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How To Grow Food With Less Work

When we first planted our vegetable garden in rows, our first spring in our acreage home, it never occurred to us to plant more than one kind of vegetable in any row. I’d never seen it done any differently, nor even heard it spoken about. But after a few years of gardening, and a whole lot of attention given to the soil, the sun, the moisture, and the bugs, I’ve become very interested in the practices of companion planting, intercropping, and succession planting. Any technique that improves the taste and yield of our vegetables, while reducing the amount of work I have to do to produce those vegetables, is worthy of my attention and my evaluation.  

"Cutting Back" Perennials

Long-time gardeners sometimes forget that new gardeners might not yet know the nuances of some phrases. There are still some of my grandmother’s gardening phrases floating around in my head that I have yet to decipher, however the last few years in my own garden have provided me with several “aha moments”. Imagine my disappointment learning what “bolt” (describing a plant that has gone to seed prematurely) actually meant.

Dividing Your Daylilies

The best time to divide daylilies is shortly after they have finished flowering in late summer to early fall.  Check the center of your daylily plant to see if there is any dead growth. If there is, your plant is telling you it’s time to divide it. You can expect to divide daylilies every 3 or 5 years in order to keep them healthy and blooming strong.

Blossom End Rot

This is a common challenge for many gardeners and one I’ve heard many a curse about over the years. Those curses tend to be heard around this time of year, with the first tomatoes of the season when they are approximately half of their full size.

Common Gardening Challenges and Solutions
Common Gardening Challenges and Solutions

Even the most careful and experienced gardener will occasionally find plants that are weakening or a crop teeming with a troublesome pest. No garden is immune from pests and diseases, and learning to recognize the symptoms and determining appropriate controls is your best defense.

If you are struggling with any of these challenges, don’t let it discourage you from trying again. You are not alone in this, we are all gardeners and we are all learning all the time. These are some of the most common challenges that all of us face:

What Plants Need
What Plants Need

Last year at the end of summer, we picked our first ear of corn that we grew ourselves! Unfortunately, that ear of corn was at most 4 inches long. Failure is part of the deal when gardening AND garden failures happen even to the most experienced of gardeners as well as beginners alike. You will have resounding successes with some plants, and experience colossal failures with others. Try to remember that gardening is about learning and experimenting as part of the experience. Every failure teaches you how to be successful next time.

Something that really clicked for me, was remembering how my grandmother called her plants her “babies”. At the time, I thought it quite strange and it made me feel slightly jealous. Now, many years later, it’s as if a light bulb went on in my head. I have a new understanding of “hardening off” and a new perspective about a plant’s needs.