When many people think of gardening, they envision having to spend their weekend afternoons watering and weeding an endless plot. While some people do spend their spare time doing this, it is far from necessary. The secret to having an easy and almost carefree garden is in correct preparation. Every small step that you take at the beginning of the season can save you hours and headaches throughout the growing season.
Give your garden the best start by preparing the soil as deeply as possible. Dig your soil 12 inches deep and remove all rocks, weeds and large roots that you can find. Mix in a 4-inch layer of compost. This will help with soil drainage and loosen the soil so that tender roots can push through easier.
Choose your plant varieties with ease of growing in mind. Look for disease-resistant strains of popular plants. Most large seed developers have come up with seeds that will not succumb as easily to the most common diseases around, and growing these seeds will save you time and money by not having to combat sick plants.
Plant your seeds and seedlings as close together as possible without crowding out the roots. Read the seed packet or tag on your seedlings to discover the recommended planting distance. Most seeds will recommend a range of distances, like 2 to 4 inches. Use the smallest distance between plants in your garden. Plants closer together leave room for growing more food, and an abundance of leaves above means less sunlight for weeds to get below.
Plant anything with a vine near a fence or on a trellis. Trellising keeps the plants out of the mud, which will help to prevent food from rotting. Growing vertically also means that you have less bending and stretching when harvesting your vegetables.
Place newspapers or grass clippings on top of the soil around sprouted seedlings. This mulch will help to keep water from evaporating, which means that you won't have to water plants as often. It also helps cut down on the weeds that sprout, reducing or eliminating weeding time spent in your garden.