Low-Maintenance Gardening

Even if you don’t have time to turn your backyard into a lush garden, there are still ways to get fresh-from-the-yard produce into your kitchen.

By Katie Pollock Estes

Mar 2015

Low-Maintenance Gardening

I have friends who are gardening champions. At the beginning of a new calendar year, they have already filled their greenhouse with roughly 64 trillion little containers full of seeds that will one day become the ingredients in a beautiful garden-to-table dinner. Every year I am impressed by their bounty, and I vow to do a better job in my own garden next year. Then “next year” happens, and somehow I always forget.

If you are more like me than like my industrious friends, don’t worry. You can still have homegrown yummies on your dinner plate every night. I do it by focusing my garden on veggies that are easy to grow and produce quickly. Here are a few of my tips:

Love your lettuce. I like to sprinkle a variety of tender lettuce and leafy green seeds in one of our raised beds. They come up quickly, require almost zero effort and make way tastier salads than grocery store lettuce.

Embrace hearty herbs. We’ve been able to grow all kinds of herbs in pots in our backyard, and the best part is that they just keep coming back. We have oregano and mint that have come up every year whether we wanted them to or not.

Leave room for zucchini. Although these vines will spread out and take over your garden if you’re not careful, the tender squash is easy to grow in 417-land. In my yard, it’s always bountiful.

Relish the lowly radish. Put the seeds in the ground, and within a couple of weeks you’ll have some spicy, fast-growing salad accents popping up all over.

Construct a teepee. Green beans sprout quickly and grow so fast you can practically see them moving. 

• Cheat on the rest. We buy little tomato plants instead of starting them from seed. It’s pricier, but at least you’ll have fresh ruby red beauties on your dinner table.