Vegetable gardening is a medium-maintenance, three month, very enjoyable endeavor. Most of the work happens in just a few minutes daily during the summer months. My style has changed since retirement.
I use to let all of the garden work pile up until the weekend and then spend several hours in the sun. Recently I have been spending between one half hour to one hour in the garden every evening before dark and am ahead of the weeds!
I do not use herbicides or pesticides near my garden, and this is the only way to be. Some gardeners compromise their crops to chemicals to save just a few hours work.
Most of the summers work in a vegetable garden is mindless tending. The real thoughts need to happen in the months before you plant. Preparing to plant your vegetable garden can be a thoughtless chore, but you will find yourself with a thoughtless garden. If you write it down, or sketch the garden as you wish it, there is no reason that you should not have a plentiful harvest. Of course plants may fail and leave you a gap in your ‘garden map’ but there are later in the year crops that can be planted in that space.
In order to successfully plant a vegetable garden you need to have the soil worked up properly. For me, this means taking buckets to the local farm and pick up several pounds of dry manure during the winter. This fertilizer I like to spread out on snow if there is any present. The spring snow melt helps that fertilizer seep down into the soil. Come thaw and drying I till the soil with the roto-tiller. I like for the soil to be able to drain out of my hand like rice would but some years that is nearly impossible. As fine soil as possible for the year is your goal.
With spring upon us we must wait until the conditions are good for seeds to sprout before we plant. Each part of the world warms up at a different pace so consult a ‘heartiness map’ for the ‘approximate last annual frost free date’. This information will tell you when the threat of frost is past. Then, consult the directions on the back of your seed packet for how many days to wait until planting.
When the date comes, draw a line in the fine powdery soil as deep as the planting directions recommend and pour the seeds in at the recommended density. Fill in your line and wait! The thinking part of planting a vegetable garden is done. Now, wait for the competing weeds and critters to come and give you a run for your money.