

10 Sustainable Gardening hacks to ensure your garden is quick and easy to maintain for sustainable long-term growth. Do you want to grow an edible garden and harvest delicious organic food straight from your own backyard but… you don’t have enough time in the day? Whether you are a busy parent or your spare time is already devoted to hobbies, sports, growing your business, or other priorities and you want to ensure your garden is easy to maintain for sustainable long-term growth, then these Sustainable Gardening Hacks are perfect for you!

Lazy gardening is actually an amazing thing! It means you are working smarter, not harder, and have systems in place to work with nature to get abundant harvests.

So let’s not waste any time and get straight into it…

1. Plant Perennials

Perennial plants are ones that you plant once and they will continue to give you harvests for many years to come. They are the ultimate hack for sustainable gardening! So this is probably my number one tip for lazy or time-poor gardeners.

Perennials are plants such as Fruit Trees, Berries, Bananas, Sweet Potatoes, Rhubarb, Artichoke, and Asparagus. Aromatics such as Ginger and Tumeric, and Herbs such as Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, and Mint. These you plant once and each year they will produce more and more food. There are also many perennial versions of our much-loved annuals such as Perennial Basil, and Perpetual Spinach. This year I have added Egyptian Walking Onions, more Berries, Fruit Trees, Asparagus and Artichoke.

I am converting more and more of my gardens to perennials because not only does that mean I have more time to spend developing new gardens or pouring hours into creating more gardening content but, Perennial Plants also allow a seamless transition and continuous supply of food. Perennials will either produce all year round or they will have certain times of the year when they are fruiting or producing. If you want to really level it up you can plan out when your perennials are ready and ripe and plan to fill in the gaps with other perennials that will be productive during these gaps in the season. For example, my citrus are ready in winter, then over summer I have berries, and in autumn I have Feijoas. My plan is to have a continuous supply of fruit all year round so I will continue to select plants that are ready during the gaps.

2. Chop and Drop

This is a technique of mulching and composting that I use in my urban food forest. Any time I trim my plants or remove any annuals I simply chop up the leaves and branches and drop them around the garden allowing the plant matter to break down and feed my plants. This is very easy to do and I don’t have to move plant material anywhere. It protects the soil from the sun, suppresses weeds and it feeds my soil to help grow more and more food! It’s a win-win situation and saves a lot of time. Fruit trees also love the fungal properties that rotting sticks and branches provide.

This technique works best with a food forest situation rather than a veggie patch, as it would be much harder to spread the plant matter and not cover small seedlings. This may also attract slaters or woodlice which will help break down the plant matter but these little critters are not something you want in your veggie patch.


3. Direct Sow Seeds

This is my favourite way to plant seeds. No, it’s not the most effective, but it saves a lot of time. I find direct sowing seeds straight into the garden can take a bit longer for them to germinate because it might not be the right soil temperatures but once they pop up they will usually be stronger plants. Sowing in seed trays means you can control the conditions and bring them inside which will encourage them to pop up sooner but you need to baby them and care for them. Harden them off by taking them outside so they can get used to outside temperatures before you plant them in the garden. They are just more fiddly and do require more attention. So where I can I go with the survival of the fittest approach and plant a few extra seeds.

4. Grow Soil

If you are time-poor and only have small amounts of time to allocate to your gardens, I would definitely put a big chunk of that into improving your soil and creating soil-improving systems. This will go a long way in creating sustainable gardens. Healthy nutrient-rich soil means your plants will grow faster, they will be stronger and more resilient and they will not succumb to pests and diseases as easily. If your soil is poor and lacks nutrients you will end up spending more time trying to keep your plants alive, more time watering and more time babying your plants.

5. Mulch

Following on from growing soil – keeping your gardens well mulched is a great system to help build soil for sustainable gardens. Mulch will start to break down over time and feed your soil. Mulching also helps keep moisture in so your gardens won’t need as much watering and they help suppress weeds. Weeds are not friends with time-poor or lazy gardeners. So having a thick layer of mulch will help reduce the time needed for weeding and also the weeds that do grow will be so much easier to pull out.

