How To Avoid Garden Overwhelm

I’ve talked with several friends this spring about their gardens and many of them are feeling overwhelmed. Life is really busy…

I’ve talked with several friends this spring about their gardens and many of them are feeling overwhelmed. Life is really busy for most of us these days. Ticks and other biting insects keep us indoors. The somewhat dismal spring weather we’ve had has weeds flourishing and seeds rotting in the ground. With all of these factors working against us, how can we avoid garden overwhelm?

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Life throws us countless curve balls. By missing a week or two in your garden, things can really go downhill fast. When you finally get out to the garden, it’s hard to avoid garden overwhelm. Unless your vegetable or flower beds are completely carefree, they do need weekly attention.

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A weedy spot in our garden.

Don’t Take On Too Much

When spring finally hits we can feel unstoppable. When drawing up a garden plan it’s easy to plan way too much. When I look through seed catalogs, I circle everything that catches my eye. I reason that I have plenty of space for this or that. I know what you’re thinking. You don’t just want peas, you want green and purple podded ones. You want 4 kinds of garlic and 28 tomato plants of different varieties. The struggle is real! It’s just not possible for every gardener to grow everything. Another consideration is harvest time. If you don’t have enough time to deal with crates of tomatoes and 100 radishes all at once, plant fewer plants. You could even try planting several different types with different maturity rates.

So many things to do…

A trip to the nursery is no better. I may start out with a list but then my eyes hit those colorful seed packets and fresh, young seedlings stretching out on tables before me as far as the eye can see. You go in for a few basic things and end up with a carload. Just planting may cause overwhelm.

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Seed packets.

So, what can be done to eliminate garden overwhelm? Make a list and stick to it. Leave a little bit of room to possibly try something new. This year, I purchased a few geraniums for the porch and some annuals for the shed window boxes. Other years, I’ve tried to cram flowers in so many pots here and there. Then, I find I have little time to water them. It can be hard when you are staring at endless lines of hanging baskets that are just gushing with flowers. Ask yourself, will I have time to water and deadhead them? Why not choose a few high impact plants rather than many smaller ones? If you’ve been reading Everlongardener for any amount of time, you are familiar with the many ideas I’ve shared for simplifying your garden.

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Zucchini are finally up!

Check Your Garden Daily 

I know that this may sound like a lot, but checking on your garden daily can head off future problems. Just taking your morning tea or coffee out to the garden can be a refreshing experience. Try an after work detox by strolling through the garden. Maybe some post-dinner weeding during the cooler part of the day. This way you can see what needs water, check if any pests are eating leaves or you might notice that a certain weed is taking over your carrots. A few minutes a day may not even feel like work. Make sure that when you pull those weeds you get the root. This means it will take longer for them to come back!

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There’s always something to weed!

When harvest time comes, if you neglect checking on the garden, you may even miss the harvest completely. Imagine if you didn’t look over your cucumber or zucchini plants for a week! The harvest would completely get away from you.

Mustard greens going by.

It’s better to do a few things well than to do many things haphazardly. Focus on a few things if you are strapped for time. I made a few simple suggestions in 5 Easy Vegetables For The Beginner Gardener. If you can’t pull off having a vegetable garden every single year, consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Members pay a local farm for a weekly share of fresh produce. This gives the farm spring capital and provides the customer with plenty of weekly vegetables. I have a friend who wondered why she was growing lettuce when the farm down the road sells a head for $1.50. She has a point. Another option is to make a weekly trip to your local farmers market. Anyway that you choose, eating local, consciously grown food is one of the joys of summer!

We joined two of the garden beds last week.

Amid all that spring entails and the speed with which summer passes by, try to get out while the weather is warm. Garden if you can and if it makes you happy. Just don’t get overwhelmed. Hope you liked seeing some of my weeds this week! We’ve been picking away at one project at a time around here. Many other things are going on. We are now in for some gorgeous Summer days in mid-coast Maine. Here are a few shots from the garden. Thanks for checking out Everlongardener this week and don’t forget to subscribe in the sidebar!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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Second round of basil, hope it makes it!
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A few strawberries!
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Peonies are opening!

From my garden to yours, over and out!

