Quick and Easy Vegetable Garden

Jane Griffiths adding compost to her garden Short cuts to a nutritious edible garden

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view.” H. Fred Dale

Many people think a vegetable garden involves hours of daily labour. It doesn’t have to. By working with nature we can reduce unnecessary work. Here are some shortcuts to growing and maintaining a quick and easy vegetable garden.

Quick starter vegetable garden

This is a simple way to get started and be growing your own food within a day or two.

  1. Cover the lawn with a thick layer of cardboard, wetting each layer thoroughly before placing the next on top, until the cardboard is about 5 cm thick.
  2. Mark out the pathways and beds, making each bed about the size of a door. Use logs, bricks or stones to edge the beds.
  3. Lay gravel, straw or bricks over the pathways.
  4. Cover the cardboard inside each bed area with a 15 cm layer of compost mixed with topsoil and well rotted manure (a third each).
  5. Leave it for a day to settle then start planting your seedlings and seeds!

Low maintenance shortcuts

  • MulchingDon’t dig up your garden when you want to plant a new bed, rather use No Dig Gardening. Digging is bad for your garden – it upsets the soil balance, leads to moisture and nutrient loss, unearths weed seeds and kills beneficial insects. Enrich the soil by adding compost, manure and slow release organic fertilisers to the top layer of the soil. Nature will do her thing and incorporate them into the lower layers. One simple rule: never walk on the soil or it will become compacted. This is why you have small beds surrounded by pathways. ? Regularly mulch the surface of beds with leaves, straw or compost. This provides food and homes for beneficial insects, smothers weeds, retains moisture, prevents water runoff and disease transfer and keeps the soil an even temperature.
  • Pack beds with as many plants as each can hold. This retains moisture, creates a microclimate beneath the resulting canopy and prevents weeds.
  • Plant a variety of vegetables and herbs in each bed. Diversity encourages beneficial insects and helps prevent disease.
  • Do successive sowings for continual harvests.
  • Leave some plants to go to seed for a self-sufficient vegetable garden.
  • Don’t harvest whole plants; just pick leaves from a few.
  • Keep records of what you have sown where.

Quick and easy vegetables and herbs

Much easier than onions or garlic but adds a similar flavour to dishes.

Chives and calendula

Spring Onions
Leave a few to flower and set seed and you will never need plant them again.

Onion flower

Swiss chard
Grows throughout the year, is relatively hassle free and you can continue to eat it even when
it goes to seed.

A multipurpose, quick growing crop. You can eat the leaves and root

Beetroot harvest 1

Salad greens
Do successive sowing to ensure regular harvesting.

Salad greens

Rocket, mustard, Bok Choy, mizuna
Easy to grow and will seed themselves.

Quickest vegetable from seed to harvest.

Beans and cherry tomatoes

Easy to plant and grow and give mammoth harvests throughout summer.

cherry toms 1

Gem squash and courgettes
The easiest and most prolific of the squash family.

Gem Squash 3

Written by Jane Griffiths. Photographs: Jane Griffiths and Keith Knowlton. Sourced from Jane’s Delicious Garden, (published by Sunbird Publishers, a division of Jonathan Ball Publishers)

For further information go to: www.janesdeliciousgarden.com


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