6. Make it Close and Convenient

Choosing a location for your garden can be a make or break for the time-poor or lazy gardener. If you decide to grow your veggie patch or garden down the back of your property or behind the shed, it may start off okay whilst you are full of enthusiasm and feeling inspired, but eventually it will be out of sight and out of mind…. this happens to me all the time and my property is just a suburban block. I plant all my low-maintenance plants such as perennials and fruit trees all in the outer parts of my property and the annuals or plants that require more attention or regular harvesting, within view of my kitchen. In permaculture, we call these zones and it makes so much sense. When it’s raining, dark or you have had a long day, traipsing out to the veggie patch might not be high on the list. But, if you have your gardens close to your house and within view, you might notice something that needs harvesting or attention, and your garden will naturally receive more love and attention because of that. Therefore it will be more productive.

Even If this means you start off with small container gardens and once you master that move on to larger more permanent spaces.

7. Grow Wild

Creating diversity and growing lots of plants all together will not only do amazing things for the number of beneficial insects in your garden, but it can also be a lot more low maintenance. Conventional gardens with neat edges, straight rows, and symmetrical layouts will take a lot more time to maintain. By creating a garden that is a little wilder it will look lush and have less room for weeds to take up home. Even if you do get some weeds they blend in and don’t look too messy and hey, some of them may even be edible or provide flowers for the bees. Edible ground covers are great for this.

8. Let Plants go to Seed

If you let some of your plants go to flower and seed you will have plants popping up all on their own next season. This is another way you can create sustainable garden systems. The great thing about self-sown seeds is that they stay dormant in the soil until they get the right conditions to grow and then they shoot up. With absolutely no effort on your behalf. I have lettuce, tomatoes, basil, and edible flowers pop up nearly every year. Free FOOD! This technique can be amazing but it can also be a little wild at times. It’s important to try to contain the seeds on your property. I let a celery plant go to seed once and I had celery popping up in everywhere!

9. Easy Watering

Watering can take up a lot of time, especially during the warmer months. And if you run out of time or can’t be bothered then you could lose your plants after just one day in the peak of summer (especially if you live here in Perth!). Thinking about watering and creating sustainable watering systems will go such a long way to saving time in the garden.

Some great tips are to install automatic timers and drip lines. Another is to ensure you have a hose nearby to your gardens and make it a retractable hose! Nothing puts you off watering than thinking about unraveling and putting away a hose. A retractable hose can be out and back in seconds and it has honestly been a game-changer for me in my garden!

Mulching will also help with water retention.

10. Get the Plant Selection Right

Selecting the right plants will go a long way toward creating a low-maintenance sustainable garden. We talked about choosing perennials earlier but there are also other plant selection criteria than can really help you grow an abundant garden with less effort.

  • Choose local or native plants. Plants that thrive in your local area will be much more adapted to the conditions and will be easier to grow. Native edible plants are often interesting and unique additions to your garden. They will also attract your local pollinators and wildlife which is a bonus!
  • Choose low-maintenance plants. Some plants require more care and upkeep than others. And some will have a lot more pests and diseases than others. This will vary from place to place.
  • Tomatoes – require staking and tying and are susceptible to pests and diseases. I often grow cherry tomatoes as I find them a lot easier to grow.
  • Stone fruit – Trees such as Nectarines, Peaches, and Plums have soft skin and can be vulnerable to many pests and diseases. Birds, fruit flies, rats, bats, etc. They may require netting or individually bagging fruit to ensure you get a harvest. I have chosen citrus as they have thicker skins and I find them a little more hardy and low maintenance. I have a lot of citrus for that reason such as Lemon, Lime, Blood Orange, Finger Limes, Blood Limes, Kumquat, and Lemonade.
  • Herbs and fragrant plants such as Lemon Verbena, Rosemary, and Ginger are often left alone by pests and are easy to grow.

This is where it is a great idea to visit small local nurseries where you can get helpful advice on what grows well in your local climate.

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10 Edible Plants to Sow in March – Autumn Garden

10 Edible Plants to Sow in March – Autumn Garden

These 10 edible plants to sow in March will get your Autumn garden off to a productive start. These edible plants can all be grown in containers or the garden so you can grow more of your own food at home. I am gardening in Perth, Australia and these 10 edible plants to sow in March are great transition plants to bridge the gap between summer and winter to help you produce a continuous supply of food at home.

