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Posts Tagged ‘Garden Planning’

  1. Succession Planting Vegetables

    July 28, 2013 by Jocelyn Baker

    Summers like this make gardening difficult for those with already short growing seasons. The weather was so cold that many plantings were delayed by a few weeks. In order to get a bigger harvest from my vegetable garden, I will be succession planting as much as possible!

    Succession planting is when a gardener plants crops in varying cycles throughout the growing season in order to maximize their harvest. It really only works with specific crops, and is dependent on how long your growing season is. Since I’m in frosty Minnesota, I’m succession planting beans, peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, beets, and radishes. Since these are all pretty quick to go from seed to harvest, I should be able to get quite a bit of extra food from my garden!

    I’ve put together this short guide to help other gardeners make the most of their growing time.

    Succession Planting

    Getting Started with Succession Planting

    Find out when you first average frost date is in the fall. You’ll need this to correctly time your plantings. Next, calculate what vegetables you still have time left to plant. For those in my general area, the University of MN Extension office has a great resource on succession planting, which includes a list of vegetables with their times to harvest. I would highly recommend using this if you’re in Minnesota.

    Once you know your average first frost date, you can start counting backwards from that date to see when you should plant your late season crops depending on how long they take to mature. I recommend giving yourself an extra week of buffer time though, just in case!

    Choose Your Plants

    If you’re just starting out with succession planting, I recommend trying it first with very fast growers like radishes, lettuce, spinach, or beans. Keep in mind that the cooler it is when they are planted, the longer they will take to reach maturity.

    Here’s a quick list to give you an idea of average growth times:

    • Kale – 45 to 70 days
    • Radishes – 25 to 40 days
    • Lettuce – 50 to 80 days
    • Spinach – 35 to 45 days
    • Bush Beans – 45 to 65 days
    • Basil – 30 to 60 days

    I’ve also included a list of helpful links for those in other locations around the US at the bottom of this post.

    Getting Dirty

    Once you know what you’re planting, you will need to make room for your new crops. I did this today, by pulling up my first batch of peas to make room for my quickly growing cantaloupe plants. I will probably plant more peas in a few weeks, once I’ve made room by harvesting several heads of cabbage.

    Once you have your space cleared, make sure that the area is cleaned up and free of weeds. Once the weather starts to cool down, you can use floating row cover or cloches to cover your plants and prolong their growing time. Certain plants will be fine in below freezing temps, such as kale and cabbage, which are hardy down to about 20 degrees. Others will be killed by frost, so you may have to cover them overnight in late fall.

    References For Other Areas

    Thanks for reading folks! Happy gardening, and see you next time.


  2. Organic Gardening #6 – Layout and Planting

    May 27, 2013 by Jocelyn

    Generally, Memorial Day weekend has been the time I’ve used to get my garden started. It’s normally warm enough for me to plant all of my veggies, but not this year! Our growing season is currently about 2-4 weeks behind schedule, and the only things I have in my garden so far are cabbage, beets, peas, spinach, and onions. I was hoping that by now I would at least have a few good garden planting progress photos for you, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be!

    The temperatures have been cooler than normal, averaging highs in the mid-forties over the past week or so, and it has been windy as heck! Yuck. I had my tomato plants outside yesterday for a couple hours, and they looked pretty sad after just a few hours.

    For now, most of my garden is covered in black plastic so the soil will warm up more quickly. I’ve designed a layout plan for my garden, taking crop rotation and companion planting into account, which you can see below.

    Garden Design

    Read my Companion Planting post if you’d like more details about plant placement!

    So, once it’s actually warm enough to plant, it’s going to be a frantic rush to get everything done.

    My Planting Process:

    • Remove the layer of plastic, and pull any remaining weeds.
    • Then add a layer of compost, and work it into the soil.
    • Before planting anything I set all of my pots on the dirt where I’m intending to plant them to see if everything fits the way I’d like.
    • At this point, I will likely lay down the soaker hose I purchased this year, then just plant around that.
    • And last but not least, plant all the things!!

