17 February 2013, by gj
Learning to follow one crop with another is not as daunting a task as it might seem at first.
There are only two main things you need to know:
1. How long from planting until the harvest is done.
2. Who is related to whom.
It’s all about timing and rotating crops. Here is an example from our Pennsylvania garden, zone 5/6:
In mid- spring potatoes are planted in a 4 ft. by 4 ft. bed. They take about 3 months to grow their biggest and are ready to pull at the end of July to mid-August, depending on the weather. Over the course of the season compost is added to the bed to help them stay below soil level and thrive.
Beets take only 6-8 weeks to grow, and turnips about the same. Neither are related to potatoes so won’t be affected if there are any potential disease or bugs lurking in the bed. Both can take some frost, and most likely will need to. Out come the potatoes and in the beet and turnip seeds go.
Towards the end of September to mid-October the turnips and beets are harvested. Yum! The bed is then revitalized with some nice homemade compost and ready for the garlic cloves to be planted. Garlic loves to be overwintered in the garden, and is usually ready to harvest the end of the following July. Well worth the wait as far as garlic lovers see it.
Here we are again at the end of July- so what to plant next? Consider some parsnips or scorzonera (black salsify). Both do better if they get some frost, and they’ll keep that bed working through the winter. Harvest in the spring about the same time the rest of the garden is going in. Don’t forget to give them some of that compost as well.
Two years have gone by- how time flies! Consider a short season crop next, say lettuce or spinach. Keep in mind none of these crops that follow another are related, so you’re rotating crops in the finest of style. Now, lettuce and spinach will bolt when the temperatures get too hot, leaving the bed open once again. Hmm.
Plant a long season carrot and some kale. Both can go well into the winter, at times kale will survive the winter entirely. Carrots will need a little help in the form of mulching, but still can be harvested at the very least into January.
In March you can plant the peas.
Now look what you have done- you’ve kept that bed growing with little interruption for 3 years, with no special equipment needed; and now you can start all over.
Good for you- you’re the gardener!
Give yourself a pat on the back- just remember to wash your hands first.