There is nothing better than walking out into your garden to pick and harvest your own fresh, nutrient-rich food. No chaotic shops are needed!

WATCH 10 Edible Plants to Sow in March

Top 10 Edible Plants to Sow in March

1. Radish

Raphanus sativus

Radish are so easy to grow, they can handle a range of soils and environments, and they are also one of the quickest veggies to grow! From seed to table in just 4 weeks. Also, the whole plant is edible. The roots are delicious fresh in a salad, or, added to your roast veggies, and the leaves can be chucked into stirfries or blitz to make pesto or chimichurri to dress your salads and meals. There are a lot of different varieties of Radish that range in flavour, so if you don’t enjoy the pepperiness of Radish, choose the white or light coloured varieties. Radish also makes delicious pickles and you all know I’m obsessed with pickles.

If the Radish is not harvested it will send up a flower and create seed pods. The seed pods are also edible when they are young or they can be left to dry and save the seeds for a sustainable food supply.

The thing I love most about Radish is you can plant them in between your veggies. They grow so fast that they are ready to pick before the other vegetables take up too much space. This means you maximise your space to grow more food.

2. Rainbow Chard

Beta vulgaris

Rainbow chard doesn’t do too well in the heat of summer so most climates will only grow chard over the cooler months. Rainbow chard has large leaves so it can lose moisture and wilt quickly. If you plant Chard over the summer choose a shady location. Autumn is a great time to sow your Rainbow Chard seeds. Rainbow Chard is super versatile in the kitchen and it brightens up the winter garden with its’ neon coloured stems.

Rainbow Chard can be used in nearly every meal as a substitute for spinach.

3. Lettuce

Lactuca sativa

Lettuce can be a delicate plant to grow and doesn’t tolerate the heat well. Autumn is a great time to plant lettuce in the garden. If you want to grow lettuce during summer then find a cool spot that receives shade during the hot afternoons. Otherwise, it will just go to flower and seed if it gets too hot and then it tastes awful and bitter. Due to its’ delicate nature, lettuce is best sown in seed trays and planted out into the garden when it is a seedling. Little seeds and seedlings will be susceptible to pests such as slugs, snails and slaters. Check out natural pest management for tips on how to reduce loss from pests.

4. Beetroot

Beta vulgaris

The whole Beetroot plant is edible and the leaves can be used just like chard or spinach. You can pick off the outer leaves just one or two from each plant while they grow to get a prolonged harvest.

Fun fact: Rainbow chard is actually part of the beetroot family!

You can use the roots grated fresh in a salad, roasted beetroot is sooo good, especially the yellow and white varieties they are so sweet! Beetroot is also delicious pickled and canned to preserve the harvest.

I have planted the White, Golden, and Chioggia varieties. The Chioggia has beautiful candy cane stripes. It is also very sweet.

5. Spinach

Spinacia oleracea

Spinach is another great Autumn veggie to plant and will offer you an abundance of greens for the rest of the year. There are many different types of spinach and a few that I like to grow are the Malabar Climbing Spinach – it seems to do well here in Perth as it is more like a succulent type of plant. Perpetual Spinach is also another great producer that can offer you greens for most, if not all of the year.

6. Onions

Allium cepa

Onions are a staple vegetable to grow for adding flavour to meals and there are many different varieties. Planting onions randomly throughout your gardens can help deter pests due to their strong scent. Egyptians walking onions are a great perennial onion variety. They grow onion bulbs on the base like most onions but the difference is, they also grow mini bulbs on the tips too and as these grow they get heavy and bend over to touch the ground and then this bulb will start growing so they sort of move around the garden which is pretty neat! Plus, they just regrow on their own which supports a sustainable garden.

7. Rocket

Eruca vesiculate

Rocket or Arugula is a great leafy green to grow because it is fast-growing and it can be added to a range of meals. Add fresh baby rocket leaves on top of your meals for added flavour and nutrition. Rocket will get quite bitter if it doesn’t get enough water and also will bolt if it’s still too warm. If you are sowing it early in the season or in summer, grow it somewhere with a little shade. I sow little patches of Rocket throughout my garden at different times to have a continuous supply.

