Your never to young or old to garden and grow your own food!
Your never to young or old to garden and grow your own food!

A few weeks back, after writing an article about canning and growing our own food at the farm (How The Garden Feeds Us) – Mary and I were amazed at the flood of comments from all over who wanted to grow their own food – but thought they might be too old, or too limited by space to garden. Those comments ended up inspiring today’s post –  all about low maintenance gardening that all ages can enjoy.

Whether it’s a pre-schooler bringing home a sunflower seed to grow in a tiny clay pot – a city-dweller growing vegetables on their terrace, or an experienced gardener passing on the tricks and  tips they have learned to the next generation – the beauty of gardening is that it can and does cross all ages and barriers.

Just growing your own simple salads can be so rewarding....and delicious.
Just growing your own simple salads can be so rewarding….and delicious.

For me, I can still remember watching my dad working in the garden, and my mom canning everything from tomatoes to green beans. Those early memories planted the seeds for me too – and the love of gardening.  And I can also tell you – that no matter what – I will always be growing something for as long as I can!

Here are some great ways to enjoy gardening without all of the work:

1. Container Gardening:

Potted plants on a patio or deck can yield plenty of peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables and are easier to maintain than a full-fledged garden
Potted plants on a patio or deck can yield plenty of peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables and are easier to maintain than a full-fledged garden

Containers are one of the easiest ways to grow your own food no matter where you live.  Whether you are young or old, or anywhere in between, limited by space, or just want to try your hand at growing for the first time – containers are the perfect way to low maintenance gardening. Even with our garden at the farm – we make full use of containers on our back porch at our home throughout the growing seasons with herbs, small salad tomatoes and peppers.

The key to successful container growing is to have good quality soil, proper drainage, and keep the plants watered regularly.  We use lightweight lava rocks in the bottom of our containers to provide air and water pockets and keep them from becoming too heavy.  We then fill with a lightweight potting soil, and mix in a little of our compost for extra vitality.  You can grow virtually anything in a container – just remember if you choose to grow heavier veggy crops like tomatoes, peppers or cucumbers – to give them a stake or cage for support, and put them in a large enough container to let them expand their roots.

Straw Bale Gardening:

Straw bale planting is an easy way to create an instant, raised bed.
Straw bale planting is an easy way to create an instant, raised bed.

Straw bale gardening is another great way to garden with limited space or effort. You can grow a few peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers in a single bale – or put a few together to create an instant garden space.  Simply create 6 to 8″ deep planting holes in the straw with a knife – fill the holes with soil and plant away.  The straw helps to hold in the soil and moisture, and also allows air and nutrients to easily reach the plant’s root structure. As the bale decomposes throughout the season – it helps to keep the plants growing strong.

Straw Bale Crates:  

A simple straw bale crate planter made from pallets
A simple straw bale crate planter made from pallets

If you want to tidy up the straw bale method to be a bit more attractive – here is a simple way to make crates for straw bale gardening.  (See: Straw Bale Crate Gardening) The best part, you can make them with pallets for virtually free!  You can then use the crates at the end of the season to make your compost pile in – and just add a new bale the following year to begin again! The added height of the straw bale makes it easy for those who have trouble bending over to garden.

Raised Row Beds:

Our Raised Row Beds - Peppers and Tomatoes Area
Our Raised Row Beds – Peppers and Tomatoes Area

Raised Row beds are actually the method that we employ in our large garden at the farm – but they are an extremely low maintenance way to garden – and can  be done on a small-scale anywhere – with no need for fancy (and expensive) raised bed structures.

You can start it right on the ground – with a layer of straw or shredded leaves, topped off with 4 to 6 inches of topsoil and compost.  Simply plant your vegetables down and watch them grow – with no need for a rototiller at all! See: Grow Simple –  How To Create Raised Row Gardens

Just remember – your never too young to start learning how to grow, and never too old to keep on growing the food you love.  You may have to change the methods a little – but the amazing taste of growing your own fresh veggies never gets old!

If you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening  Tips every Tuesday – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!

23 thoughts on “Low Maintenance Gardening – You Are Never Too Old…Or Young To Have A Garden!

  • November 2, 2015 at 10:40 am
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    I have a space that I would like to use, but it is full of bermuda, I wonder if I can use this raised row concept over the bermuda and then fill in rows with straw or woodchips – Yes? No? Ideas…?

  • November 2, 2015 at 8:19 am
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    I have had a garden the size of yours in the picture, raised rows and although we got lots of produce, I probably won’t have a garden next year. I am 62 years old and the amount of work it takes isn’t worth it, there’s simply way too much weeding! When I spend HOURS every week in the hot sun pulling weeds and Bermuda grass, it seems it would be much more easier to just go to my farmer’s market and get fresh homegrown veggies! I live on acreage in rural AL and the soil is all clay so that’s another expense to amend the soil with loads of compost !

  • July 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm
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    I am physically disabled. I have to do everything myself. My husband not very helpful. I need a raised garden where I can sit when I can’t tolerate standing. I eventually want to can what I reap. Do you have any ideas?

