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Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

Posted by prairiemoon2 zone 6a/MA (My Page) on
Fri, May 2, 14 at 11:48

Our vegetable beds are about finished and about to start planting this week. I've been vegetable gardening in a smaller space so had limited types of vegetables, and with a space that is almost triple what it was, I plan on growing a lot more. So I'm not used to having to fit all of these together and haven't been able to rotate before. We now have 5 beds.

I've been reading the forum and picked up a lot of information and came up with a plan, but would like to know if I am overlooking something. What will work, what won't work? For instance, not sure I can fit peppers in front of tomato plants in the same bed. And in EW2 bed, some of those plants will be done early summer. Can I utilize the space more efficiently?

I also have read conflicting information about the wisdom of grouping plants by 'families' which may make it easier for pests to find, but at least with the plants that need support, they do need to be grouped together, right?

The melon, squashes in the EW4 Bed, will be in a 4x12 bed that is adjacent to a mulched area that they could overflow onto. I thought that would be better than trellising them and shading the beds behind them.

This would be Year 1 in a four year rotation plan.

Year 1

N/S1 Bed [Vertical Support 4x17]
Pole Beans
Bush Beans

E/W1 Bed [Vertical Support 4x20]

EW/2 Bed [4x12]
^Brussels Sprouts
^Bok Choy

EW/3 Bed [4x12]
>Onion seedlings
>Garlic plants
[Spinach, next year]

EW/4 Bed [4x12]
^Red Lettuce
^Green Lettuce
[Radicchio next year]
*Squash summer and winter

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Fri, May 2, 14 at 12:38

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

That is a very detailed plan and not to be discouraging but while all this planning may be fun to do, practical experience has taught me that plans seldom hold up to actual practice - for planting or for rotation. So worry about next year next year after you learn many things this year.

For example, it is getting awfully late for planting peas in your zone and is still too early for beans and perhaps even cukes so N/S Bed 1 is going to change.

E/W Bed 1 - you do not want to plant asparagus in a bed with anything else. It needs its own bed for many reasons and it is getting late to plant it this year anyway. Tomatoes and peppers are also not planted at the same time. Peppers go in at least 2 weeks after tomatoes. Plus all three have different nutrient and water needs.

That just scratches the surface.

So for now, plant what can be planted as it is growing late for many things on your list. They will do better as fall plantings. See how everything does where it is this year and then you can go from there for next year.

Enjoy your gardens.


RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

Good planning! However, for what amounts to be small gardens, you don't really need to rotate plants. You can replenish the nutrients every year by adding compost and other additives.

The only rotation to do would be in case of disease,
and that is only if there was disease of a certain plant family there. If there wasn't, you can even grow that same plant family in the same area again next year.

One thing to remember about some of your plants is to plant them at 2-3 week intervals, so that they don't all mature at the same time. This way, you get a constant harvest several months later.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

Digdirt, I am sure you are right, that the plan you start out with will be adjusted with experience. So putting aside next year or whether to rotate or not, I’m trying to figure which beds to put which plants.

Yes, I do understand it is late for peas. We’ve been constructing new raised beds and that has delayed planting time. My plan if I were on time would have been that bed with the vertical support having early peas followed by cucumbers with space for bush beans in front. Whether I could get some lettuce or spinach in front of the peas early and get them out before the cukes and bush beans, I’m not sure. I would try to do that next year. This year, I’m on the fence about whether to go ahead and try the peas or just wait a week or two and plant the cucumbers. I haven’t had a lot of success with peas in the fall maybe because of the angle of the sun is lower and I get more shade. The other side of the vertical support would be pole beans with bush beans in front. Thinking I would not try to fill it with a spring crop and have to get it out of the way of the pole beans in time.

I have a long 20ft bed that I have sectioned off 5ft x 4ft for Asparagus, so it will pretty much have it’s own bed and will stay there permanently. I have Asparagus from my old vegetable beds and they are sitting in recycle bins waiting to be replanted. They already have asparagus coming up.

Peppers like the heat, so do you plant by soil temperature? Whether they go in at the same time or not, would you plant tomatoes and peppers in the same bed? If you would not grow peppers in the same bed, what would you grow in the same bed with tomatoes and where would you grow your peppers?

gardenper, I have read that you don’t need to rotate in a small garden, too. I guess I was thinking of being proactive, and preventing a buildup of pests that like certain plants. I do garden organically and that would be the reason I would consider rotating, but….you’ve given me something to think about. Maybe I could grow them in the same beds for a couple of years and only rotate if and when I have a problem. I also like to use cover crops.

