Feed the Soil
One of the most overlooked aspects of gardening is the addition of organic matter to the soil. This is so basic and fundamental, it is a wonder that more gardeners don’t do it, as it saves both time and money and simplifies your gardening all year round. You can cut down on expensive fertilizers by making sure your plants have plenty of food in the soil, simply by adding organic matter to your flowerbeds once a year. Sources of organic matter can be your own garden compost, well-rotted stable manure from the local riding school, bagged manure or compost. Leaf litter is great as a soil improver or mulch, although some parks object to people digging for it. Leaf litter is one of the best things you can add to your soil. It’s free, clean and packed with nutrients. Well-rotted leaves, taken from under the surface, are humus rich and packed with bugs, which will help take the goodness deep into the soil.
One of the best ways of simplifying your gardening is to feed your soil by using mulch. Mulching not only adds organic nutrients to the soil, but it also slows the growth of weeds too. Cutting down on weeding is a gardener’s dream and by mulching with organic matter, you can reduce weeding and encourage insect activity at the same time. Another advantage of mulching is that moisture is held within the soil and prevented from evaporating. It is best to mulch in the autumn to retain the rainwater that has fallen during the season. A thick layer of mulch (once again, compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mould) will be gradually drawn into the soil by earthworms over winter and spring, leaving your soil enriched for the growing season.
Low Maintenance Plants
Low maintenance plants are another way of making gardening easier. Speak to your local nursery or research online for drought resistant plants. Mediterranean plants do well, particularly anything with silver leaves. Consider lavender, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, Hebes, Santolina, euphorbia, perennial geraniums or palms; the list really is extremely long and varied. Look at the RHS Plant guides online for ideas.
Raised Beds and Containers
If you find it hard to weed a vegetable bed, consider raised beds. You can now get planters on legs, which are ideal for salad crops. Other options for those who don’t want to hoe between the rows are vegetable and plant containers. We all know the joy of containers for our flowers, which brighten up any area and don’t need weeding. But consider them for vegetables too. Potato growing bags are fun, especially for children and strawberries are simple to grow in a container. Don’t stop there. Sow radishes, lettuce in shallow soil and risk a leek or two between your potatoes!
If you have trouble bending to weed, do look at the ergonomically designed gardening tools that are available on the market now. Designed specifically for people with mobility problems, or those simply with more aches and pains than they used to have, these tools can help in simplifying your gardening. Long handled tools, such as hoes, trowels and forks take the backache out of weeding. Some designs have interchangeable heads, which cuts down on cost and makes storage easier. Kneeling stools are a useful addition to your tool collection and make getting up and down much easier. Anything you can do to simplify gardening for yourself is a bonus and can prolong your gardening pleasure for years.
This post was written by Francesca, a blogger from the UK with an interest in home improvement and gardening. She writes for Green Thumb, who specialize in lawn care.