I have long been a believer that you don’t need to have a “green thumb” in order to have a great garden.  In reality, what it takes is a combination of a few simple things – like patience, a consistent and persistent approach, a good sense of humor and humility, and practicing basic organic principles that build incredible soil and a productive garden. 

Having a great garden requires just a few simple things. (photo : Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova / Shutterstock )
Having a great garden requires just a few simple things. (photo : Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova / Shutterstock )

When you follow that plan – it is amazing just how enjoyable and rewarding backyard gardening can be.

Having a great garden doesn’t have to be back-breaking. You don’t need to spend countless hours weeding, watering, rototilling, hoeing, or fending off pests and disease. To be quite honest, those chores simply aren’t necessary when you put the 4 keys listed below into action. And when you do…it makes for one happy gardener!  

The 4 Big Keys To A Great Garden 

# 1 The Compost Pile – Compost is the real deal – and every great organic garden starts with a compost pile. Simple to create and maintain, a compost pile makes incredible use of plant and vegetable scraps, lawn clippings, coffee grounds, leaves and other “trash” that would otherwise end up in a landfill. As these natural materials break down in your pile – they give back a rich, perfectly balanced, nutrient filled wonder soil that can power your garden year after year. If you want a productive garden – then compost is a must!  (See: How To Create A Simple Compost Pile)

great garden
Mulch is a huge key in a low maintenance and productive garden!

#2 Fall In Love With Mulch – Natural mulches like shredded leaves, grass clippings, straw, wood or bark chips  and compost are a happy gardener’s best friend. Using mulch in the garden saves hours of chores by all but eliminating weeds and reducing the need for watering. Better yet, it helps protects plants from soil borne disease, all the while improving your soil as it breaks down each season.  

It also eliminates the need for tilling garden rows week after week to keep weeds down. Tilling actually causes more weeds in the long run – replanting weed seeds as it turns the soil over. It also can destroy soil structure all the while shaking your body into oblivion. So, save a little on gas, time, and your back – and mulch!  (See : The Keys To Using Mulch In The Garden)

#3 Plant A Cover Crop This Fall – Cover crops are simple to plant, require no maintenance, and build great soil by returning tremendous amounts of organic matter and nutrition back to the garden. They also protect the soil from losing valuable nutrients from erosion through the harsh winter months, and keep blowing weed seeds from finding a place to call home. 

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Cover crops protect and nourish your soil.

Cover crops like annual rye, buckwheat, or annual clover are an inexpensive way to provide a perfect, nutrient-filled winter blanket for your garden – and you will be amazed how much better your soil becomes each and every year.

#4 Know That You Will Never Know It All – And Have Fun! Last but not least, it’s important to know that you will never have all the answers when it comes to gardening, The one thing you can count on for sure – is that you will have failures! Every season will throw something different at you – drought, too much rain – a new pest, or in our case this year – a family of bunnies that have decided to build a home in our green bean patch.

Things will go wrong, you will lose a crop here and there, and for one reason or another, seeds may not always sprout. The real key is to keep it fun and keep it real, and keep learning! It’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t quite grow the way as planned – after all – at the very least – wasn’t it much better that at least you were out in the open air of a garden?

I think that is why I absolutely love talking to fellow gardeners so much. In general -they are some of the most happy and optimistic people you will ever meet – always knowing that next year, they are going to grow the best tomato, pepper or pumpkin ever!

Failure is good. It makes you appreciate those moments of sweet success even more, and it certainly will keep you humble. As we always tell folks when we get the opportunity to speak – there is a reason the biggest chapter in our Growing Simple book is on failures – without them – we wouldn’t have any success at all.

Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary

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