Thanks for the reminder to plant in intervals and not end up with 10 heads of cabbage all at once and whose going to eat them all this week. [g]

So, what does everyone else grow together? Does it change every year? Do you have any tips on getting the spring crops in and out before you start the warm weather crops? Don't you plan where you are putting what, every season?

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

"Don't you plan where you are putting what, every season?"

Yes, I do. That is a lot of the fun in the off season. I just figure that out in my head...nothing on paper. I already know by the calendar when they go in.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

My biggest concern is that there are many things on your list that it is too late to plant now unless the weather really gives you a break down the road. Lettuces, onion seedlings, herbs from seed, beets, spinach, garlic (planted in fall), cabbage, broccoli are all in the ground and well along by now in your zone. As the heat arrives they will bolt, fail to head up, etc.

So for this year since you are getting a late start you may want to consider skipping all those. That is what I would do because with such limited space I'd rather focus on more of the proper season crops rather than devoting the space to things that likely won't do well? More peppers, more tomatoes, more beans, cukes, etc.

But if you want to experiment and are okay with knowing upfront that some things will fail this late then go for it. It will be a good learning experience for next year.

So, what does everyone else grow together? Does it change every year? Do you have any tips on getting the spring crops in and out before you start the warm weather crops? Don't you plan where you are putting what, every season?

Ok this is JMO but I don't see multiple small beds to mean they each need multiple interplantings. It isn't an effective use of the bed nor is it best for the vegetables since they have different needs. Rather what works best is when a single bed is devoted to 1 crop, maybe 2 max and they are planted in blocks not rows.

Most of my gardens are large in-ground beds but I do have several smaller raised beds too. Each is 4'x16' and each is devoted to 1-3 crops seasonal crops each year and those crops are rotated from bed to bed the following year.

One bed all early spring- 1/3 lettuces, 1/3 spinach, and 1/3 cabbages.

Another is early spring 1/2 broccoli and 1/2 cauliflower.

Another is all summer - squash.

Another all summer - peppers.

And the fifth is a early spring bed of all onions.

The following year each bed moves over 1 to the next bed. Easy. The spring beds can then become fall garden beds - not summer crop beds - and I can rotate other crops each year through the summer beds if I wish.

I won't waste space on peas as they don't produce enough to justify the space they take up so I never grow them Pole beans will outproduce bush beans and take up 1/2 the space. Tomatoes have their own garden (bed in your case). Asparagus has its own beds - 4 of them that are all at least 10'x20'. You can't grow enough asparagus in 4'x5' to make it worth while IMO so why tie up the space with it.

This is all just stuff to think about but good examples of why detailed planning up front isn't needed. Planting is what needs to be done, notes kept in detail as things progress, expectations kept realistic, some disappointments expected and accepted, and changes and new plans made next year, not now.

Hope this helps.


RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

I plant tomatoes and peppers in the same area, with the peppers behind the tomatoes, spaced so they don't block all the sun. I find that this keeps the peppers from sunscald.

As Dave says, the peppers go in later.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

Dave has given excellent advice (like he always does). What he says is pretty much the exact way I garden in my raised beds. I plant in blocks, rotate from bed to bed, and I don't interplant different things together (for the most part). The beds I use for my spring crops are the same beds I use for fall crops. With the summer crops having their own beds.

Trying to succession plant a spring crop with a summer crop doesn't work too well for the most part. I've tried. The spring crop usually only has about a month to a month and a half to grow before it's warm enough to plant the summer crops. 30-45 days isn't enough time for most things to mature (exceptions being radishes and some leafy greens) and if you wait for them to mature, you are wasting time when the summer crop could have already been planted and growing.

I'm always hesitant to comment on people's garden plans. Everybody gardens differently and what one person's plan looks like would be completely different from another person's plan or from my plan for the same area. So the only thing I'll say about your plan is that the chives, being perennials, should go in their own area outside the vegetable garden. That way they won't be disturbed nor will they be in the way. I happen to find them quite ornamental, especially when they are in bloom. They look good in flower beds (just don't allow them to seed). And garlic is planted in the fall to be harvested in mid-summer so that's something to take into consideration.


RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

You can't grow enough asparagus in 4'x5' to make it worth while IMO so why tie up the space with it.

I don't know about that. Our gus bed is 4x8 and we are swimming in the stuff! (There's only 3 of us, though) I'm making and freezing soup for goodness sakes! LOL Nancy

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

If like me you've got lettuce and brassica seedlings and all that room you might as well plant them. Last month was so cold (20 degrees below normal) and last few weeks have been wet (esp. this week) so it was hard to get the normal spring crops in. Hopefully next year will be better. But with apparently normal May weather (high 60's -70, though I see a few nights in the 30's next week) on its way, plan on harvesting them as baby greens and not waiting until they bolt. Then you can put in the squash and cukes.

I thought about it, but decided to skip peas this spring - will try for a fall crop. Pretty soon the soil should be warm enough for beans. May plant some fava beans now as an experiment.

I don't know if my cilantro is going to come back this year (it reseeded itself last year) since DH was digging in that bed, so I'll throw some seed down and see what happens. Now that the beds have dried out a little today I'm going to seed some dill too - no harm in trying. The oregano overwintered fine.

Tomatoes take a little bit more water than peppers so I don't plant them in the same beds. Plus peppers go in later when the soil's a little warmer, and nights are above 50, so I don't want to be digging around the tomatoes to put them in. But you don't want to rotate them one after the other either (some discussions about that) if you can help it. Potatoes, raspberries, or strawberries either, though usually raspberries and strawberries aren't planted each year (I've got somestrawberries that grew into a veggie bed over the winter that I may leave to see if I get berries this year, then pull them out after harvest and put in a later crop of summer squash, or some broccoli or other fall crop).

The melons and the squash will take more room than you think - might as well devote a whole bed to each. If you have the space, why don't you try pumpkins or winter squash this year?

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

Dave, I know you are right about the spring crop and our track record in New England, in the last 10 years or so, is sometimes a cold spring followed by early heat. So chances are if I insist on putting in the spring crop, I won’t get perfect results. I have a couple of reasons why I want to take the chance on it. One is I started seed quite awhile back and have potted up and I have plants ready to go that are well on their way and can get them in the ground tomorrow. If I don’t use them, I’d just have to toss them, so I may as well try them. I’m hoping this crazy cold winter/spring is going to give me a little more leeway than usual. The second reason is that I have triple the space I had before and I can waste a bed with spring plants and still have enough room to grow the summer crop that I normally would and then some. And with some items, like lettuce, I’ve already been trying to get around the early heat and ordered seed of a variety that is slow to bolt, so now is as good a time to test it out as any. If I didn’t already have a lot of seedlings, I probably would just do more tomatoes and warm season veggies. I’ll still get more than I usually do this year.

I would be planting in blocks not rows. I would think your way of planting is pretty convenient and keeps things simple. Sounds like you have a big garden. I do garden organically and don’t use any fungicides or pesticides so I like to give myself every advantage to prevent problems in the garden, and that’s why I would tend to interplant more and not give pests a big target of a whole bed of the same vegetable. And I like to plant to attract beneficials too.

I like your idea of doing a whole bed with spring crops followed by fall crops and a whole bed with nothing but summer crops. That is something that I’ve struggled with in the past, trying to grow the spring crops in a bed that will be followed by the summer crops and the timing is never good enough. That would solve that problem for me. Now that I have more space, I will be able to do that.

I am on the fence about peas. I like the Sugar Snap and the Snow Peas enough to keep them in the garden and we don’t need a huge amount. There’s only three of us at home and extended family that appreciates a little extra, so it works for us. Ditto with the Asparagus. My husband’s favorite vegetable that I don’t eat. You can’t have a spouse that grows organic vegetables and you don’t get your favorite, can you? [g] We had more than enough last year.

I normally grow only pole beans, but this year I wanted to try a bush bean that I read about, so I’m doing both. I think tomatoes alone in a bed is not a problem. If the bed is 4ft wide and 14ft long, I think I have room for something in there with them. I guess I am an Interplanter by nature. Maybe Basil or Dill, Flowers in the corners, something. :-) I guess I can experiment and try a couple of Peppers and see how that works out.