8. Rosella

Hibiscus sabdariffa

Rosella is a type of hibiscus that has edible leaves that you can use as a substitute for spinach. The flower buds are edible and are great for making tea, syrups and jams.

Edible Plants to Sow in March

9. Fennel

Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel is a top edible plant to grow at home as the whole plant is edible. During the warmer months, Fennel plants mainly produce leaves/fronds and flowers which are great flavour enhancements for meals or pickling. The fronds can be used to make a delicious pesto. Once the weather cools down in Autumn the bulbs will start to bulk up. Fennel is so crunchy and fresh and pairs really well with citrus. Roasted fennel is also super delicious. There are two main varieties green Florence and bronze. The green Fennel does tend to go a little wilder than the bronze.

10. Chives

Allium schoenoprasum

Chives have a delicious onion flavour and produce purple flowers that are also edible. Chives are another edible plant to mix in your garden beds and help deter pests naturally.

chive

Comment below if you are going to grow any of these Edible Plants to Sow in March πŸŒ±πŸ‘‡

10 tips to Produce more Food from your Edible Home Garden

10 tips to Produce more Food from your Edible Home Garden

Today I’m going to share with you 10 tips to grow more food from your edible home garden. These tips are so easy and you can implement them today to boost your garden’s production. No matter whether you are renting or living in an apartment.

It is no secret that we are facing a very real food security and shortage with many supermarket shelves completely empty. There has never been a better time to start growing your own food or ramp up your home gardens production. These tips will help you maximize the amount of fresh homegrown food you can produce from home. Starting NOW!

WATCH 10 tips to Produce more Food

10 tips to Produce more Food at Home

1. Trim your Herbs

Especially if they are starting to flower. Herbs such as Basil, Mint, and Thyme can all be grown in pots, and trimming the tops will promote a bigger bushier plant. When plants get hot, stressed, or are just left to just grow, they will send off flowers to produce seeds for another generation. Trimming off these seeds will let your herbs know that it’s not time yet, and to keep producing. Just chuck the tops and seeds back in the garden and they will sprout new plants, dry or preserve your herbs, or pop the purple stems in vinegar and make a vibrant basil infusion! You can then use this to make salad dressings by mixing with a little olive oil and lemon juice.

2. Regularly Plant “quick-to-grow” Crops

Quick-growing crops are great to continuously interplant in your garden to get quick wins. Edible plants such as Radish and Rocket are super quick to germinate and grow. Plant radish in the gaps of your garden for quick and easy food production. Radish is ready from seed to table in just 28 days and is one of the quickest things you can grow! Radish not only provides fresh crunchy vegetables to add to salads but you can also eat the leafy tops by making pesto or chimichurri. If you are not a fan of the spicey radish, then try them with your roast veggies! So sweet and delicious!

3. Succession Planting

A little planning goes a long way in an edible home garden. If you know your veggies will be finishing up soon, plant new seeds to have seedlings ready to go. You can plant your new seedling out before you have pulled out the old ones so that you can transition straight away and prevent empty spaces from going to waste without producing food. I also like to grow different varieties so I plant each type two weeks apart to help stagger the crops.

4. Hand Pollinate

In an ideal world we will have lots of bees and pollinators in our home gardens to do the work for us. This isn’t always the case, especially if you live in an apartment or your gardens are new. Hand-pollinating can help ensure more of your fruit and veggies are pollinated and set to form full-sized fruit. We definitely want to encourage bees and pollinators by planting flowers but hand-pollinating can be an added insurance. This works best on plants such as Melon, Squash, Zucchini, and Pumpkin. Click here for more info on how to hand pollinate.

5. Feed your Plants

Whether you make homemade compost teas, worm wee, fresh compost, dried Banana Peel, compost manure, or use organic liquid seaweed. Regularly feeding your plants 1-2 times per month can accelerate the growth and boost the health of your soil.

