Crop Plan & Successive Planting
goes beyond deciding what plants to put where. You also have to record data
about your garden crops so you can measure your successes and failures. You
need a crop rotation plan for optimal garden health. And you need to plan ahead
for second-round planting where possible, to make the best use of your garden
space throughout the long growing season.
a great idea to have a written crop plan in your garden notebook, so that you
can try new things, remember what you did each planting season, and fine-tune
your garden planning so that each year, you do a little better.
include a list with the garden layout sketch of the exact names of the plants
you're planting, how many and where.
might want notes on how you plan to use each crop: sell it? Cook it a certain
way? Give it away? Save seeds? Let this be the "diary" for your garden so that
you can meet your garden goals and be satisfied with how things worked out.
might want to record the number of individual transplants you made, or how many
square feet of garden space you sowed with seed for each variety. Then you can
see how happy you are with the germination rates and eventual harvest.
forget to write down the planting date and final harvest dates for each variety.
Omaha Farmers Market has a good harvest schedule to help you plan:
key factor in a crop plan is to use good crop rotation techniques. It's like
good preventive medicine. To plant something different in the same space next
year is a good idea to foil insect pests and other problems that might become a
real danger to your harvest unless you literally nip it in the bud. The same
pests that literally bug tomatoes might not like corn at all, so they'll move
out of the soil and you'll be home free.
would be too chaotic to just plant different plants in the same spot
willy-nilly, so one idea is to rotate tall plants with each other, and rotate
short plants with each other. So if you plant tomatoes in one part of your
space this year, plant corn, beans or trellised cucumbers there in the
following years. And if you plant low-growing eggplant in a spot one year, next
year put cauliflower, carrots or beets there the next.
rotating crops to get rid of pests, you should rotate other factors about the
plants to let your soil have some variety and some rest. For example, put
carrots in a spot where you grew shallow-rooted plants last year. That way, the
carrots will delve deeper into the soil and it won't get so compacted.
in mind that different plants extract different kinds of nutrition, in
different amounts, from the soil. So it's a good idea to mix up your planting
plan for optimal soil all around.
more important practice to keep in mind when you plan: succession planting. You
want to maximize the use of your space.
cool-season plants that you can harvest early in the growing season can be
planted again late in the growing season, for a second round of goodies. Examples:
spinach, radicchio and Chinese cabbage. They would wilt in the hottest part of
the summer, but wait just a while and try them again in July for a fall
you time the maturity of neighboring plants, you can maximize your space. Plant
lettuce and kale next to each other, for example, and by the time you've
harvested all the lettuce, the kale is just getting ready to spread out and can
use all the space.
about how you are going to use certain crops, too. If you have a root cellar or
a way to store carrots and beets, you may not want to plant them until late
summer, if there's time for harvest before frost.
smart succession planting, you have to consult the back of your seed packets or
your garden books to record the number of days between germination and harvest.
That way, you can make your garden space as productive as possible without
wasting time and effort.