Five Favorite Crops For Our “Lazy Man’s” Garden

It’s about time to think about starting some seeds!

The last two summers, we were renting a house that already had a huge garden plot when we moved there. The soil was rich & ready to go, though it had been unused for a year prior to our moving there & had been overrun with weeds. We learned a few things.

First, combatting weeds is not for the faint of heart. We spent the better part of our first summer pulling up every weed sprout in sight. Then when we went away for one week in August & came home to weeds that were taller than my knees, we discovered the next thing…

It was a whole lot easier to pull weeds when they’re bigger. For one, there are fewer of them because the larger weeds choke out the smaller ones. And because of that, you can get a nice firm grip on a few big weeds and pull them a lot faster than pulling all the teeny tiny ones…but it still took a lot of work, blisters, etc.

So our third lesson was that a good effort at prevention is worth a more than whole bunch of weeding days. We found that buying a bale of hay got us decent “mulch” coverage to keep the weeds mostly at bay. Then we “spot treated” throughout our second summer with grass clippings. We also used some of that black gardening fabric in some areas. Both methods were effective, although the mulching needed to be redone a few times over the summer.

But, we are sorta lazy gardeners. There is a lot of room for improvement, but we do what we feel like doing when we feel like doing it. In August last year, we basically have the garden to the chickens. We let them in and they took over. They didn’t seem to discover most of the crops until weeks later because they were too busy scratching in the compost.

Anyway, here are our favorite things to grow that have worked, more or less, for us lazy gardeners.

1. Zucchini – last year we planted three zucchini plants & I was overjoyed at the sheer amount of zucchini! We almost never watered them unless they started looking wilty. They took over the garden! Great for stir fry, raw on salad, shredded & frozen for zucchini bread, and a delish zucchini pie made with a biscuit crust. You could also make veggie Alfredo, or just sauté with garlic & onions for a side (the kids even liked that!). We gave a lot away & still have a lot in the freezer.

2. Beans – these are easy & produce so many! “Bumper crops of beans!” My dad always used to say. It’s hard to mess these up, and again, last summer we rarely watered them, but I think by getting less water, we shortened their productive season a bit. More water next year. Definitely pick them before they get bumpy or they’re tough.

3. Basil – fresh basil is expensive at the grocery store & it’s SO easy to grow a lot at home. We never lack for basil in the summertime. It practically takes care of itself once established. We used to make lots of fresh pesto (which can be frozen), Caprese grilled cheese (our grocery store frequently has fresh mozzarella on managers special for $2.50/lb.), added to pasta dishes, in salads, etc.

4. Tomatoes – ok, these are probably not a lazy man’s crop, but we still get a decent crop despite our laziness. Cherry tomatoes do better than larger tomatoes for us lazies, but the bigger ones are worth the extra waterings!!! We mostly used them fresh on salads, pasta dishes, and sandwiches (which are summertime favorites here). In the future I want to focus on making sauce or salsa, though.

5. Yellow squash – I can really say all the same things for it as i say for zucchini. Again, great additions to veggie Alfredo, as a side, in casseroles, pasta, stir fry, etc. my Mother-in-law gave me a great squash soufflé recipe that is to-die-for.

Some things I have also tried that we liked: peppers, sugar snap peas, kale, lettuce, rosemary (great in your focaccia bread), mint (tea, and my own original recipe with Salmon & blueberries that I promise to share come blueberry season).

Things I would like to try: watermelon, kidney beans, blueberries, spinach, other dry beans, sunflowers, butternut squash.

What have you tried & liked? What didn’t work?

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