6. Harvest Crops Regularly

Your plant’s main goal is actually not to make delicious food to feed us humans… but to produce seeds to secure its future generation. If the plant feels it has enough fruit or vegetables produced with seeds it will slow or stop producing. Regularly picking your harvest when it is just ready will make the plant think that it has lost its seeds to predators so it will continue to produce more and more. So try not to leave things too long on the plant once they look ready. This also reduces the risk of other critters nabbing your produce first too.

7. Learn more about Root to Shoot

Conventionally 30-50%, maybe even more of the edible plants are discarded. Crops such as Beetroot leaves, Carrot tops, Brassica leaves and stems, Sweet Potato leaves, male Pumpkin or Zucchini flowers, and so much more! Learn what parts of the plant are edible and you could double the amount of food you have in your garden in a matter of hours!! I have some recipes on my blog but this is something we dive deeper into inside my membership.

8. Plant Perennials

Perennials are plants that last longer than 2 years. These may be a little slower to establish but once they do, they produce an abundance of food with just a little maintenance. These are plants such as Berries, Fruit trees, Artichoke, Asparagus, perennial Spinach varieties, Rhubarb and so much more! Having perennials in your garden will help you maintain your food supply. I also have an article on A-Z edible perennials available inside my membership.

9. Stack in Time and Space

Use the space you have in your edible home garden to grow both horizontally and vertically. This can maximize the amount of food you can grow. Having a trellis at the back of your garden or container can help create structure and expand your food production capabilities. I also let plants use my fruit trees to grow up. Whether that’s beans, tomatoes, melons, or pumpkins. Growing vertically can double the amount of food you can grow in a single space. Stacking in time is just like succession planting. Plant crops that will be starting to take off as the previous ones are finishing up. If you have a vertical crop that may produce more shade on the lower levels this can also provide a cooler climate to grow some more sun-sensitive crops such as lettuce. Especially in these hot summers.

10. Utilise Space with Container Gardens

Even if you have a large veggie patch, container gardens still have plenty of use. Container gardens are great for growing prolific plants that can be a little invasive. These are plants such as Mint, Nasturtium, and Sunchokes. Not only will you get lots of food but your precious garden space won’t be overrun with the weed-like growth of these plants. Containers are also good for maximizing the sun and shade. You can move them around during the year to follow the sun or reduce the amount of direct sunlight in summer.

Start TODAY with these 10 tips to produce more food from your edible home garden! Let me know if any of these tips sparked inspiration with you in the comments below.

Dried Banana Peel Fertilizer

Dried Banana Peel Fertilizer

Turn leftover Banana peels into a natural dried banana fertilizer to grow an abundance of fruit and vegetables.

My name is Holly and I am on a mission to create a self-sufficient edible garden in my suburban property. I am converting grass into thriving urban permaculture gardens.

It’s important to reduce the amount of organic matter going to landfills because when it does go to the landfill, it is piled up and starved of oxygen. This process is not conducive to breaking down our scraps and they end up producing methane gas, which is not good for our environment. That’s where composting and turning our scraps into natural fertilizers not only boosts the health and production of our gardens but is also better for our planet.

Watch how to make Dried Banana Peel Fertilizer

Which plants will benefit the most from banana peel fertilizer?

Banana peels have potassium which is an essential nutrient for promoting more flowers and fruit on plants. Prioritize your dried banana peel fertilizer on your flowering plants such as Pumpkin, squash, capsicum, and fruit trees. Promoting flowers will offer more chances of fruit!

Having potassium on hand can help when you have deficiencies in the soil. Potassium deficiency can show as leaves turning yellow one falling off especially the older leaves.

If you are growing your own bananas and you get to harvest the fruit, then you can use your peels to feed the plants and create your own fully self-sufficient gardening system!

You can also make a banana peel fertilizer by soaking the peels in water. I talk more about that on my video about 15 natural fertilizers so definitely check that out for more ways to turn your homegrown produce into fertilizers to grow more of your own food.

How to make dried banana peel fertilizer?

To make dried banana fertilizer take your banana peels and lay them out on a tray to dry. You want to keep them somewhere warm and dry until they turn black and crispy. Natural Sunlight is great and will take 1-2 days to dry depending on the temperatures. You could also use a dehydrator to remove the moisture.

