The lazy gardener tackles vegetables and herbs

Gardening the lazy way.

You probably already know that I am a lazy cook, so it shouldn't surprise you in the least that I am a lazy gardener as well. The truth is I hate bugs, I hate dirt under my fingernails, and I hate to weed.  Gardening for exercise or meditation? It doesn't work for me.

But I love fresh food plucked from the garden and served at the table moments later.  Specifically, I love to add fresh herbs to salads and other dishes, enabling me to create quick and simple dishes that burst with flavor.  I also love to teach my children about food, preparation, and balanced meals within the context of the garden.  Last year, they developed a love for cherry tomatoes due to our cherry tomato plant.  This year I hope they develop a love for yellow peppers.

So I've been experimenting over the last few years to see just how bountiful the fruits of my inadequate and measly labor can be.  Here is my cheat sheet.  (If you are an avid gardener, you may want to stop reading now, as I am sure you will find my tips and methods ghastly abominations of horticulture).

  1. Opt for containers.  Planting in containers simplifies gardening significantly.  There is no soil preparation.  There is no weeding.  Simply place your plant in the container and fill the extra space with dirt.  Another bonus?  Your plant is mobile: if growing conditions aren't ideal, you can move your container rather than contemplating cutting down the tree shading your plants in the yard.  (Hint: make sure there are holes in the bottom of the container for drainage).
  2. Use starter plants.  I know that pre-school children regularly start plants from seeds, but it seems too risky to this lazy gardener.  Instead, opt for starter plants that are less likely to die.  I like to buy them at Home Depot and Lowe's.
  3. Water regularly.  Because you are using containers, it is important to water these plants all the time.  (You have to do some work!)  This is an activity the kids love to take part in, and it enables you to watch the plants grow and discuss how they are doing.
  4. Employ your husband.  Organize the activity.  Tell your husband it is a glorious way for him to spend time with the kids.  He'll lend you a hand.  
  5. Experiment.  You will find that given your technique, or lack thereof, some plants thrive under your care while others shrivel.  I've found that I do quite well with basil and rosemary, which must mean they are quite hearty.  Thyme is not my specialty.  The kids loved having a strawberry plant, but once the birds found them we never tasted a berry again.  This year I am adding heirloom tomatoes, peppers, sage, and mint to my current hearty mix.
Fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs without expending much effort?  Sounds good to me.  Start planning now.  You have plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of your, sort of, labor.

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