A Friends Garden

Inspiration is all around us.  Sometimes, it’s not where you would expect it to be.  In the wake of the urban garden revolution, I have a friend who was urban gardening before urban gardening was cool. On a small shaft of land in the heart of town, there is a sweet little garden that we like to visit!  A friend’s garden.

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Even if you only can measure your land in feet instead of acres, a bit of food self-sufficiency can be attainable.  By adding small fruits along with vegetables and herbs, an immense amount of food can be produced.  Our friends garden has achieved this, making big things happen in a not so big space!

Clematis pushing through the weathered fencing.
Clematis pushing through the weathered fencing.

As you walk through the garden gate, the arbor is draped by a clematis coated in tiny purple blooms.  Rosy pink hydrangeas guard each side of the gate.

Pink hydrangeas grace the entrance of the garden.
Pink hydrangeas grace the entrance of the garden.

Portulaca are flowering on each side of the walkway.  Blooming in all shades of fuschia, orange and red.  Spilling out of the beds in all of their succulent beauty.

Portulaca from the walkway.
Portulaca from the walkway.

Potatoes don’t have to just be grown in the ground. Two different methods of growing are at work here.  A home built potato tower and a planter made from fabric and wire fencing.  Think of going vertical instead of directly in the ground.  These methods can save a ton of space and work.

Tomatoes and zucchini are scattered through the garden area.  A happy mix of veggies and herbs.  Bean trellis’ are attached to the out buildings for strong supports.

A lot packed into a small space.
A lot packed into a small space.

The garden water feature adds sound to the air. Splashing and bubbles make the garden come alive!  The sheds are all fitted with gutters that either flow into the rain barrels or the ‘pond’.  Need some water?  Just go to the hand pump!

The water feature.
The water feature.

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On the east side of the property, along the fence, red and golden raspberries arch out into the walkway.  I had never tried the golden ones before and they are delicious!  More of a honey flavor than the red raspberries.  They are actually overtaking the red.  At the end of the bed, huge blackberries are still pluming in the sun.  Nearby, high bush blueberry bushes are turning their fall red color.

Just falling off the vines!
Just falling off the vines!

This visit has inspired us to clear an area for some of these on our own property.  I’ll have to find out what variety they are.

The plump golden raspberries!
The plump golden raspberries!

Many of the flowering herbs attract bees and pollinators of all kinds. Mint, allium, dill, sage, lavender and thyme.  All pouring out of the raised herb beds just ready for the picking.

Bees are everywhere!
Bees are everywhere!

Several mason bee houses are in the center of the raspberry patch.  As we watched, wild bees came in and out of the small holes in the houses.  This is a simple way to get more pollinators in your garden.

Attract native bees to your garden for extra pollination.
Attract native bees to your garden for extra pollination.
The bees have been busy!
The bees have been busy!
A mason bee house nestled in the raspberry patch.
A mason bee house nestled in the raspberry patch.

Along the back fence, huge bunches of yellow day lilies stand in front of his buoy collection.  These lobster trap buoys were scavenged over the years from the nearby sea shore.  A trademark of the Maine coast.

A nice place to sit!
A nice place to sit!

You just can’t help but feel like taking a seat in this small but abundant garden.  So much peace can be found by a short rest in this garden space.

Grapes hanging from the fence.
Grapes hanging from the fence.

In addition to the berries, the grape arbor is overflowing with grape clusters.

Chinese lanterns!
Chinese lanterns!

In the back corner, Chinese lanterns have put on their paper flowers.  This seems to be a sure sign of fall in the air.   Several beds are dedicated to strawberries.  In berry season, our friends can just go out in the morning to get berries for breakfast.  Just a quick stroll out the front door.

We love visiting this garden!
We love visiting this garden!

We adore our friends garden!  A little patch of farmland where you wouldn’t expect it.  We come to enjoy a few berries and get a little inspiration for our own garden.

Thanks for going on this garden tour with me.  If you like posts from my Reflections & Ramblings category, you might enjoy Beauty In Forgotten Places.  This week I was able to harvest a full bowl of greens from the fall garden.  It’s worth it to do this late planting after all.  As we gear up for fall, I will be discussing season extension and planting garlic.  See you next week!

Hilary|Everlongardener