My best practical gardening tips
Growing your own food can be a messy business. And that's ok! You don't have to be perfect to make it work. I have a few gardening tips that help me keep everything on track, while also embracing the chaos!
An older friend of mine came to visit a few years ago and we took a stroll around the garden. He has been growing vegetables for a long time and said many nice things about my kitchen garden. One of the most important things he said was:
"I'm really impressed by how quickly you found your own rhythm in the garden."
He told me that it probably took him a decade to find a rhythm that suited him as a person, and his garden. I have thought a lot about this. How important it is to find your own way of growing vegetables. You need inspiration of course, and it's important to shape that inspiration in a way that fits your needs and wishes.
My best gardening tips
This is my eighth very intensive growing season here in my kitchen garden. I'm so happy that I have been able to create exactly what I wanted – an edible garden that delivers fresh food all year round. I grow in my free time, with just as many time constraints and general frustrations as any other parent with gardening dreams might experience.
I decided to list my favorite gardening tips that help me achieve my goals. I hope that they can help you balance family life, work and gardening too!
Mulching: Mulching is by far one of the best tips I have. Mulching helps keep the soil fertilized, gets rid of weeds and lets me cut down on the digging in my garden. I would never have been able to grow this large garden on my own without it.
Wintersowing: About a fourth of all my sowings are ready in March. I do most of them in winter, in cold soil. Wintersowings help me find time for everything else I need to do later in spring.
Pre-seeding: Pre-seeding plants and planting them later makes everything easier for me. I simply don't have that many new fragile sowings outside that I need to keep a close eye on.
Polytunnel: It's such a pleasure to work in the polytunnel. I can grow all of my leafy greens here during the winter, without having to worry about the snow and the cold.
Crop rotation: My crop rotation system is pretty relaxed, but I do have a four year-system which helps me remember what to put where, and when. I keep track of my legumes, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. I move the rest around as I please.
Bokashi: I can't say enough good things about bokashi. Making bokashi is a great way to take care of the kitchen scraps. I think it's really important to do many small jobs in the garden instead of trying to take on too much at once. That's why I have smaller bokashi piles instead of a large compost pile that I regularly need to turn.
One thing at a time: My most beloved mantra is the saying "one thing at a time" and I try to think about this principle in my gardening too. One small sowing in February could give you 22 pounds (10 kilos) of red cabbage next winter. I try to stick to doing one thing each day and feel content with that, rather than pushing myself to do more than I actually feel that I can handle.
Read more about growing vegetables at home: Growing your own vegetables - for beginners
Read about sowing seeds in winter: Sowing seeds in winter
Last but not least, I would like to give praise to messiness. I got a nice text from Maria Strömberg Bååth who takes the pictures for many of my recipes here on the blog. She's building her garden larger, by what it seems like 300 % percent this year and said this about her new project:
"How am I supposed to keep track of everything?! My god, I have seed packets and little notes everywhere and I can't remember what to do when and which vegetables I sowed where. Haha, it's complete chaos! Maybe it's just me, or is it this messy in the beginning?"
I always thought that I would be a tidy gardener. That we need to keep our garden neatly organized simply because everything looks so perfect in all of the garden magazines. I was quite stressed during the first two years, since I didn't feel completely on top of things and felt bad about not being able to live up to my own expectations.
But then I just decided to let go and embrace the messiness instead. I don't feel ashamed that I don't know how everything works or that I haven't organized my garden perfectly anymore. I follow these gardening tips but I still sow what I want, without tags and all of that. I buy all of the seeds I want (probably too many) and I don't really plan my projects in any great detail. I don't weigh my fertilizer and I'm pretty relaxed about my crop rotation. And I'm so much happier because of it! Just letting go of all the musts and finding my own rhythm really helps!
Save time and energy by using the bokashi method in your garden, see how fast bokashi turns into soil in this video:
Do what you want!
I understand that it might feel overwhelming to be in the middle of a new gardening project. You are probably wondering how on earth you can make it work. The best thing might actually be to just let it go for a while. Do what you want instead! And grow in a way that suits your unique wants and needs. I hope these gardening tips help. Good luck!