Are you overwhelmed by the seemingly endless list of gardening jobs? There are five essential jobs that I do on a weekly basis because they save time later – and they can save you time too. So let’s run through them.
First of all, doing some weeding little and often ensures that you keep on top of it. I pluck the annual weeds and grasses out then leave them on top of the earth so that the nutrients go back down into the earth. On a warm sunny day, the plucked weeds will soon wither and die off. Or use a hoe to cut the weeds off.
Gardening jobs – Hoe Those weeds
Once a week, quickly go over the surface with your hoe. By doing this, it stops any weeds that are starting to root, so they never actually gain a foothold. After a while, you don’t really need to bother because there aren’t really many weeds left to kill off. There are some weeds that I just leave well alone, especially if they are at the edge of the plot because they are good for wildlife and they are good for distracting pest predators as well. A case in point is weeds such as nettles, vetch, etc.
On the lawn, I also leave a few weeds to grow. They are wildflowers – things like daisies, dandelions, buttercups, etc. These wildflowers provide forage for insects like bees and butterflies, which then go on to pollinate your crops. So, you are working with nature all the time.
Cut and mow
I cut and mow paths through the grass to keep it looking neat enough, and I do cut it occasionally (once every three weeks or so) – but by letting the grass grow a little bit longer, you’re getting more wildlife, and it is all beneficial wildlife that is going to help you grow good food. Also, when I am doing my weekly weeding, I am also looking at the condition of the plants – how are they doing, are they healthy, are there any pests or diseases, and of course, are they getting enough soil moisture?
The way to check if there is enough moisture in the soil is to sink a finger in down to about the second knuckle and feel down. If it feels cool or ever so slightly damp, then you know there is enough moisture there.
Now, when it comes to watering, the solution isn’t little and often. It is the opposite – infrequently, and loads! So I like to go over it, give it a good soaking, do the next bit, and then come round and do it all again, so you’re soaking down.
That way, you are not just soaking the top little bit there; you’re getting down a few inches (five centimetres or so), right down to where the roots are, and that means you only really need to water once a week, or if you’re somewhere really hot perhaps twice a week, but it makes it a lot easier.
Wherever possible, I prefer to use rainwater. It has a slightly lower pH, which is much better for your plants, and using rainwater is more natural, although it is absolutely fine to use mains water. If using a watering can, fill it up when you have finished watering, and leave it to stand for as long as possible to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
I like to keep the paths between my raised beds nice and clean, and weed-free. Having nice tidy paths is a bit like having a well-organized office or a tidy sock drawer even – it is motivating, and it makes you feel encouraged to crack on with the jobs. There is always a weed sneaking around at the side of the bed, so I yank them out and scatter them on the veg plot to dry them out.
Top up beds
I top my beds up with bark chippings, and that’s a great home for predators like ground beetles. So they come in, and they take care of the pests in the beds.
All of this gradually rots down, and then I top it up again. The bark is quite affordable in garden centres and nurseries. You can pick them up and top up beds with whatever you have got. Having paths covered with wood chips also keeps it from turning into a quagmire when it rains.
If you have a very large plot, you can buy bark chippings in bulk, from places like Wickes (I am not an affiliate).
Gardening is many things, but one thing it certainly is not is static. Plans are fluid and evolve very much with the weather and the progress of the season.
Check garden plans
So, as well as tidying up ready for the new week, I like to do one thing at the weekend to check the garden plans and see how everything is coming along. How is it all looking? Does something merit more or less space, and should my plan be tweaked accordingly?
If I check the plan in, say, July, about a month from now as I write, I can see that there’s already quite a few gaps appearing. So I need to be thinking ahead to what I can sow to ensure that I have got young plants ready to drop in place. I’ll also look at my plant list to see how it’s all going, making a note of anything that really needs sowing or planting right now before that window of opportunity passes by.
And then, with an idea of what I need to sow, I can go through my seedbox and get out the seeds I’m going to be sowing over the coming week, ready to do just that.
Gardening is full of successes and failures, and I like to keep track of all of that to shape next year’s decisions. So taking these few moments now will potentially save a lot of heartache and time later next year. I must confess I am quite good at procrastinating, and I’m a dreadful one for putting off those jobs that I don’t want to tackle. But like anything – if you tackle one of those big jobs, just one of them at a time each week, you’ll soon get through them.
It is empowering, and you will feel great for it. Jobs like sorting out and tidying this lot or pruning bushes or trees before it shades all the beds, and so on.
In summary, breaking down those big jobs into manageable parcels suddenly makes them so much less intimidating.
What is your list of must-do weekly gardening jobs?
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