I’ve been working on a better rotation system in the annual vege garden. It was way too complicated, really, so I simplified, grouped some of the smaller beds together, so now I have a very basic four year rotation as follows:
Brassica & Potatoes
These are in bed #1 this year. It’s a funny trapezoid shape close to the house with big planters on either side full of herbs. One side will be for brassicas and the other for potatoes later in the season.
I bought some broccoli seedlings because my sowing was fail, so I’m just growing two types of broccoli this year (that’s most of what we eat anyway, and I have kale plants in my perennial beds that are growing into their second and third years, so I don’t see a whole lot of point in planting more). There’s an early head variety, and a purple sprouting. I don’t expect them to produce much until spring, but that’ll give us something awesome to look forward to.
I’ll follow the broccoli with dwarf kidney beans when I yank them out in frustration at the white butterflies once they return in summer. Though they were late coming back last year. I encourage paper wasps to nest in my garden, which possibly keeps the population down.
I’ve also chucked a row of rocket in here, because there was lots of space left over, and planted some leftover garlic as well. The wee corner that was free I poked a few egyptian walking onions I had left over.
On the right hand side of the bed, there’s a lingering serrano pepper, a capsicum, and an old eggplant, neither of which seem to want to die just yet. I’ve mulched it heavily with straw and comfrey leaves in preparation for potatoes later on. I was surprised to see the other day that our local plant shop already has seed spuds in stock O.o I won’t be buying mine for months yet. I’m planning to plant Heather, an early variety, which should be ready for Christmas dinner and is a great summer spud, and Ilam Hardy, for winter storage.
Corn, Beans, Squash
Bed #2 in my garden is a funny curve along the edge of the driveway. There’s one lonely parsnip still there that was late germinating last year – I’m waiting for a good hard frost before I pull it out and eat it! There’s still a couple of tomato plants I have yet to pull out, and some nasturtium the frost hasn’t got yet. Other than that I’ve laid down a too-sparse mulch of straw, and a cover/green crop of lupin.
I’ve given up on growing sweetcorn. We just don’t eat enough of it. I will be planting popcorn, though, because that we actually eat. Corn in my garden is a nightmare, to be honest, because of the wind, so I’ll be setting up a complicated support system that would make harvesting fresh corn very difficult, as well. Corn you let dry on the stem, however, will be a breeze. I won’t be able to use my corn as a trellis for my greenbeans, however, which is a bit sad. Perhaps around the edges where I can reach them?
I’ll run some pumpkins underneath the corn, though. I grow two types, a large grey maxima, and a tiny miniature butternut (moshata). I haven’t decided yet which it’ll be. As I grow two types of climbing greenbean, I’ll have space to run the other pumpkin beneath the additional bean trellis.
In this bed will also be a few rows of sunflowers, enough pickling cucumbers to keep us in fridge pickles for the summer (I won’t bother proper pickling them, waterbathing pickles makes them mushy and gross), and no more than two zucchini plants. Oh, and a much bigger crop of dwarf kidney beans than in previous years if I want a decent store of dry beans for next winter!
We’ll see if I can actually fit all of that in…
Tomatoes & Peppers
Bed #3, will actually be two beds, 4ft x 6ft. I don’t know why I think about my garden beds in terms of feet and inches, when my brain works with metres and centimetres, but I do. Perhaps a foot is just an easier unit to handle in the garden.
Anyway. One of these beds is very close to the washing line, so that one I’ll be using for hot peppers, capsicum, and the one determinate variety of tomato I grow. The bed further away (I haven’t built this one yet) will have my indeterminate varieties: my bottling/canning tomatoes, and a few plants of slicing/fresh eating tomatoes, and all the support/trellising they require. I’m a little concerned that this bed won’t actually be large enough to hold the number of plants I require to get us through the winter, again, I’ll just have to wait and see (and perhaps if I take better care of my plants, they’ll produce a lot more!)
There’s still some leftover crops from last year in this section. There’s carrots, which I’ll slowly get through over the winter, and a late sowing of parsnips, and another of beetroot, which I may have to plant around come spring if I haven’t yanked them out and eaten them by then. The bare spots in the bed I’m basically using as a compost/mulch pile over the winter, which will keep weeds down and feed it some ready for spring planting.
Roots & Alliums
Bed #4, again, is two beds (one of which hasn’t been built yet…).
The garlic is in and has sprouted, and I went and bought some red onion seedlings and planted them. I was a bit lax with my sowing, so even though I have seed, I really wanted them growing already. I’ve discovered that spring is too late to plant red onions, because they’re not marvellous keepers and we don’t eat them much over winter.
I’m going to sow some of my brown, longkeeper onions indoors, so they’re ready to plant at the tail end of winter to catch some cold. They can sit in the garden a lot longer and be ready for harvest in autumn. Well, we’ll see how that goes, anyway. I’ve got perennial onions in the garden as backup if it all goes pear shaped.
Carrots and parsnips will be going in as soon as the ground warms up, along with a row of beetroot. I’m thinking about also putting in a row of my egyptian walking onions, because I have so many this year. I have to evaluate how much space I have.
The second bed of this group will be mostly kumara (sweet potato), with a row or two of dill, and maybe, if I can fit them in, some more of the dwarf kidney beans. Again, I have to build the damn thing before spring!
Odds & Sods
Oh! I’ve also got an odds and sods bed. It’s only 2ftx6ft, so not really any good for putting in the rotation, so I plan to use it for bits and bobs, stuff that won’t fit in the other beds, trials of new things… Right now I’ve got some dwarf peas and some direct sown lettuce in it. Oh, and some bulb fennel plants I was given.
So that’s this years rotation! I feel very organised. Now I just have to clean up the shed before the end of winter, or I’ll have no where to start all the seeds I have to sow…
In fact, my next job is working out a sowing plan for the season, so I don’t forget things and have to go buy plants again next year. Sigh.