Quantcast

Three Simple Steps for Planting a Chaos Garden

Food
Serge Vuillermoz / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Brian Barth

Most gardeners accumulate a cornucopia of partially used seed packets. After all, who's going to plant 500 lettuce seeds? After a few years, the germination rate drops significantly after the expiration date and you end up buying new packets. A "chaos garden" is the lazy person's way to use up those old seeds that may or may not still be viable.


The basic idea: Mix the seeds in a bowl, scatter in loose soil and then sit back and see what happens. Here are a few tips to maximize your success. You might find that you end up with far more produce for the effort invested than if you took the time to form perfect beds and plant everything in tidy rows.

Step 1: Prepare the Planting Area

The point here is to be lazy, so don't wear yourself out digging up every last weed and forking in tons of compost. If some seeds don't like the growing conditions, that's fine. As long as you start with soil that's somewhat loose and bare on the surface, some will sprout and take root. Consider it a game of survival of the fittest.

Step 2: Sort and Plant

You'll have better luck if you plant the larger seeds (corn, beans, squash, melons) first. Scatter them on the surface and cover them with half an inch of soil. Scatter the smaller seeds (greens, tomatoes, peppers, root crops) on top of that and cover with another quarter inch of soil. Running a rake back and forth through the soil after each layer will help distribute the seeds evenly. Don't hesitate to add flower seeds to the mix.

Step 3: Play Mother Nature’s Helper

Regular watering will ensure optimal germination. Alternatively, take your chances with the rain and see what happens. If Mother Nature cooperates, you'll soon have a tiny jungle of seedlings. Thin out some of the baby greens for salads (seedlings of beets, radishes and most other root crops are also edible), spacing them out enough to allow the rest to mature to full head size. Taller crops, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, can be trellised up, leaving smaller crops to grow at their base.

Or, you can let everything sprawl in a self-sorting tangle. You may be surprised at how well some crops share space. Many of the smaller, less vigorous plants will get crowded out as the season progresses, but that's ok — the point of a chaos garden is to labor as little as possible for maximum harvest.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Individual standing in Hurricane Harvey flooding and damage. Jill Carlson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis

Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Read More Show Less
A pregnant woman works out in front of the skyline of London. SHansche / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.

Read More Show Less
Ten feet of water flooded 20 percent of this Minot, North Dakota neighborhood in June 2011. DVIDSHUB / CC BY 2.0

By Jared Brey

When Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida panhandle last October, it killed at least 43 people, caused an estimated $25 billion in damage and destroyed thousands of homes.

Read More Show Less
A protestor holds up her hand covered with fake oil during a demonstration on the U.C. Berkeley campus in May 2010. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Forest fire continues to blaze in Indonesesia on Sept. 18. WAHYUDI / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly 200 people have been arrested in Indonesia over their possible connections to the massive wildfires raging in the nation's forest, officials said this week.

Read More Show Less

By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.

Read More Show Less
Covering Climate Now / YouTube screenshot

By Mark Hertsgaard

The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."

Read More Show Less