Many gardeners look forward to planting the perfect patch but never have enough time to do it right. Take the hassles out of gardening in 2021 by using the plants to do the work for you. Here are five ways you can harvest more vegetables, herbs, and flowers while growing fewer plants.

Choosing plants

1. Choose Plants That You Will Actually Use

Many gardeners plant a lot more items that they will have time to care for. To keep this from happening to you, make a list of plants you love, those you use in abundance, and a list of plants that went to seed or the compost.

Immediately cross off all the plants that went to the compost because you never harvested them. Next, double-check the plants that went to seed. They may come back this year without a second planting. If you want to replant them, consider limiting the number of plants in your garden this year.
Take the time to research each plant on this list and look at the estimated yields. Different varieties will require more or less care, depending on your regional planting zone. Choose ones that are the most versatile in case you change your mind in mid-season.

Here’s a good example: Tomatoes that grow great in zone 5 will have a shorter growing period in Zone 3 and may not yield as big a crop. However, if you plant cherry tomatoes along your fence, you get flowers, fruit, and a beautiful backdrop for a few marigolds and calendula.

2. Take Advantage of Companion Planting Guides

Companion planting guides give you a list of plants that like to cozy up to each other. This style of planting reduces weeding and insect infestations and promotes larger yields. One example of this type of gardening is planting corn and potatoes in the same plot. The nutrient exchange allows both plants to thrive while also reducing stress to the soil.

Sowing plants in garden

3. Use the Right Mulch

Using yard clippings to mulch your garden may work if the materials are composted. Fresh cut grass and weeds will add seeds to the garden plot creating more work for you in the future. Therefore, it is recommended this material decompose well ahead of time. If you are having an issue with crabgrass and weeds in your garden, you may want to take these preventative measures before starting your garden. Mulch containing walnut bark can kill many plants in your garden due to the chemical juglone they produce as a natural defense.

4. Put Plants with Similar Needs Near Each Other

Plants that require nearly the same care will benefit from feeding off each other by sharing water, minerals, and fertilizer. Check the companion guide carefully to ensure the plants will make good neighbors first. The right combination of flowers, veggies, and herbs can make a healthier spot in the garden and create fabulous focal points. There are plenty of colors, and the plants can have the added benefit of drawing in pollinators while repelling pests. Taking these steps will increase the beauty of your plants while saving you time and money when it comes to caring for your garden. You may even grow a vegetable garden inside to save even more time and effort.

Beautiful Garden with vegetables and flowers

5. Plant the Garden in Layers with the Taller Plants in the Back.

Layering your garden is a quick way to reduce evaporation and increase sunlight exposure while meeting the plant’s needs. Put the taller plants, such as corn, in the back to shade plants that bolt under heavy sunlight, like some lettuce varieties. Add smaller plants in the front to retain moisture longer and improve nutrient exchanges in the soil. Thyme is an excellent ground cover because it only grows 2-3″ tall and provides beautiful flowers in the mid-spring. As a protective layer, it reduces evaporation allowing nearby plants to drink their fill. Ground cover herbs also reduce weeds because they act as a barrier to the sunlight.

Make your garden work harder with less effort. Plant only what you need and use tried and true garden tricks that reduce the time you spend weeding, watering, and fertilizing. Indoor houseplants can complement your garden to add natural beauty to your home. Create the best garden ever in 2021.