Low Maintenance Crops for my Nan (and anyone else for that matter)
To cut a long story short, I went to see my awesome nan. She has a man come around once a week to look after garden, and at the back there is a small patch which he has dug some compost in, ready for a few vegetables.
This got me and my nan talking. Bearing in mind she’s 88, and the man only comes around weekly, what veg could she grow in the space?
Of course, I’m not suggesting you can sow and leave the following veg. They all need some water and weeding, but from my experience these are the best veg to grow if you’re low on time or simply fancy growing vegetables with minimum effort. Or you’re 88 and reliant on your gardener weekly visit.
Perennials are always a winner for low maintenance and reliability, and none more so than rhubarb (pictured, even growing in the snow). My mum has had the same patch for over 30 years, just dividing and mulching here and there as she goes along.
Leave well alone for the first season so the plant can establish, and after that you’re well away with consistent harvests, year after year.
Beets are a wonderfully reliable crop. They can go in earlier than most veg, and the big seeds are easy to handle. Varieties such as boltardy are bolt resistant, so can be left in the ground, and germination rates are good.
Thinning is often recommended for better crops, but I’ve found that they’ve often sorted themselves out when I’ve returned from a holiday.
I’m often guilty of forgetting about my winter crops whilst the more glamorous summer fruit and veg is stealing the show. I love leeks as they don’t seem too bothered by my disregard, and so long as I give them a weekly water they’ll go about their business and suddenly fatten up for winter.
F1 variety Below Zero can withstand the harshest of weather, and will stand for ages without bolting. Below Zero is rust resistant too, making it a reliable variety to grow.
I very rarely water my potatoes once they’re planted, choosing to let the rain do that, and have never been disappointed with my crop. I grew pink fir apples this year for the first time and they were incredibly productive.
You can lay a tarpaulin on the soil and grow the potato plants through slits too, keeping the weeds down at the same time.
One of the most difficult things about growing onions is making sure the pesky pigeons don’t nick the sets once you’ve planted them. Once this challenge is overcome, the only real maintenance required for onions is weeding and a watering once a week.
Dwarf French Beans
I have never, ever failed with a sowing of French beans. I think this says more for their reliability and robustness than it does for my gardening ability. They require watering at seedling stage, and once the plant start flowering, but having originated from warmer climbs, French beans are used to drier conditions.
I adore chard, especially the perpetual spinach variety. In fact, I think I’m in real danger of becoming a perpetual spinach bore. This leafy green is just so darn brilliant though. Hardy, reliable germinator, quick to mature, and seemingly unperturbed by pests.
Chard has a long cropping season too – a sowing in March and one in August will see you harvesting for 9 months.