Finally, we are at the end of my plans for the future of the garden. It will be such a relief not to have to think about it ever again. I have my notes and can refer to them each autumn and know exactly where I stand. Of course, there will be tweaking and changes going forward, especially when I find out how these summer crops linger in a frost free winter. Unless last winter was a one off and we get hit with a multitude of frosts from April to October!
CROP ROTATION CYCLE THREE
Bed 16: was carrots and root crops – will be garlic
As I discovered in my original ponderings around this whole crop rotation conundrum, my carrots may be problematic for my early garlic. I have toyed with the idea since of moving the seedlings across now while they are small, but they hate being transplanted and at this time of year stopping them frying while they re-establish will require constant attention. Or do I just sow more in the new place now anyway. But then my parsnips will need to be relocated before the early garlic unless – I leave them both there for the moment and make one more attempt at mid-winter garlic once they are gone and worry about this problem next winter. That buys me a couple more months for them to mature and be eaten before the spot is needed. You never know the mid-winter garlic might just work this time. Or I could start the ones to go in the gap into pots… that worked last season when I didn’t have a garden. Hmmm options, options, options.
- Winter: Before April, empty and eat the crops in the bed and re-enrich the soil and plant early garlic and possibly plant normal garlic midwinter in the problem carrot and parsnip spot.
- Spring: Just weed, feed and water until the harvest is ready.
Bed 17: was potato – will be carrots and root crops
I still have half a bed of spuds tucked beneath the soil but only because I didn’t know how I was going to store them. But on my last trip to the supermarket on the weekend, I saw they had brown paper bags for 20 cents to replace the now banned plastic bags, so a bought a load, much to the bemusement of the checkout ladies when I wouldn’t let them pack my groceries into them. So now I can dig up the spuds, clearing the way for carrots.
- Winter: Well – from now, like a carrot fanatic I need to sieve the rows they will be in and revitalise with a meagre handful of blood and bone. And then sow more carrots. For the rest of the bed I can dig over and add compost and other goodies and sow beetroot, fennel and parsnip. I’ll start the beetroot and fennel in my nursery bed where I’ll be able to have a closer control over them and all the other winter seedlings.
- Spring: Come spring I’ll sow a new row of fennel and I’ll continue to succession sow carrots and beetroot.
Bed 18: was beans – will be potatoes
Potatoes normally go in around Sept 16 – 100 days until Christmas for those lovely spuds perfect for the festive table. But I have found I can plant them all year round here. Last year I grew them in containers. So, I think I’ll pop in a few into containers now to keep them going and if it gets cold, I’ll bring them under cover. But for now, the bed has beans. I’m not all that partial to fresh green beans but just found out one of my kids loves them and so I must try better as I’ve sort of denied him all but a taster for the first 13 years of his life. But for the most part the bed is filled with kidney beans and other dried beans that we use a lot in the winter and they are at the point the pods are beginning to turn so it won’t be much longer and then probably a mustard cover crop to sort out the soil in preparation for the spuds – apparently it can help with wireworm, not that I have it but it would be a good practice to get into to keep my spuds safe should they turn up in the future.
- Winter: So, I’ll be sowing and digging in a mustard cover crop for the benefit of my spuds.
- Spring: Then once all the lovely nutrients from the cover crop have rotted down and been incorporated into the soil, I plant my spuds.
Bed 19: was leafy greens – will be beans
In the nursery bed I’ll pop in some more spinach and Asian greens in the hopes of getting to eat them before they bolt and then put them into the current leafy green bed. There is no point moving anything before then as the rainbow beet, the celery and celeriac will go all winter and the beans don’t like soil temperatures colder than 18C so for now things stay the same.
- Winter: Just continue to weed and feed. Hopefully nature will take care of the watering and all we need to do is to eat our fill of lovely leafy greens.
- Spring: At some point there will be a small window where things need to come out in time for the beans and so the bed will get a tickle with compost and other goodies to refresh it for the beans.
Bed 20: was cucumbers – will be leafy greens
I still have cucumbers doing their thing with no signs of stopping, although the gherkins are getting a bit much – there are only so many you can pickle before the larder is full. But while they are still going, I’ll continue to make the most of them and eventually they’ll die of exhaustion and I can prepare the ground for the leafy greens. Probably with a lovely nitrogen rich lupin cover crop.
- Winter: Remove the cucumbers when the time is right and sow lupin.
- Spring: Dig in the lupin with enough time for it to breakdown in the soil for the leafy greens. They don’t need it to be really warm like other summer crops and so can go in sometime in early spring.
Bed 21: was garlic – will be cucumbers
This bed currently has the 4th corn crop and if I have my timings right, I should get a lovely harvest of Painted Mountain Corn before it gets too cold and without any cross pollination from the other corns I’ve grown. I did give the bed a bit of love with compost and some other goodies between the corn and garlic, but it wouldn’t hurt to put a lupin cover crop to rejuvenate the soil for the cucumbers after so many heavy feeding crops.
- Winter: Once the corn is finished sow lupin and dig in before it flowers.
- Spring: Sow cucumbers and gherkins.
And there you have it! But I can’t sit around all day admiring my handy work, I have things to do and seeds to sow and crops to harvest. I don’t expect I’ll be short of things to do this winter.
Come again soon – Autumn starts in a couple of days.
Sarah the Gardener : o)