Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kitchen-garden planning?

I have been so busy the last few week working in the garden, getting my beds ready for this season, organizing what goes where and what to plant I hardly have had time to share with you what I been up to in my endeavor of growing my Kitchen garden.

I am trying to be more organized this year. I know, it will be quite a task.

I want to do more of an organized crop rotation rather then this
haphazardly rotation I normally am doing. Most years I just watch out where I planted my Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, Cabbages, Broccoli and Cauliflower, Squash, Melons and Cucumbers, those I always rotate to a new bed each year, where none of their sisters have been growing. The rest of the smaller vegetables I normally just tuck somewhere, wherever I have a place for it. I have been known to loose a few vegetables because I could not remember where I tucked them in and my label got lost. And all of a sudden I see something shooting up, bolting and go to flower.
'Oh, there it is!' unfortunately it is to late to eat it now.

I have been using my garden software 'IG pro Garden' to get organized. I got all my numbered, raised garden-beds entered in there, all my vegetables, grouped by their Vegetable name and each one designated a rotating group.

group A - Cucumber/Squash Family
group B - Legumes
group C - Solanum (Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Potatoes...)
group D - Roots and Onion
group E - Brassica (Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli...)
group F - Greens and Lettuce

since some vegetables like to grow together, but they are not necessarily in the same family and some even they are in the same family don't like to live with each other, and some can be almost grown with any other vegetable I also added these to different groups.
One example is Radish. Radish really goes along with almost anything and as long the soil drains well, is light and it has water it grows almost anywhere. So I added it to Group A, Group D, and Group F. Lettuce, Arugula, Beets, Carrots, Endive, Chicory, Corn Salad, Onion family are in Group D and F, Kale is also in this group but also in E. Basil, Parsley in Group C and F.
There are others I added to multiple groups which I am not mentioning now.
It makes the rotation a bit more complicated but since I grow such a large variety of vegetables it helps me to spread the crops a bit more around. I came up with this rotation after working through the book 'The Kitchen Garden Grower's Guide The Kitchen Garden Grower's Guide: A practical vegetable and herb garden encyclopedia'. This book is really nice to use if you just need the facts for each vegetables. I used the book to add the most important growing info into my garden software for each vegetable. The book showed which vegetables grow well together and what combination to avoid and the rotation for each plant.
To plan the placements of the vegetables I made a document with my numbered beds, each bed has a square foot garden grid to help visualize the area I have available. I wrote all the names of the vegetables in the proper space on that paper and then made several copies.

The IG Pro garden software lets me input tasks with a date attached. So I can make a task for example called  'indoor seeding' for a specific vegetable, add the varieties to the task and set up a date and when I open my program I open the task program of IG Pro and then I can look either at the task by culture type 'indoor seeding', 'outdoor seeding', 'transplant', 'fertilize' or by date, that needs to be done this month. So far I mainly input the seeding and planting/transplanting tasks for most of my vegetable crops but already it's making a big difference especially in my sucession sowing. I can print out a list with all the vegetables which need care for that month, listing every seeding date I planned or I can select a specific vegetable and then print out an report giving me a choice of all it's succession seeding dates or only the one I choose and also some growing notes for that specific plant.
Now I can print out a seeding and planting report from the  task program of the IG Pro Garden program take it and a copy of the garden bed document with me out to the garden and I know exactly where to plant my seed.
Next year I can see exactly where I had my plants. It will make my rotations much more easy to organize.
Already it is helping me quite a bit with my succession sowing and so far I have been keeping up with starting my plants at the proper dates.
Once I have all  my data input into the program I will be so organized.
If I only now could have a program to keep track of my tools I frequently loose in my large garden.........


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