I am coming to understand what kind of gardener I am. There are the types that lovingly sow seeds in February then care for them until August and in a single week reap a large harvest of tomatoes, basil, onions, egg plant, cucumbers, in one big exciting bonanza. These gardeners will invite friends over for huge salsa, sauce, and pickle making parties and process all this bounty and preserve it for the coming year.
I am not this type of gardener. I am too impatient. I am a nibbler. I look on a job like the above with trepidation. The garden is my pantry. The longer my family can graze and nibble, the better. In January, I shook snow off some beets and roasted them. In February, my daughter, Gabi, and I picked a bowl of broccoli florets to accompany our dinner. It’s not rows of beautiful jars in a pantry—but it’s how I roll.
Yes, I will dehydrate apples and herbs, freeze berries, and put potatoes, onions and garlic in shoe boxes. But that’s about it. The rest of the time it waits in the garden-pantry.
With this in mind I’m letting go of tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, beans. (For now…) They require a lot of space, support, and tend to ripen all at once. Instead, I’m favoring perennial plants because they are either available all year or come back stronger every spring all on their own, and scoff at slugs and many other pests. Some like asparagus, artichokes, and sorrel, are ready to harvest while my annuals are still under grow lights.
If you want to add some laziness to your garden regime try growing some of my favorite perennial and annual crops.
Perennial Lazy Gardener Favorites
#1 Favorite: Herbs. These give all year and seem to like my sporadic snipping. I never run out, and they save us money at the grocery store.
- parsley (actually a biennial)
- lemon balm
#2 Favorite: Berries. Triple-Crown Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and elderberries. Few foods have the dense nutrient profile or the allure of home grown berries. Not to mention the cost savings! All these guys require is pruning and picking and flourish in our climate. (Although, blueberries do need summer irrigation.) Whatever we don’t eat fresh, I tray-freeze then bag-up. Easy.
#3 Favorite: Asparagus. We love this superfood. Asparagus will give every spring for 30+ years in greater returns each year. I also love how the fronds add interest to the landscape.
#4 Favorite: Artichoke. These plants looks gorgeous in the landscape and put out a crop of lovely flowers early in the year. I leave one to flower for the bumblebees to enjoy. I also continually trim the lower leaves and use them as a nutrient rich mulch. (Like comfrey, artichokes are dynamic accumulators making their leaves mineral rich. Chop and drop at will.)
#5 Favorite: Greens. These can be trimmed at will and regrow readily.
- Sorrel is a wonderful lemony tasting green. Pull seed heads to keep it producing.
- Chard is a bi-annual, but if you trim seed heads it will keep producing leaves.
#6 Favorite: Alliums. Snip their greens all year. Their fragrant leaves also make a great pest-repellent mulch for strawberries and other crops.
- garlic chives
Annual Lazy Gardener Favorites
Even though I do need to reseed these every year, they make up for it by being pest resistant, easy to grow, abundant with a long bearing season, and/or easy preservation.
#1 Favorite: Herbs for Tea: chamomile, lemongrass. Harvest as needed and lay on screens or tie and hang to dry. Then crush and mix for a wonderful tea. They can be used fresh to infuse water, or add flavor to salads, fish, and countless other dishes.
#2 Favorite: Brassicas. Broccoli, kale, cauliflower. Once they start giving, they will keep on giving until they’ve been allowed to flower and set seed. (So I just keep trimming, and they keep producing.) The quality difference between store bought broccoli and homegrown is dramatic. In our homegrown florets the stems are green all the way through whereas the store stuff is pale, albeit larger in winter. We can’t get enough of this super food. They are awesome in the fall garden too. Start seeds in pots around August and transplant to your beds as space opens up.
#3 Favorite: Alliums. These are easy to grow and once cured can last for months.
- garlic (Plant in the fall for a July harvest.)
#4 Favorite: Leaf Lettuces and Spinach: The cut and come again method will provide us with greens for about two months in the spring and then another short burst in the fall.
#5 Favorite: Root crops. Beets and carrots. These have my heart for their flavor and nutrient profile, but mostly because they will store themselves in the garden all winter. I can pick and cook as needed.
#6 Favorite: Fall garden. Start these seeds indoors or in pots around August and transplant out when garden space opens up. These veggies can remain in the garden all winter to be snipped or pulled as needed. I lose some to pest and birds, so I usually plant a little more than I need so I have some to share with wildlife.
Those are my lazy gardener favorites. What are some of yours? I’m always on the look-out!