Chop the peels up a little to help speed up the drying process. Remove the ends and compost them as these will take a lot longer to dry.

Then once they are completely dry and crumbly. Crush them up into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder/spice grinder.

Sprinkle a couple of TBSP around your fruit and veggie plants. It’s that easy! You can also add 2 TBSP to a jar of water and mix to pour around your plants.

Simple Pickled Red Onion

Simple Pickled Red Onion

This simple homemade pickled red onion recipe is easy and delicious! I can easily demolish a jar of pickled red onions in a week. They just get better and better as they continue to pickle and infuse. You can eat these pickled red onions on absolutely anything!! And I mean anything…Top on salads, stirfries, curry, tacos, noodles, cheese, and crackers or in sandwiches. They also make beautiful, delicious gifts for your friends and family.

Watch how to make Pickled Red Onions

Simple Pickled Red Onions

simple pickled red onions

Quick and easy pickled red onions add flavour to any meal. Add your seasonal garden herbs such as Fennel, Dill or Chilli to boost the flavours.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Red Onions
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Raw Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Water

Instructions

  1. Finely slice the red onions - using a mandoline is the easiest option.
  2. Cram as many red Onions into a clean sterilised jar.
  3. In a saucepan add the vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mix starts to simmer.
  4. Add any extra flavours to the jar such as chilli, fennel flowers, fennel fronds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, or peppercorns ( 1tsp per jar).
  5. Pour over the liquid and secure the lid.
  6. Allow cooling for one hour and place in the fridge.

    Notes

    To sterlise the jars place in a hot dishwasher run or wash and heat in the over for 10-15 at 110 degrees celcius.

    You can swap and use just one type of vinegar if you prefer.

    Use within 3 weeks.

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    Rosemary and Herb Salt

    Rosemary and Herb Salt

    Rosemary and herb salt is a quick and easy way to preserve your homegrown herbs to use throughout the year. Herb finishing salts, add so much flavour to meals in a quick and convenient way. Try Rosemary and herb salt on your roast vegetables for a delicious boost of flavour.

    Why Grow Rosemary?

    Rosemary is such a versatile herb and works well with both sweet and savoury dishes. It has a fragrant, pine like aroma. Rosemary offers so many beneficial relationships within your garden. Rosemary is a hardy, drought tolerant, ever green perennial herb. A fantastic staple to have growing in any edible garden. Rosemary also has many healing properties, so it is a handy plant to have near the house or in a kitchen garden.

    When to Harvest Herbs?

    The best time of day to harvest your herbs is first thing in the morning. This is when the plants are hydrated and full of life. As the day goes on, they will lose moisture and not be as fresh and vibrant. Early in the morning, the bees are not yet active. As the sun comes up and the dew drys, the bees will be about in a hive of activity. So, if you do pick later in the day, just be cautious not stress them out and avoid getting stung.

    Yield: 1 cup

    Rosemary and Herb Salt

    rosemary salt
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Additional Time 2 hours
    Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup of Salt
    • 1 cup chopped herbs (Rosemary, Parsley, Fennel Frond)

    Instructions

    1. Rinse herbs, remove stalks and roughly chop.
    2. Add to a mixer and blitz until breadcrumb consistency (or leave chunky if you would like too)
    3. Add in salt and blitz quickly to combine.
    4. Spread on to parchment and dry in the oven or dehydrator at 45 degrees celsius until dry. Stir through after one hour to loosen up the mix and allow it to dry faster. The length of time will depend on the water content of the herbs (approx 2 hours). The mixture will go a lighter green colour.
    5. Once dry add to a clean airtight jar.

    Notes

    • The colour may fade over time
    • Try herbs such as Thyme, Mint, Sage, Chilli, Oregano

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    • Simple and easy recipes from garden to plate
    • Work with nature and not against it
    • Monthly masterclasses to dive deeper into topics
    • Permaculture principles and techniques
    • Creative and nourishing recipes
    • Learn what parts of the plant are edible to maximise your food production
    • Learn how to cook and preserve the food you grow from root to shoot with nothing going waste