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How to Have a Low Maintenance Vegetable Garden

Are you a beginning gardener or don’t have a lot of time to keep a garden? Here are some great ideas for a low maintenance vegetable garden.

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Lately, I’ve talked to several people about growing their own food and they have no idea where to begin so I’ve helped them out by telling them about how easy a low maintenance garden can be and some vegetables for beginning gardeners.  Since we are covered with pollen here in North Carolina, it’s a sign that it’s about time to plant.

You may have a place you want to plant a garden, but when it comes to actually planting many people don’t know where to start.  So…this is for all you beginner gardeners so you can be successful.

I’ve had a garden since we bought our house about 8 years ago. It’s been pretty small, but I have a new one this year that’s much bigger and I’m so excited!  These will all be in my garden!

overhead view of vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, basil and mushrooms

Low Maintenance Vegetable Garden

1. Make it small.

If you are new to gardening or don’t have a lot of time just start small. Garden planning should be your first step. Select a few vegetables that you know you love to eat. You can take your time and learn how to take care of those before adding to them. You can use raised beds or pots and just add soil. I know it’s hard to decide, but every year I make a plan for my garden and always edit it down.

2. Buy plants from a local garden center.

Many vegetables are easy to start from seed and others are more delicate and need to be started indoors. I NEVER start seed indoors, I prefer to buy the plants a the local nursery on those that are more delicate. However, several vegetables are easy to start from seeds outdoors. I’ve indicated below which vegetables you should start from seed and which you should buy. Indoor seed starting can be fun once you have more experience.

3. Select low maintenance vegetables that are easy to grow.

Having a garden and growing vegetables can be a way to lower stress, anxiety and despression. Just getting outside in the sunshine with your hands in the soil can make you happier. However, picking the wrong plants to grow could make you frustrated. Here are some that are super easy to grow and keep alive.

Cucumbers (Seeds)

These are a very easy plant to grow and definitely a low maintenance vegetable. I love making cucumber salad too.  You just follow the instructions on the back of the seed package.  They require a lot of water so you’ll want to water these more than other plants.  They grow on a vine that creeps on the soil so make sure you leave room between plants. You’ll also want to pick these before they get big.  Don’t let them grow too big, they don’t taste as good!

Tomatoes  (Plant)

This is a great place to start.  They are so easy and don’t take a lot of effort.  If you buy seed packets, you’ll need to start these in the house because they are delicate.  My recommendation is DON’T!  I’ve done this before and it requires a lot of work.  I can do it if I need to, but it’s just as easy to go buy some little plants.   You can get them at the local nursery for a good price.  I only have 3-4 tomato plants and buying the seeds and indoor growing kit can get expensive. Make sure to pick out a variety. My kids love cherry tomatoes.

Peppers (Plant)

Peppers are very similar to tomatoes. You’ll need to start these plants inside unless you buy the plants. You can try green, but I like to grow red, orange, and yellow since they are more expensive in the store.

Green Beans (Seeds)

These are an easy to plant and grow. I’ve tried different varieties and the easiest and best I’ve found are bush beans. Like it sounds, it grows bush style. Pole beans are a good variety if you want to try growing vertically. Most of the beans will need to be picked around the same time, probably all within a week. Once most of the beans are picked, I pull the plants up and replant them for a second round. Now I’ll have a second harvest later in the summer.

Squash (Seeds)

I stopped growing yellow squash because no one in my house liked them except for me, but they are a simple vegetable to grow. You can plant these from seeds outside too.

line of green, yellow, red and orange peppers

Zucchini (Seeds)

This plant looks very similar to yellow squash.  You can use zucchini in so many different recipes, like muffins and zoodles!  Grilled zucchini and peppers are to die for in the summer!

Carrots (Seeds)

Carrots are super easy to grow.  You can do whole carrots or half danvers.  If your garden is small and just a little off the ground then the half danvers are perfect!

Basil (Plant)

I buy this at the nursery as a plant.  I love this herb.  I usually plant 2-3 plants.  My family loves fresh pesto and tomato and basil salad.  I love adding it to recipes.  You just pull or cut off what you need.  If you aren’t planning on making pesto, one plant is enough.

Things to buy to help with your garden.

Soaker hoses– One of the most time consuming things about a garden is watering. Using a soaker hose saves so much time.

Water timer for water hose– What’s even better than a soaker hose is a soaker hose with a timer on it. Now you don’t have to do anything!

Garden labels– These aren’t necessary, but cute to have.

Garden tools– Here’s a basic set of hand tools you may find helpful.

Gardening gloves– Gloves are a must! This link has a few pairs which I recommend. If your gloves become wet and muddy, you’ll have a dry backup pair.

Tips for Vegetable Gardening

  1. Out of all the gardening tips I could give you, this is the most important one to have a successful garden. Wait to plant until after your last freeze. The weather in North Carolina is so nice in April and I’m always tempted to start my garden, but EVERY year there is a freeze in May. You have to be patient.
  2. Do not overwater. Vegetables are pretty hardy and overwatering is easy to do. You don’t need to water every day.