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Growing food at home is extraordinarily rewarding, particularly when the level of production starts to reduce supermarket bills and provide an overabundance of our favorite vegetables. Nothing is quite so enticing as the notion of “free” food, and this alone is often exciting enough to make gardening worthwhile.

However, creating a garden that puts out a massive harvest can take time, cause a bit of frustration, and, especially at first, require a lot of work. In other words, it isn’t always (or all) fun and games. Accounting for labor and resources, the food produced in a garden is hardly free, though it is much less expensive than buying it from the market.

So, sometimes we have to do what we can to keep our gardening work fresh and exciting while we are waiting for those harvests to arrive. With the right perspective and some simple techniques to liven up the garden, the work can become and remain a real joy.

1. Design Spaces

A rectangular garden of rows in the far corner of the backyard is no fun. It requires a short commute to get to it, and the visual of it offers little in the way of creativity. Sure, it’s fun to see vegetables growing, but what about the rest of the time?

Instead of staying conventional, it’s more fun to design spaces that we can appreciate for their visual appeal as well as the food they produce. Vegetable gardens needn’t be all straight lines or separate spaces. They can be cultivated as if ornamental gardens. After all, veggie patches are full of flowers, colors, and aromas as well.

2. Unusual Crops

Honestly, it’s hard to beat growing a huge crop of summer squashes, green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes, stuff most gardeners set out to do. Luckily, these are some of the easier and highest-producing crops to grow. Unfortunately, the ease sometimes makes the process a little dull.

Adding a new crop, especially something unusual, can throw some fun into the mix. Edible flowers, perennial plants, and wildly colored edibles puts some oomph into what’s happening in the veggie patch.

3. Vine Trellises

First of all, growing vining plants is an adventure in itself. Be it peas, beans, cucumbers, or winter squashes; the vines can be unpredictable, absolutely huge, and dripping in produce. Also, there are a lot of perennial vines to grow—grapes, kiwis, muscadines, passionfruit—and unusual vines like chayote and groundnut.

Half the fun of growing a vine is building the trellis for it to grow. Gardens trellises can come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be highly functional. Trellises make great entranceways, lush fences, and they can spruce up existing structures such as porch posts or bare sections of walls. They add an exciting vertical element to the garden.

4. Garden Features

Plants tend to get the most attention in gardens, and deservedly so, but adding garden features of other varieties can be exciting when the planting is done or the season has passed. Gardens can be quite expressive places this way.

We can make interesting pathways through them or accentuate our garden beds with nice borders. We can add things like garden ponds, insect hotels, bat boxes, birdhouses, and rockeries. We can have functional elements like compost bins and cold frames. Fun new features make for fun in the garden.

5. Leisure Spot

Designing a leisure spot in the garden, whether it is a simple bench or stump to sit on, or an entire patio with an arbor, adds enjoyment to the space. The garden seems a lot more fun when working in it isn’t the only reason to be there.

Making the garden into a leisure space means that we are in more often, which makes maintaining it much easier. It’s nothing to pull a weed here or there as we walk by. We tend to want to because it makes the space more comfortable for lounging.

6. No-Dig Beds

One way to make the garden work more fun is to work less. Conventional gardens rely on tilling, moving around heavy bags of stuff, and attempting lots of back-breaking labor. That’s not necessary. We can build nutrient-rich rich garden beds without digging or turning the soil.

No-dig garden beds are usually built atop the soil rather than being dug into it. We pile up organic material so that as it decomposes it builds rich soil, kind of like making compost. Meanwhile, we can grow our vegetables in it. Check out these design ideas.

Vegetable gardens, in other words, can be much more than just soil and veggies. In fact, it’s a lot more fun when they are. And, the more fun we have in the garden, the more food we are likely to produce in it.

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