About Minimal Gardener

Hello & Welcome to Minimal Gardener, where the goal is to help you learn & love edible gardening – the sustainable way.

A homegrown squash cut in half. Photo copyright: Sarah Baker - minimalgardener.com.

On Minimal Gardener I share gardening tips & tutorials on how to build & grow an edible garden in the hope I can inspire others to get back in touch with a seasonally based, sustainable way of eating & growing food.

Primarily, this site is about how to grow clean, delicious food in your own garden, backyard, or allotment, although you’ll still find flowers in the mix – either to attract pollinators or for use as cut or edible flowers.

A selection of homegrown vegetables & flowers. Sarah Baker - minimalgardener.com.

Currently I grow fruit, vegetables & herbs in an allotment near to my home, where I have a bit of a growing obsession with perennial vegetables. I also grow loads of annuals too, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, parsnips, kale, chard, leeks & onions etc. And of course, garlic. I think I’d struggle to get through a year’s cooking without growing bottomless loads of it…

Below you can see the transition of my plot over the course of about 9 months, which I approached with a combination of ‘no-dig’ and permaculture practices. It was a lot of work, but I loved every minute.

A photo of an allotment, showing three different stages - from overgrown to lots of summer produce. Photo copyright: Sarah Baker, Minimal Gardener.

My primary goal on the allotment is to grow food & flowers in a sustainable way & with minimal effort (although gardening always requires some effort, of course!) without the use of chemicals & in harmony with nature.

I don’t stick ‘rigidly’ to one particular gardening type or technique, but I do wholeheartedly subscribe to the principles of permaculture & organic gardening.

What’s A Permaculture Garden?

For me, it’s a sustainable way of growing things – a system of growing food, herbs & flowers in a way that works with nature, not against it. Nutritious seasonal food is produced by growing a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers, which interconnect & complement one another. So instead of neat orderly rows, which can sometimes be a target for certain pests, you might find vegetables sown in more of a companion planting style. This helps the plants support & protect one another.

A photo of a herb spiral, a method of growing herbs inspired by permaculture. Photo copyright: Sarah Baker, Minimal Gardener.

And instead of using artificial fertilisers, soil health is built up naturally by adding mulches, such as manure, home grown compost or leaf mould, which also negates much of the need for digging, which disturbs delicate & vital soil structures.

This is much more in line with how things actually work in nature, in environments such as meadows or forests, where things die back naturally each fall, nourishing the soil for next year’s growth.

Permaculture also actively encourages wildlife habitats – so a garden or allotment employing permaculture techniques might include a wildflower meadow or area of unmowed lawn to attract bees & butterflies & other pollinators.

A pollinator on a dahlia. Photo copyright: Sarah Baker, Minimal Gardener.

A garden that uses the principles of permaculture would also typically use raw food waste to create compost, conserve rainwater for future use, recycle dead plants to make mulches & employ techniques such as keyhole beds or herb spirals. A variety of perennial fruits, vegetables & edible plants would also be encouraged, as these grow back year after year, which means less work.

Ultimately, a permaculture garden becomes self sustaining, with much less input required from the gardener than is required by some modern approaches, where end results are often depleted soil & a reliance on artificial chemicals.

Is Permaculture The Same As Organic Gardening?

A close up of some rainbow chard. Sarah Baker - minimalgardener.com.

I see the two as interchangeable. Permaculture uses organic gardening practices & many organic gardeners use or subscribe to the principles of permaculture.

But whilst the two have crossovers or similarities, permaculture takes things a step further and seeks to create a more holistic lifestyle, ultimately integrating the garden and home to create a lifestyle that’s efficient, sustainable & has less of an impact on the environment.

Meet The Minimal Gardener

Hello. I’m Sarah. I’ve been dabbling on growing my my own food for years, but only recently took it on as a way of life.

After years of living in a seaside city, I recently moved to a more rural area of Sussex with my daughter. Currently, we only have a small courtyard, but somehow, we managed to get hold of an allotment within 3 weeks (it took years where I used to live).

The allotment was perfect – well situated, friendly neighbours, literally at the foot of the South Downs & passed to me from someone who had enjoyed organic gardening. It was quite lovely. In fact, I was so pleased I had, (perhaps unwisely) told the allotment association chair that I used to drool whenever I walked past, peering through the wire fence at the prize cabbages in a slightly Jack Nicolson in The Shining way. She didn’t actually look that surprised.

Anyway, my perfect patch was thoroughly overgrown & many a well meaning person (or 12) told me I had a ‘bit of a job’ on my hands. However, I really didn’t care that it was conjuring up Jackson Pollock more than Michaelangelo. It was mine.

Overgrown or not, it was also a legacy from someone else who had loved it before me. And I think allotments are like that – they get passed from generation to generation and contain years of history, hard work, joy & sometimes, disappointment.

And I planned to use the allotment to kickstart me (and at times watch me limp with my head in my hands silently screaming) on my edible gardening journey & beyond…

Am I A ‘Professional’ Gardener?

Homegrown lavender. Sarah Baker - minimalgardener.com.

No, not at all. I’ve worked in TV production, marketing, built e-learning programs & managed corporate websites, all whilst often dreaming of a way of life that was more in line with the natural world, kitchen gardening & seasonal eating. That changed recently & in tandem with studying for a Royal Horticulture Society Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Plant Growth & Development, (as well as some Permaculture Courses, which are a bit harder to come by), I’m at last building own edible garden.

So come rain or shine, wind, hail or snow (I’ve had them all on the allotment already) & whether you want to build a small cottage garden, take on an overgrown allotment or simply grow kitchen herbs, I hope my gardening journey will help inspire you on yours.

Happy ‘minimal’ gardening….

Sarah x