  • March 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm
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    I live in Northern Nevada and love reading your articles. I unfortunately have to use raised beds to grow a garden. The “soil” is high alkaline sand in this area. Making my own compost to fill them has been a blessing, and a lot of work. Watering has been a challenge, mulching is a must to help hold as much moisture as possible. My goal is to supply most of our vegetables for the year. 4 beds or so, added per year, has just about given me enough to reach my goal. Your articles on calculating amounts and recipes have been great, Thanks!

  • February 20, 2014 at 8:33 pm
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    I would like to do some of the container gardens (those ornamental peppers are beautiful!) but I was wondering if there were certain materials to buy and certain ones to watch out for when picking the container. If I’m going to be growing food in them I don’t want any weird plastic chemicals leaching into the soil and therefore my food plant. Thank you

    • February 20, 2014 at 8:36 pm
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      Kati – they do great in containers – You can always use clay or terra cotta pots if you want to stay away from plastic. Good luck growing this year!

  • December 3, 2013 at 11:39 am
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    Hi Jim and Mary,
    Oh we love your beautiful surrounding your are living – oh beautiful although it took hours of very hard work without hard work it is not possible. Keep sending important news and ideas to us
    I would like to ask favour if you can just let me know what do you with rain water in that big white barrel you have in your garden during winter months. Do you just run the water in your garden or let the water freeze in the in the container for future use?.
    After I saw your container I found one in my area and got it for my garden use. That is the reason I want to know. If water freeze and crack the barrel.
    Thanks and hoping for your reply.
    almas.

    • December 3, 2013 at 11:55 am
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      Please leave a reply on email address. Hope I am bothering you too much.
      thanks
      almas

  • November 26, 2013 at 5:42 am
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    We are big (and getting bigger) in the UK when it comes to growing your own produce. Your home and land are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the tips. Much appreciated

  • November 23, 2013 at 6:21 pm
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    Hi,
    Thanks for your beautiful and kind reply to my interest in red chilles which makes your garden so great. I give below my address for you and I thanks you for the help and you are willing to share the seeds with me. It will be early xmas present to me.

    Almas Nathoo
    82 Montana Cre.
    Kitchener ,On.
    N2N 2S1

    Thanks once again and will share with my friends too.

  • November 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm
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    I would love to get your Tuesday newsletter. Love to garden and liked your article. Thanks

  • November 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm
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    Hi,
    I enjoy your website so much. please keeping sending new information. I am a gardener and grow everything and eat during winter months. also share with friends and neighbours and they love the vegetables and now they too gardening in their backyard and ask for advise and I suggest to them about your webpage. Please I love the pot of thai chillies you keep in front of your house? Where did you get the seeds. I am interesting please let me know. My webpage :almas.nathoo@yahoo.com Thanks and keep the good work you are doing
    almas.

    • November 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm
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      Almas – so glad you enjoy! The peppers are an ornamental variety we found awhile back called Sangria. We save the seeds each year and grow hundred of them to put in pots and the landscape around the farm. They really do well from early spring until late fall. Send us an email to thefarm@owgarden.com and let us know your address and I will gladly send you a few seeds to grow them. Jim

  • November 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm
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    I have never seen straw bale gardening before and think it’s a brilliant idea! I especially love the idea of the pallet crate. Is mold/mildew from water ever a concern/problem with the straw?

  • November 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm
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    It’s true! When we moved to Illinois, the lab (where my husband works) has a gardening club. We got 1 plot, then this fall, we now have 2 plots that total 1600 square feet. I was overwhelmed at the size. I had never gardened in my life, save for a couple of home containers. What was I to do? Well, I’m in my 50s and am learning to garden for the first time. This past summer, our garden turned out fantastic. To save work, we’re also doing sheet mulching (raised bed lasagne garden), no rototilling. We started our first plot by rototilling but found out about permaculture right quick. It’s awesome and will require so much less work, especially physical labor!

  • November 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm
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    I love the straw bale crates made from pallets. Don’t you have to make sure they are not treated with anything?
    I agree that age should not be a factor in deciding to garden. I hope to garden ’til the day I die.
    I’d love for you to share this on the Maple Hill Hop today!

  • November 19, 2013 at 11:20 am
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    ***Headline Misspelling: The “your” in the headline should by “you’re.” You are (or you’re) never too old…

    • November 19, 2013 at 11:26 am
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      Yep Alfred! You are correct!! My mistake…lol. It is fixed now. I missed that in my editing stage 🙂

  • November 19, 2013 at 10:01 am
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    Good article. I am printing it off for a non-computer-owning friend of mine. I can’t help myself and must point out, however, that it should read, “…you are never too old,” or “you’re never too old….”
    Love your site. I am originally from Ohio (Guernsey County) and now live in Michigan. This reminds me of “down home.”

    • November 19, 2013 at 11:25 am
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      Billie – Your are so right! and thanks for finding that and letting me know! It is corrected now 🙂 Missed that in my editing stage 🙂 Thank you so much for the kind words about the blog – and glad you liked it!

  • November 19, 2013 at 9:48 am
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    Once again you have out done yourself with all the help. Thank you so much for your kindness is presenting this to us folks that are just starting.
    Dwight

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