Let the Garden Begin!

February 8, 2016

Here in Vermont the ground, despite the low snow year, is still white and frozen. BUT already seeds are germinating in the basement under lights (more about that in a future post) and it's time to complete the garden plans. The planning starts in the fall, at least roughed out, since one of our crops is garlic  planted mid-October. Though tags mark the rows, it's a good idea to keep a paper record too!


Do you make a written plan or drawing for your vegetable garden? After these many years, with one year rolling into another, I cannot recall where each variety grew, let alone remember back over time to keep the desired crop rotation!


We have been using a crop rotation schedule adapted from the one outlined by Eliot Coleman in his book, The New Organic Grower. See his website for more information: www.fourseasonfarm.com.  For various reasons, including nutrient use and the prevelence of weeds, he sets this schedule (reads down as to what follows what):

  • curcubits (vine crops)

  • potatoes

  • corn

  • brassica (mustard family)

  • peas

  • tomatoes

  • beans

  • roots

Adapted to seperate the garlic/onion from the other roots since its such a large section and combining peas/beans (although we grow a large number of peas, we don't need but a little more for pole beans), here is the crop rotation we use:

  • curcubits

  • garlic/onion

  • pototoes

  • peas/beans

  • corn

  • brassica

  • tomatoes

  • roots

This has worked well for us with corn, a heavy nutrient user, following the peas and beans (nitrogen fixers). It also works to have the roots followed by curcubits since they are generally weed low to recover from the roots that can be weed high! The garlic and onion are mulched so if we can get control of weeds during the curcubit cycle, it stays relatively weed free all the way back to the roots again. A Note: the tomato stage can be called "nightshade" but we grow our eggplant and peppers in a raised bed (doesn't move!) so that rotation is always just tomatoes.


In the file, I have garden plans for Garden I back to 1990, the first garden on site. Garden II started much later in 2013. Until this year, I drew on graph or even regular paper and somewhere over time I made a master that I was able to copy or scan, thus saving the work of the outline and the permanent sections of asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, and the raised bed. This winter I had time to experiment with the software Print Shop for Mac by Kiev (a scaled down, look-alike to Photo Shop) and found that I could make my master in there. Makes it really nice for changing things! For all the rest, just a simple pencil and scale. The plan looks very nice going into planting - if I can just keep from making changes while planting!!!!

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