Saving time in the garden is important, because modern homesteaders need all the time they can get for preserving, crafting and some time enjoying their haven.
One of the things that all of us wants is to have is a beautiful crop from whatever it is we're planting. We want to get the most produce that we possibly can out of the things that we've put in, and we want them to be healthy plants.
Healthy plants are going to produce us more crops and require a lot less work and time. I don't think there's any of us who have a whole lot of time laying around or who want to do more work than is necessary. Now, as homesteaders, we're not afraid of work, but we don't want to add any extra when we don't have to.
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Listen below to, Time Saving Gardening Tips, Episode #146 of the Pioneering Today Podcast, where we teach families how to grow, preserve and cook their own food using old-fashioned skill sets and wisdom to create a natural self-sufficient home, with, or without, the homestead.
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Soaker hoses- I've had this same hose for over 4 years now and it's still going strong.
Episode #142 Edible & Medicinal Weeds in Your Backyard– How to Harvest, Cook & Preserve Them
How to save time with watering
Watering is obviously really important to our plants so we don't want to forget about that. But first let me say:
- Don't water by hand, because that's going to take the very most amount of time.
- Don't be wasteful with water, even if you have an abundance of water.
Common Watering Mistakes with Tomatoes
When you are watering with your plants, there is a balance.
Mistake # 1 Too much water. This can actually be harmful to your plants, especially to tomatoes and some other things that don't like to be overly wet.
Mistake # 2 Not enough water. When it comes to tomatoes, making sure that the watering is adequate is really important in order for the tomato to grow and to draw up the nutrients into the plant. This allows us to avoid blossom-end rot and blight.
Blight is a fungus and can wipe out an entire crop. It can also live in the soil, so you really want to prevent that. This means that excess overhead watering, AKA rain or overhead sprinklers, can have a negative effect and can lead to blight.
Solution: Soaker hoses(I've had this exact hose for over 4 years). These are basically a porous hose that leaks out just a small amount of water, kind of like a drip irrigation, it weeps the water out of your hose and into the ground. Some benefits of soaker hoses are:
- You don't have runoff because it's not coming out in a hard spray.
- Not using as much water
- The water is concentrated when you place it at the base of a plant so it goes straight to the roots.
- There is no overhead spray, which can really help with reducing blight and other fungal diseases.
When you use a soaker hose, you're just watering at the ground, so you're not getting water and moisture all over the foliage, which is really what we want.
It's much better if you can do a deep watering a couple of times a week versus trying to water every single day.
When to put in your trellises or your supports?
Try going vertical, it has many advantages and we use this on our homestead even though we have a lot of space. You can fit more stuff into a small amount of space. Some plants require trellising in order to be prolific and in order to actually grow. An example is pole beans. If you do not give it a trellis system, it won't grow and you're not going to get nearly the amount of harvest from it.
The best time to put them in is at the time of planting. There's a couple of reasons for this.
- Time saver. Anything you can do in batching will save you time. So think about it…you're already out there, you've got all of your planting stuff, you're putting in your plants or seeds. It only takes an extra minute or two, to put in the support system at the time of planting. Also, if you wait until it's starting to send out its vines or its tendrils and it's getting larger, then you're taking another block of time and going back out and doing it.
- You won't damage the roots. When you wait until the plant is big enough, their roots are going out deeper and you have a bigger root system. You run the chance of damaging and of actually hurting the roots by putting in your support systems in your trellises when you're pounding them into the ground.
You're going to save yourself time and possibly some health of your plant by putting them in at the time of planting.
How to save time with weeding
Weeding can suck up a whole lot of time, trying to keep that garden neat and tidy. There are a few options when you are trying to save your time with weeding.
- Mulch– With mulch, you are trying to smother the weeds. You place it in between your rows or in between your planters. You can put down heavy mulching or you can put down sheeting. The idea is to try and smother those weeds, and that's going to help with your weeding.
- Tilling– this one can be kind of controversial, but I'm just putting all the options out there, we're all going to pick what works best for us. When you're planting in your annual vegetable garden, you want to leave enough space between the rows that you can fit a rototiller between them. Then you'll just do a very light surface till in between the rows to get the weeds as they come up.
- Weeding rotation schedule-This works great with the kiddos. So every day, we can pick how much time we're going to weed. Some days it may be 20 minutes to a half an hour. Other days it might be 5 or 10 minutes. But doing a little bit every single day and rotating your way through the garden, you're going to keep on top of it without needing to have 2-3 hour blocks. Again, this will depend on the size your garden and how bad the weeds have gotten. TIP: It is easier to weed when they are small. So take a hoe when they're just starting to come up and just scrape the surface. This allows you to disrupt their root system when they're little.
- Use the weeds– some of the weeds, what we consider weeds are actually edible, and they have medicinal properties. If you're ever going to eat anything or use it medicinally, you need to be 100% sure you know that plant is edible or that it is medicinal and there is no doubt that it could be a look-alike. There are plants out there that are poisonous if we eat them.
So you've got quite a few options there for staying on top of the weeds. You may find one works or a combination of them work for you.
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