    Hopefully I will be updating you all soon with news of warmer weather and some great photos of my plants in the garden!

    Thank you to all of our  service men and women; Happy Memorial Day.  Thanks for reading!


  3. Organic Gardening: Part 2 – Garden Planning

    March 18, 2013 by Jocelyn

    This is Part 2 of my Organic Gardening Series, Garden Planning.

    I’ve included a link to my garden plan, as well as a nifty seed starting timeline for folks in my hardiness zone!

    Today I’ll go over my earliest phases of garden planning, which I do before I even start my seeds. The level of planning that you do can vary, but after a few years of winging it, I’ve decided to try planning things out a bit more.

    I’ve got my seeds, and I’ll be ready to start some of them this week. As you can see, I have a good mix of flowers, fruits and veggies. Now that I’m going to be getting a CSA share, I’m planting fewer fruits and veggies, but more flowers.

    Heirloom Seeds

    It’s always difficult to get an exact estimate of how many seeds to start. Last year I went a little crazy with seed starting, and my seedlings did really well; there were a LOT of extra plants. I crammed more transplants into my garden than I had planned for, and even then, I still had leftovers. But after the flood, many of my community garden friends needed to replace some of their tomatoes and other vegetables, so I was able to give all of my extras away.

    Garden Planning 101: Things to consider:

    • How much food do you have space for? Not just in your garden, but in your home as well.
    • How many people are you trying to feed?
    • What will you eat or use the most (try to be realistic).


    Space
    First, you should calculate the square footage of your garden. I have 175 square feet of garden space. Then I like to get an idea of how much will fit into my garden. If you’re like me, and tend to plant things fairly close together, you could refer to a Square Foot Gardening resource. You can also choose to focus on a few important plants, and give them lots of room to grow.

    Next, take a quick survey of your pantry and/or freezer at home. If you have a lot of space, and aren’t afraid to jump into a canning, dehydrating, or freezing project, then by all means- plant as much as you can! If you’re like me, and have a limited amount of space and experience with canning, then you need to put a bit more thought into your plan.

    People
    Second, think about how many people you will be feeding with your garden. Also, what do they like to eat?  If only one person really likes beets, it’s probably not a good idea to plant a lot of them.

    Reality Check
    Lastly, be realistic. Think about the vegetables you want to plant, and how much of each you’re likely to use. I like to try out new and interesting vegetables, but if it’s your first time growing something it’s probably best to only plant a few. Remember that harvest time is usually pretty busy, and you will likely have a huge amount of veggies to put up all around the same time (this is especially true in Minnesota where we have such a short growing season). I grew Quinoa last year, and I was really excited about it at first. Then I didn’t have time for threshing and winnowing the grain.  Oops.

    My Plan
    I used the Mother Earth News Garden Planner to get an idea of how much I can fit into my garden. It’s a great piece of software, and anyone can sign up for a free 30 day trial. Here’s my plan, complete with a list of my vegetables and a handy timeline for when to start, transplant, and harvest each thing! Awesome, right?

    Keep in mind, this is NOT my final garden plan. I still have to take companion planting and crop rotation into account. I will probably do this in a few weeks, once it’s closer to the time I will be starting to plant cool weather crops in my garden.

    Most cold climate gardeners are gearing up to start their seeds, so I’ve attached a handy Seed Starting Timeline that I created for anyone living in between zones 3b to 4b. The dates were calculated using an average last frost date around May 31st.

    Free Printable Seed Starting Guide

    Free Printable Guide for Seed Starting

    We’ll get down to the nitty gritty of seed starting next time! I recommend reading some of my previous posts to get ready! You can order your seeds if you haven’t done so already, and find some quality seed starting soil. Both are very important to having healthy seedlings to put in your garden!

    Thanks for reading, and see you next time!