May 11, 2011

Garden Planting

Now that the raised bed garden is set up, I thought I'd share our plans for planting our organic garden.  We have four raised beds for optimal crop rotation and that means planting certain things in certain beds. 

Here's the scoop on crop rotation straight out of an email from my Grandfather:
"Crop rotation can also break the cycles of pest and disease problems that build up in soils planted repeatedly to the same crop. The idea is to plan your rotation so that no two crops subject to similar diseases follow one another within the disease’s incubation period. The same principle holds for insect pests - crop rotation makes it harder for emerging insects to find their preferred food each spring."

For example - tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplants are all part of the nightshade family and should be kept together.  They attract awful pests and are terrible for the soil.  Meanwhile beans and peas amend the soil and are good companions for carrots, lettuces, and herbs.  Cucumbers, squash and melons have similar needs and do well together, though they take up a lot of space (which is why we are trellising our cucumbers).  Beets, onions & radishes can be planted with any group (though we are skipping them). In our fourth bed, instead of doing broccoli, kale, cabbages, cauliflower, etc. we are doing a flower cutting garden.  Every year each group will shift over one bed so that each raised bed will only see the same group once every 4 years.

Bed 3 - Nightshades: I may have gone overboard with the tomatoes and peppers this year...

Bed 1 - Vines (Cucurbits): The cucumbers are trellised to leave more room for the squash/zucchini and melons.

Bed 2 - Flowers: Everything in this bed is from bulbs and seeds so there's not much to look at yet.

Bed 4 - Beans (Legumes), Herbs & Carrots (Parsleys): The pole beans are trellised on a bean tower.

You may have noticed that the marigolds are planted with the tomatoes and peppers instead of in the flower bed.  They are an excellent companion to nightshades and repel many of those nasty invading pests.  All fruit producing bushes and perennials are being planted elsewhere in the yard so that they don't interfere with crop rotation. 

I mentioned this before, but we mulched the beds with cheap black plastic.  It looks a little unsightly, but the pros outweigh that one con.  The black heats the soil and the plastic isn't water permeable so the moisture inside the beds doesn't evaporate.  The plants are planted in holes in the plastic so when it rains all of the water is directed to the plants instead of to weeds, which are also suppressed.  Once the plants get bigger, the shiny plastic will also be much less apparent.  The rocks on top of the plastic are to keep it from blowing around.

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