Who says soil is necessary for gardening? Aquaponics is one of two soil-less gardening methods we highlight. This is an organic gardening system that uses fish waste to nourish plants. This doesn’t mean your plants are submerged, however. A variety of systems exist, including simple trays in which plants sit: their bottoms are hydrated and fertilized by the aquatic ecosystem. Kits are available for purchase and because you get to choose the type of fish involved, children are curious about aquaponic gardening.
Just like a normal fish tank, your aquaponics system will need monitoring and occasional testing, so don’t forget to include your gardener tot in these duties. For an overview of aquaponics and greater starter tips, head to Oregonlive.com.
Perhaps you’ve seen one in a window already: a vertical cascade of hanging vessels–typically halved soda/water bottles–home to soil-less leafy green plants and herbs. The method is simple enough. Plants grow out of the bottle while an air pump (such as those used in fish tanks) circulate liquid nutrients that gently flow down the structure. Sunlight is necessary, but for windows that don’t receive enough light, hanging LED lights will work.
It goes without saying that this method of gardening is ideal for residents with no patch of grass to claim as their own; the method is also dirtless. But first-floor residents beware: you are sure to get curious by-passers peering into your personal space, so consider a privacy curtain. Read about one woman’s window farm initiatives here.
This method should by no means be considered the lazy way. It’s the ingenious way! Soil bag gardening can be customized to the amount of space you have available. You can even start a soil-bag garden near a window that gets full sun. If you’re a beginner and just want to test your green thumb, go out and pick up one 40-pound bag of top soil.
Instead of spreading that soil in a raised bed or container, simply lay it flat. You’ll cut off the entire top of the packaging, exposing a window of pre-ready soil for your plants. You might think the next step is too easy: plant seedlings at the appropriate time (found on the back of the seed packets).
This method is more than just convenient. You’ll have practically no weeds and, if you choose to continue your gardening adventures, over time the bag will etch an automatic bed outline in your lawn.
For more information, Mother Earth News has a detailed article.
It’s as delicious as it sounds: a method of layered vegetable gardening that reduces your workload. Lasagna gardening actually offers a reprieve from mismanaged gardening. This method is ideal if you have let your gardens go wild or have just inherited an unkempt yard.
The lasagna gardening method actually encourages neglect…sort of. Instead of taking the time to clear out unharvested crops, resilient weeds, or dead plants, simply compact them and place a compostable buffer on top: cardboard boxes, newspapers, straw, manure, leaves, or grass will do. Not only will this eliminate unsightly terrain, but you’ll notice that plants you smooshed to smithereens will actually persevere over time. Top off your layered garden with additional seedlings to get an amalgamation of crops: no digging, tilling, or weeding required.
RUTH STOUT NO-WORK GARDEN
The second unusual gardening method in our list to be named after a person: the Ruth Stout no-work garden. This method follows the same basis of the last two methods: less digging, soil preparation, weeding, and tilling. Ruth herself used just one fertilizer (cottonseed or soybean meal) and didn’t bother maintaining a compost pile.
Her trick? She kept a thick layer of vegetable mulch on her vegetable and flower gardens. Potential matter includes hay, straw, leaves, pine needles, weeds, garbage and even sawdust. As the mulch rots, soil is enriched and more mulch is added. Her one caveat is to start with an area that has at least an 8”-thick layer of mulch in order to prevent weeds.
Here, Ruth explains her method herself at Mother Earth News.