As new moms (or other people with crazy schedules and little time) trying to add one more thing to keep track of can be quite the hassle. Adding gardening to that schedule can seem daunting but with these six garden tips you will be eating fresh food from your own garden as if magic fairies were tending to your garden for you.
My Past Experience With Gardening
I live on a little over half an acre and have for three blessed summers. My plans and dreams for the land were abundant and vivid: my kitchen over flowing with ripe gourds and such, the counter hot with freshly canned peaches, my front yard with a little stand selling the extra for a little side money.
Living large, I was going to even get some type of animal like chickens or a miniature cow (look it up. It will change your world).
The first year I spent all my time fixing up the house and the yard. I bought the house in May and it leached blood sweat and tears out of us just to get it looking like a regular place. It was well used but not well tended for. I was painting several rooms, building a walk-in closet, and remodeling the bathroom in addition to cleaning up the outside.
Oh ya…and I was getting married that summer with the reception in my back yard and finishing my comprehensive exams for my Phd. So…you know. Didn’t really get that massive garden but I did have a nice area for our reception.
The next summer came and I fought with weeds taller than me with roots like massive carrots. I was pregnant and my feet looked like this:
So I just had squash, beets, peaches, plums, strawberries, and then 25ish tomato plants. I did live like a queen for a few months off all things tomato based.
Gardening With Little Time
The next summer approached and I had big plans again. I had quit work so I had more
free time but then I was also a new mom. Having had my baby in November and
struggling so much I finally decided that I couldn’t plant where the garden bed was because it was too far from the house. I was going to build garden beds closer to the house and plant there….then I finally realized that I was just going to have to plant in the ground next to the house, no fence.
I’ve found that when gardening as a new mom means that you have to work smarter not harder if you want to have success. The following are six tips that I’ve learned on how to garden as a new mom. These tips of course would also be good for anyone with limited time.
The Six Sweet Garden Tips
Start now, don’t wait
If you wait to start until you have it all worked out, you will be enjoying your garden in 10+ years from now. Just start now and start small. Put something in the ground whenever you can and build from there. Learn as you go about bugs, diseases, how to harvest, that you actually don’t like bush beans, how to collect your own seeds, etc. There will be plenty of things to learn but you can learn as you go. As a side note. This is what a squash bug looks like:
If you see it in any form, eradicate it as soon as you possibly can. Don’t be a chump like me my first year: think it was cute and watch it reproduce faster than the cliche bunny rabbit in a matter of seconds.
Find a local Mentor
I have a neighbor two doors down that has been doing this for years. He has my dream garden going on. I have the internet but the internet has a lot of random information. It can be hard to pinpoint local information such as when to plant, what works well in my area, what bugs and diseases are common, what I should try next year, etc. He has helped me identify bugs that I struggled to find through internet searches. I thought that perhaps a cat had cut off all the leaves of my squash plants (lol) but he informed me that he had the same thing, told me what was causing it and what to do about it.
He has also been kind to me and gave me a tomato plant that he didn’t have room for that was a new variety that I hadn’t tried before. To top that all off he is generous and has shared his produce with me which is awesome for two reasons. 1. I get free produce, sweet. and 2. I can try new varieties out before I decide to plant them myself. For instance this year I tried his Bidwell Casaba Melon from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds company and I’m convinced on planting it for myself next year.
Find the right tools.
I’m not talking about the standard shovel and hoe. I’m talking about the, I’m a new mom and my sleep pattern is crazy and I can’t even find a regular time to shower, tools. Like these babies!
The lights and sprinkler attached to a motion detector were to eliminate pests getting in my garden (birds and skunks mostly). They both weren’t that great and I wouldn’t buy them again. At least not those brands/types. The solar lights were spotty, didn’t work that well and then died. The sprinkler was good but it was so sensitive or not sensitive enough and when my brothers dog came to visit…he would just try to attack it instead of avoiding it and ripped up my garden in the process.*
The biggest thing of greatest worth was the Apex 1030-100 Soil Soaking Hose, 100-Feet and the 2 Pack Orbit Single Outlet Programmable Hose Faucet Timer, Standard Packaging.
Whoa! This allowed me to keep a garden going and essentially forget about it, even go on vacation for weeks on end and not have it suffer.
I also planted a new bush in the back and needed it to be consistently watered. On the spliter I attached a regular hose and left it at the base of the bush. Because it needed less water than my garden, I simply didn’t open the splitter all the way for the bush. Walaa! Thriving garden and bush.
Mulch around your plants.
Find whatever you can to put down around your plants (newspaper, straw, grass clippings) to prevent weeds from coming up and from your water evaporating. My dad had got these bags of wood shavings for free off of ksl classifieds (our local newspaper’s classifieds) and I used that to mulch around the plants.
(Can you see the pallets I have next to the garden that I was going to use to build raised beds and then decided that it wasn’t going to happen?)
Wood shavings are high in carbon that suck up nitrogen when decomposing. You might also know that nitrogen is what your plants need to grow. I wasn’t too worried about this because I didn’t mix the shavings into my soil, I just placed it on top and I heaped plenty of old goat manure (free from my local goat farm) into the soil before I planted. I only had to weed a few times when the plants were small and then not at all once my plants were full grown. It’s kind of hard to weed with a wee one so this was crucial for me and it helped my melons stay off the moist ground.
Finally putting down mulch was great for me because I wasn’t able to plant all of my seeds at once. I planted the seeds at different time intervals because I didn’t have huge blocks of time to just get it all done at once like I used to be able to do. I didn’t want to plant seeds on top of each other but my memory wasn’t that great. So each time I put seeds down in an area, I followed it by a little mulch. That helped me to mark where I put the seeds. Then when the plants were bigger (or I had transplanted in the plants that I grew inside) I filled it in with more mulch.
Pick things to plant that you will have the highest success right away.
For me this means: tomatoes, peas, zucchini, pumpkins, bush beans, cucumbers, sunflowers, etc. It can be really discouraging when you try to plant and you plant and then have problems or need to google things all the time. It is pretty obvious when a tomato is ready to pick and for the most part tomato plants aren’t that finicky. It might be different plants in your area that are rather fool proof so it is good to have a neighbor to act as a mentor that you can ask.
Make gardening a part of your baby’s routine.
We would go out and spend the morning staring up at the huge sunflowers or watch as the garden grew larger and larger. I would add food from the garden to my baby’s diet as he grew. It made it easier to have a garden when it was serving a duel purpose: entertaining my baby and feeding him fresh food.
I have the best memories of going out to the garden and eating fresh peas and tomatoes. I also have lots of memories weeding….and weeding and weeding. I think for my children I want to spend more time teaching them more how to plant and harvest then just weeding. Also, if you use mulch, you won’t need to weed so much.
My garden this year was great. It wasn’t the massive half of an acre that I hope to have one day but it is better than nothing. I love knowing what has gone into my food and that I don’t have to go far to get fresh food. I know that each year I’m going to get more and more experience so that one day I will be able to (at least theoretically) grow enough for us to be fed not only in the summer but in winter too for a fraction of the cost to buy it at the store.
By implementing these quick and easy garden tips you too can have the great results without the headache. Comment below to add what you have found most helpful to get a thriving garden while being a new mom.
*I ended up combating the pest problem simply by over planting. My plants kept getting destroyed by things so I just kept planting more and more and eventually lots of things came up…I over planted a little too much though and so next year I’ll watch that or just put up a fence if I have time.