I see several posts about gardens and hear many struggles and such back breaking labor put into them and I wanted to share about my families garden. I wanted to let people know that it doesn't have to be so labor intensive.
You don't have to get up and water morning noon and night, you don't have to get down on your knees and weed for ours in the hot sun every day. You don't have to get your hands all dirty digging and planting either. You don't even need any chemicals or fertilizers. Gardening can be really really simple and you can have a great harvest with very little time invested and almost no labor.
We have a kemlite/carpet garden. I generally call it a Carpet Garden but we grow our sweet corn out of Kemlite. Kemlite is this nifty material also known as glasbord, it often covers the walls in restaurants and truck stop bathrooms. Its very inexpensive and durable.
First you till your garden, we don't even do this every year. One year we till, the next we just "aerate" it with something like this:
a person can aerate their garden area with almost anything stronger than dirt and is poky. The idea is just to fluff up your soil a bit. I have heard of people putting nails in their shoes to aerate by walking the area. Lots of techniques. With a little creativity one can come up with something. So having access to a fancy tiller is not always necessary. We don't have one, our garden is great. Every other year or so we just borrow our neighbors.
Her is an image of some typical Kemlite, though it comes in many textures and colors.
After you have fluffed up the soil you lay the Kemlite down, or old carpet. Whatever one you have easy access to, here is a sample of old carpet ; )
If you decide to use Kemlite, after you have laid it down in the area you are growing in you will need a drill, or some kind of hole punch. To create holes in the Kemlite suitable for your plant. Generally the holes need not be any larger than three inches wide. The idea is to give the stalk of the plant plenty of room to thrive but not enough room for any weeds to thrive. Drill/Punch the holes like you would lay cookies on a cookie sheet. Space them out, line them up.
Carpet is generally easier to work with but some people have easy access to Kemlite. If you use carpet you simply roll it out fiber side down over the area you are growing in. Take a box cutter and mentally map out where you are putting the holes for plants. With your box cutter slice two side of a triangle to make a flap, tuck the flap underneath. The size of the flap should allow about a 3 inch imaginary circle to fit in the hole the flap leaves behind.
After you have all of the holes for your plants to go in. You can begin planting. If you are using seedlings you'll need a little bitty shovel or just dig with your hands. We like to use actual seeds.
My husband created a device using scrap iron that just stabs seed size holes into the ground. People get really creative making their own seed planters here is an example of one guy that got way into it...
My husbands is far more primitive. Its just a piece of thin iron with another piece welded to the top as a handle. We just put weight on the handle and stab holes in the proper pre-made spots about two inches deep while the other person walks along behind dropping seeds in the holes carrying a bucket of dirt and sprinkling it over the dropped seed.
Voila, your garden is planted. You can do whatever you fancy as far as labeling things and making sure you know what you planted where lol.
We use old worn tires instead of tomato cages. We use rubber snakes to keep the critters and birds out of the garden.
My husband set up a watering system. He basically took a standard spike lawn water-er, this kind:
and fastened it to homemade tripod contraption so it was sitting about 4 feet off the ground. We put it in the middle of the garden and every day after work we turn it on and shut it off before bed.
There is no weeding involved with this gardening "style" that is the biggest benefit. The fact that the plants surroundings are carpet or kemlite make it a natural bug deterrent. When watering the kemlite or carpet pool or absorb the water and in the heat of the day continuously provide the plants water, this helps with problems like plants getting sunburned or drastic changes from bone dry to sloppy wet.
I'm sharing this because this is a technique that seems to be somewhat of a secret, my husbands family are the only people Ive ever known to do this. I'm also sharing because I think our garden is very impressive, and comparatively we spend a significantly less amount of time "gardening" then other people do with gardens not as nice as ours.
After the harvest is over you just roll up your kemlite or carpet and wait till next spring to do it again. The carpet may need to be replaced every other year or so because it rots and some how becomes one with the earth lol.
So that is how we do our garden the easy way. Phew, that took much longer to explain than I anticipated. Good luck with all of your gardens this spring!