Is lazy gardening real?

Lazy gardening is absolutely plausible, but we’ll need to accept a few things (“changes”) before we can consider it “successful”. I am not an expert, just a nature nerd who loves gardening, and tends to experiment a lot when growing things (read: lazy gardener).

  1. Accept that lazy gardening will not produce the same output as more intensive methods of gardening. For example, if you don’t trellis your tomatoes, you’ll still likely get a lot, but they’ll be more prone to pests and disease, so you’ll get less than if you had trellised.
  2. Consider that time is in fact a valuable output. Lazy gardening will technically take less time given the same square footage. More time to enjoy the finer things, like planting more gardens, preserving the harvest, hanging with family and friends, carving wood, watching birds… Although less time to do the annoying things like trellising and pruning your tomatoes.
  3. Accept failure of conventional crops. Most of the seeds you get from big seed companies are bred for specific care requirements. Some with regular fertilizing, pruning, soil types, even pest control measures. You’ll need to look outside the conventional kitchen crops. You probably can’t grow that delicious Peaches and cream corn variety, but you can sure as hell find some sweet corn that grows under your own constraints.
  4. Double-down on what works well for you. First, you should only be growing/trying what you can use or eat. Second, if you find something you like to eat, that’s easy to grow - grow more of it! No sense in growing things that you or your family or livestock won’t eat.
  5. Widen the genetic net but narrow the target. In discovering what grows well, it’s likely you’ll need to test a lot of seed. If there are plants you want, get a bunch of genetics and test them all. ie, Grow 20 types of tomatoes, and save seed from those that grow best.
  6. Commit to the method. To find the plants that work well for you & your lazy ways, consider the STUN method: Shear Total Utter Neglect. Throw the seeds where you want them to grow, with the level of care you expect them to grow with. Don’t water them if you don’t want to. Don’t even cover them with soil if you don’t want. The seeds that want to grow the way you want to plant them are the plants you want.
  7. Now that we’re saving seed, and widening the genetic net, we can’t be afraid of a little pollen promiscuity. Especially with plants you grow from saved seed. More crossing = more chances at future success. It’ll take 3-4 generations of selection to start seeing some consistency, and about 7 to get something truly consistent. The cool thing about breeding your own, is that you can select for traits that matter to you; why do all your pumpkins need to look the same if they taste the same?
  8. Save seeds! The outcome of this method is ideally seeds from successful plants. The plants that will thrive when you hit them with the STUN method. If you save seed from plants you babied, you’ll always have to baby them! It’s an endless cycle.
  9. Lean into perennials and self-seeding annuals/biennials. Not just trees, either. There are plenty of herbaceous edible perennials that will keep coming back. As for annuals — let your greens flower. Let the stalks sit over winter, and you’ll have early starts in the spring. This guarantees more plants next year with absolutely NO WORK.
  10. Forget clean rows. Nature doesn’t do rows. While this might make weeding more difficult in conventional gardening, there are other lazy ways to deal, like heavy mulching, polycultures, and maximizing ground-cover. Strawberries (wild or cultivated) work well for this.
  11. Get weird. Look beyond the conventional, ignore traditions. There are HUNDREDS of delicious, edible plants that aren’t commonly found in the grocery store. Free the cucked perennials, like garlic, potatoes, onions. Let them naturalize for an endless lazy supply! These root-fruits will keep multiplying, and coming back if you let them.
  12. Accept the chaos. I don’t think lazy gardening is incompatible with conventional gardening, but it’s a lot easier to maintain a more natural (see: chaotic) pattern when lazy gardening. A patch of chamomile here, a squash mound here, lettuce reseeding in between perennial herbs like echinacea, sage, thyme…