Want to grow your own vegetables, but you’re never home? If you’re one of the persons who can only visit their garden once a week or less, go for a self-managing vegetable patch! With the following planting techniques, you’ll have a perennial vegetable patch… sometimes called the lazy veggie garden! Why? With a thoughtful selection of perennials, and a few insights brought on by permaculture, you’ll avoid nearly all the tiring, repetitive chores.
Growing vegetables without any maintenance?
It’s possible. Have a garden, but at times it’s weeks on end before you can visit it? Select species that don’t need your help to grow well all year long!
Resilient vegetables that don’t require care
Perennial vegetables and also resistant and easy-to-grow varieties will help you set up a vegetable patch that needs neither care nor maintenance.
- Artichoke. Once planted, artichoke needs no follow-up care at all. Opt for the variety called Petit violet which bears many small and flavorful artichokes that are much tastier than other varieties.
- The Daubenton cabbage. A perennial cabbage that is very resilient and productive, even without any watering.
- Herbs. All herb plants will love the poorest of soils and don’t need much water. They’ll all give you something to make your meals even more delicious!
- Winter leek ( Bleu de Solaize variety). A variety that resists diseases very well.
- Potatoes. Simply grow these under a bushel of straw: all you have to do is lift the straw to harvest a few potatoes from underneath!
- Onion and shallot. These bulb plants are very easy to grow and don’t need any water.
Tubers, those forgotten heirloom vegetables
In many of today’s vegetable patches, these are often absent. This is all the more surprising that they don’t require any attention at all apart from the planting!
- Jerusalem artichoke. Note that this one is invasive: mark a spot out for it to the side of your garden.
- Crosnes. If the region you live in has a mild climate, these tubers can survive for years.
- Chufa. This one tastes a bit like coconut.
- Tuber nasturtium. Similarly to the annual varieties, its leaves have a pepper-like flavor, and its tubers can be cooked just like potatoes.
What if you even forget to sow your vegetables sometimes? No problem with the following selection: they’ll do this work on their own!
- Tree onion and sand leek. Small bulblets appear at the end of their flower stems. The gardener would either harvest the underground bulb, or let the bulblets fall to the ground and root.
- Wild leek. Same thing as for onion and sand leek. Perennial leek propagates naturally from offshoots that appear at the base. Split these from the clump and plant them again further off.
- Arugula. A small-leaved lettuce that will add a spicy touch to your meals.
- Chard. This biennial is either harvested in the first year, or left to go to seed during the second year. Even if you don’t care for it at all, it’ll reappear in the following years on its own.
- Escarole Cornet d’Anjou. This heirloom variety is highly resistant. You can harvest it in fall since it copes well with mild frost.
- Cherry tomato! This comes as a surprise, doesn’t it? A cherry tomato that drops to the ground will sprout in the following spring.
Since you don’t want to waste time weeding, do the next best thing with a few of them: eat them!
- Good King Henry goosefoot. It tastes very similar to spinach.
- Stinging nettle. Delicious in a soup. Contains high levels of minerals and vitamin C. Don’t pull it out!
Don’t bend over: select climbing varieties
Every gardener dreams of simply walking through maintenance-free garden to harvest veggies without bending down.
- Pole beans (highly productive varieties such as Fortex or Phenomenon).
- Pole beans and snow peas (varieties like Corne de belier).
Growing vegetables with common sense for less work
Watering and weeding are the two most critical chores in the garden, but they sure do need a lot of time! The wily, lazy gardener will do anything to reduce or even eliminate these tasks.
Reducing watering and weeding
Even if most of the plants you’ve selected don’t need much water to begin with, there’s yet another trick to reduce the need to water even more: mulch. It has scores of advantages:
- It will lock moisture in. Mulch on soil means evaporation and transpiration are reduced. Soil stays moist for longer. Also, feel free to mulch with your kitchen scraps: they also contain extra water that benefits plants. Another trick a lazy gardener should remember: when harvesting your fava beans, break the pods open immediately and leave them on the ground for mulch.
- Weeding will get even easier. Thanks to mulch, weed germination is hindered. Moreover, they’re much easier to pull out since they’ve wasted a lot of energy threading through the layer of mulch.
Tips and tricks to make work easier
Ready to have a maintenance-free vegetable patch, but you still want to grow a few veggies that need watering several times a week? Here are a few tips:
- Plant at just the right time. For instance, planting just before a forecast of rain will ensure most seeds will sprout.
- For vegetables, only water when it’s really needed (for instance, in case of heat wave). Roots will naturally go down deeper to find water. They’ll also grow to be more drought-proof than ever!
- Only sow spring and winter lettuce. If you plant lettuce in summer, you’ll have to water constantly to keep them from going to seed.
- Remember the herbs (such as lavender, rosemary…). These won’t need much care.
- Also, everytime you drop by the garden, fill in a watering can to water lettuce and cabbage. Mulch will keep that moisture underground for longer.
- Growing carrots is possible if you sow radishes and lettuce nearby. Indeed, these two will naturally thin carrot sprouts away, and remaining carrots will grow better once you harvest the lettuce and radish.
- For tomatoes, plant lettuce at the foot of each plant. This will keep the tomato plants in cool soil.
All right! All set to succeed in the vegetable patch… without doing anything!
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