Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's Crop Rotation Time! Do You Have Room?

    August is a confusing time for many California gardeners. The tomatoes, peppers, beans, melons, etc. are just reaching their harvesting peak. And yet, August is the best time for starting the winter vegetable garden! 

     Among the vegetable seeds that can be sown during August and September here in California's Central Valley: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, endive, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, head lettuce, mustard, onion seed, white potatoes, radish, rutabaga and brussels sprouts. In September, many of those same crops can be planted in the garden from transplants from the nursery, including leaf lettuce (leaf lettuce seed goes dormant in warm soil this time of year).

     The problem is, where are you going to plant them?

     With a crop rotation plan, the problem is solved. By having a series of garden planting areas, one or more areas can lay dormant (fallow) from late spring through mid-summer. Then, in August-September, you'll have the room for the winter veggies, while still harvesting your summer bounty from the other beds. For best results, any fallow bed, including any bare beds in the winter, should have a cover crop or compost, to replenish the soil with nutrients.
Rotate Crops Clockwise
      
     Another advantage of having a series of garden beds in the same area: each crop can be irrigated according to its specific needs. For example, as onions and garlic mature in May, watering should be reduced. But that is also the time that summer crops such as tomato and pepper plants need regular watering. An automatic irrigation system, such as battery operated timers that attach to outdoor water faucets, can customize the amount of water for each bed. In the circular garden, the water faucets can be centrally located in the middle for ease of operation.


     Why rotate your backyard garden crops? Many of the plants that are in the same "family group" have diseases in common. Many of these diseases are difficult, or impossible, to control using chemicals. The best solution for disease control is crop rotation. 


     Also, choose resistant varieties of vegetables to help thwart diseases. For example, tomatoes with a "V" "F" and/or "N" after their names indicates resistance to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt and nematodes. 


     For crops with no resistant varieties, choose those varieties that are meant to grow in the area you live. And, it helps to spread an inch or two of compost over all your garden beds before you plant each year.




CROP ROTATION FOR THE HOME GARDEN
YEAR 1
BED 1
BED 2
BED 3
BED 4
BED 5
BED 6
Spread compost.
Plant a cover crop.
Tomato
Pepper
Okra
Potato
Eggplant
Onions
Garlic
Beets
Carrots
Peas
Beans
Squash
Pumpkins
Melons
Cucumbers
Corn
Cabbage, Lettuce
Spinach, Radish
Turnip, Broccoli,
Brussels sprouts
Kale, Cauliflower,
Mustard
YEAR 2
BED 1
BED 2
BED 3
BED 4
BED 5
BED 6
Cabbage, Lettuce
Spinach, Radish
Turnip, Broccoli,
Brussels sprouts
Kale, Cauliflower,
Mustard
Spread compost.
Plant a cover crop.
Tomato
Pepper
Okra
Potato
Eggplant
Onions
Garlic
Beets
Carrots
Peas
Beans
Squash
Pumpkins
Melons
Cucumbers
Corn
YEAR 3
BED 1
BED 2
BED 3
BED 4
BED 5
BED 6
Squash
Pumpkins
Melons
Cucumbers
Corn
Cabbage, Lettuce
Spinach, Radish
Turnip, Broccoli,
Brussels sprouts
Kale, Cauliflower,
Mustard
Spread compost.
Plant a cover crop.
Tomato
Pepper
Okra
Potato
Eggplant
Onions
Garlic
Beets
Carrots
Peas
Beans


YEAR 4
BED 1
BED 2
BED 3
BED 4
BED 5
BED 6
Peas
Beans
Squash
Pumpkins
Melons
Cucumbers
Corn
Cabbage, Lettuce
Spinach, Radish
Turnip, Broccoli,
Brussels sprouts
Kale, Cauliflower,
Mustard
Spread compost.
Plant a cover crop.
Tomato
Pepper
Okra
Potato
Eggplant
Onions
Garlic
Beets
Carrots

YEAR 5
BED 1
BED 2
BED 3
BED 4
BED 5
BED 6
Onions
Garlic
Beets
Carrots
Peas
Beans
Squash
Pumpkins
Melons
Cucumbers
Corn
Cabbage, Lettuce
Spinach, Radish
Turnip, Broccoli,
Brussels sprouts
Kale, Cauliflower,
Mustard
Spread compost.
Plant a cover crop.
Tomato
Pepper
Okra
Potato
Eggplant

YEAR 6
BED 1
BED 2
BED 3
BED 4
BED 5
BED 6
Tomato
Pepper
Okra
Potato
Eggplant
Onions
Garlic
Beets
Carrots
Peas
Beans
Squash
Pumpkins
Melons
Cucumbers
Corn
Cabbage, Lettuce
Spinach, Radish
Turnip, Broccoli,
Brussels sprouts
Kale, Cauliflower,
Mustard
Spread compost.
Plant a cover crop.

ANNUAL COVER CROPS FOR CALIFORNIA
Warm Weather: Buckwheat, cowpeas, soybeans, black eye peas.
Cool Weather: bell or fava beans, winter peas, vetch, clover.


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