It’s finally May, so here in Southwest Virginia that means it’s time to get those warm weather crops in the ground.  Just don’t get overwhelmed with your garden.  Gardening is a tough job, and it can be very time consuming, but if you want to garden and don’t have a ton of time to devote to it, here are a few tips to help you be successful anyway.

  1. Plan:  Make sure to have a garden plan in place and record where you are planting things.  This can have many benefits, the least of which is knowing what is growing where.  Also, as you are developing a garden plan, make sure you put your plants somewhere you can see them, that is easily accessible to you.  One idea is to plant your garden near the door you use most often.
  2. Kiss: Keep it small & simple!  You don’t have to “go big or go home” in gardening.  If you don’t have the time or ability to maintain a large garden plot, size it down.  If you try to overdo things, you will often fail because you don’t have the time to devote to it.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a small successful garden than a large garden I don’t get anything from.
  3. Set yourself up for success by starting off with the right plants, in the right place, at the right time! Planting “warm season” plants for the summer and “cool season” plants in the early spring or late fall will ensure that your plants don’t die because of heat or lack of heat. Also, when growing, don’t forget to group similar plants together that have similar needs.
  4. Try some seasoning: Herbs are another plant that can add spice and flavor to your garden and can also be low maintenance.
  5. Check on your plants daily.  The best way to keep your plants healthy and happy is to find diseases, pests, and weeds early.   Also, garden breaks can help refresh your mind and give you more energy to get back to your busy schedule.  It’s true! Time spent in your garden is good for your mind, your body, and your garden.
  6. Don’t forget to water. Fruits and vegetables suffer in flavor, texture, and overall health when they are not properly watered.
  7. Mulch! Mulch keeps weeds out and reduces evaporation. It should be applied 3-4 inches deep. Light colored mulch can also buffer soil temperatures. It also keeps some pests—such as slugs and snails—away.  If you don’t have access to mulch, use cardboard or several layers of black and white newsprint.  Just make sure to anchor it down so it doesn’t blow away.
  8. Use appropriate soil: Vegetables do best with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.
  9. Finally, HAVE FUN! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; that’s part of the learning process. You can do it!

I hope these tips have inspired you to try gardening even if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to a large garden.  Small gardens can be amazing, and as you may have noticed, take up much less of your free time and emotional energy than a huge garden.  So, why not start today?  Even a small garden will offer tons of vegetables for you to enjoy all throughout the year.