The Barefoot Gardener: But I Don’t Have Time For A Garden…

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PC: J.M. Buck

A no excuses guide to gardening for even the busiest of people.

“Oh, I’d love to have a vegetable garden, but I’m too busy. Da kids, I work six days a week and go church Sundays, ‘den don’ wanna do notting aftah dat…”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard that, I would be seriously wealthy. You know what? I can truly empathize with you. I mean that.

I’m not going to bore you with the thousand random details and obligations of my life, which could easily eat up every available waking second if I were to allow such mundane things the unwarranted privilege. However, I have found that even in my busiest weeks (or months) if I commandeer a mere 10 to 20 minutes a week — yes, a week — for a vegetable garden, then I can be feasting from a thriving bounty of fresh home-grown produce.


That said, I’ve compiled a list of top 10 tips to create a successful garden for even the busiest person living in any locale or abode:

1. Containers are it. Whether you live in a condo with a dinky lanai or a multi-million dollar mansion, get some pots, planter boxes and planter box rail hangers to sow your garden in. No weeding, minimal maintenance. Takes about two to three minutes to water once each morning, or you can add a drip system on a battery operated timer and you don’t need to hand water at all.

2. For condo or apartment dwellers that don’t have a sunny spot: full spectrum fluorescent or LED bulbs are cheap. Buy some and either put them in painters’ lamps that you can clip in strategic places or stick them into some cool lighting fixtures. This way you can grow produce indoors. To make things even easier, put the lights on plug-in timers.

3. If you do have a lanai with a sunny spot, cram it full of potted seedlings (leaving a little room to walk, of course). For climbing veggies, attach a couple of 2x4s to the lanai wall and mount some trellising or a piece of fencing onto it. If your neighbors are the nosy type, they will be surprised when they come face-to-face with a vine burgeoning with cucumbers instead of a view of your living room.


4. If you already have a small garden plot going in your yard and suddenly get hit with that big project: a. Train the kids. b. If you don’t have kids, put down weed mat and buy some watering hose (you know, the flat kine with the little pukas in it) and put a watering timer onto your hose bib. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours on a free weekend to do this. Be sure to weight down the edges of the weed mat with 2x4s, rocks or the like (not soil, weeds grow in that) to prevent wind from lifting it.

5. Plant vegetables that give you multiple harvests, such as string beans, eggplant, peas, tomatoes and squash. There are many perennial vegetables: chives, artichokes, rhubarb, sweet potato, potato, chard, asparagus, ginger, sunchokes and walking onions, to name a few.

6. Get organic time-release fertilizer for your plants. Fox Farms offers numerous varieties of fertilizers and amended soils that spare you from keeping track of more traditional methods of fertilization and compost dressing. I recommend their Marine Cuisine. The Ace Hardware stores and most garden supply shops around the island carry Fox Farms products.

7. Having trouble justifying any time at all for gardening? Consider it a mental health break! Instead of voluntarily paying $150 an hour for a good therapist, gardening costs you next to nothing and you can meditate, contemplate or simply relax for as little or as long as you want while making a beautiful, healthy contribution to yourself and your family.


8. Manage your time. Life can throw us curve balls, and some of them seem to hit us square in the face when we least expect it. Though the excrement may be hitting the Amana, it’s totally okay to set aside time for yourself and your garden. Be willing to say, “No, this time is for me.” Commit to it.

9. Assess your priorities. This goes in hand with the previous suggestion. If you are so busy you can’t afford yourself 10 to 20 minutes a week to do something you would like to do, it might be time to take a good look at your life and reassess your priorities.

10. If you can afford it, hire a professional gardener. Then the all of the above need not apply.

Happy gardening!

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