Thanks, that really did help to think through my choices and why I’m making them. And just that one idea of ‘spring/fall beds & summer only beds’ was very helpful.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

prairiemoon - I think your bet on an extended cool spring may work out this year. I've planted more cool weather spring crops than usual, on that assumption, and I'm planning for fewer summer crops.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

I'm going cross eyed, it's past my bedtime and an early day tomorrow. [g] I'm very interested in the conversations. I'll be back tomorrow. Thanks for all the help! :-)

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

Wayne, I usually spend the off season planning too, but didn’t get a chance to this year. It’s a lot more fun when you have the winter to figure it all out.

Ltilton, do you decide when to put your peppers in by the soil temperature or by the rule of consistent nights above 5o degrees? When do you put your tomatoes in? My garden has afternoon shade so I’m usually trying to get the tomatoes and peppers in more sun. [g] Yes, let’s cross our fingers that we skip the early high temperatures this year, to get some extended spring crop growing weather! :-)

Rodney, I guess I have been in the same boat, trying to plant summer crops in the same bed as spring crops. I haven’t had enough room to use separate beds, but I will be able to now. Sure will make things simpler. And thanks for the tip about the Chives, I’m going to see if I have another place for them. All the other herbs I use in the vegetable plot are annual. Garlic - I had planted cloves in the Fall and had to take my beds apart and dig them up this spring. They’re all in pots at the moment waiting to be planted. Where do you put your garlic?

Nancy, yes, we don’t need much asparagus either and don’t have room for more any way. What kind of soup are you making? I didn’t realize you could freeze asparagus?

Ajsmama, yes, just like you, I’ve got lettuce and brassica seedlings waiting to go in, hopefully today. This has been such a crazy spring. I normally shoot for St Patrick’s day to plant peas, and it’s often later than that due to weather. This year the ground was frozen and I had snow until the end of the first week of April. And then we had a couple of weeks of temperatures overnight in the high 20s, low 30s. So, even if I had my beds ready, not sure I would have had much success growing spring crops. Next year, I hope to have cold frame covers that should help a lot with that.

Yes, we will eat baby greens, they are better that way too. I may have to skip the peas too, still deciding. *sigh*

Where do you plant your cilantro and do you do succession planting with that? I’d like to have a steady supply this year, I keep forgetting.

Thanks for explaining why you don’t put the tomatoes and peppers together, that makes sense.

That is the thing about a small property, growing melons and squashes becomes problematic. I am trying a squash this year, called Butterbush Butternut Squash, that is supposed to be compact, so we’ll see. And the watermelon I am going to try is Sugar Baby. Not sure how far that will travel, I’m trying Costata Romanesca for summer squash this year. I’ll be putting the summer squash in another bed.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

I'm a big believer in soil temps, but I also check the forecasts. Right now, I'm shooting for Tuesday the 6th to put in early tomatoes and beans, based on the forecast, but soil temps will be the determining factor.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

I check soil temp for beans, those usually go in before peppers so I don't bother to check again for peppers. I was just out setting Tom Thumb lettuce (35 days so might get some if May stays cool), threw in some mesclun mix, will put out kale tomorrow AM, spinach doesn't look so good so I might seed some Bloomsdale Longstanding and/or Baby Leaf and see how it does. Also putting in Tendergreen mustard just for salad greens, some marubah santoh (I have tons of seed), again for salad but it it makes it into June I might have some for stir fry.

I just put cilantro (had year old seed from Fedco that needed to be used - didn't do well in 2011) in the north end of my cuke bed 2012, it reseeded last year but I didn't succession plant, though I should to have it at the end of the summer when tomatoes are ripe. I did save seed from last year so can sow now, will hold some back for later, depends on how brutal the heat is this Aug.

I guess you could put peppers on the outside of bed south of tomatoes, assuming you're running drip hose down the middle the edges will stay drier, but another problem (unless the north side is accessible) is that pepper plants are very brittle and brushing past them to prune/pick the tomatoes could end up damaging them. I use those flimsy 3-ring wire cones for peppers (and bush beans) but you can still break branches. My pepper plants have gotten as as big as 3ft wide and 3ft tall so it's hard to squeeze by them. I put them in their own rows, staggered so 2 rows in 1 bed accessible from both sides.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

Since you already have the seedlings then you might as well plant them. I assumed you were talking about planting seeds since that is far more common for those crops.

Just as beans get planted later than tomatoes and have very different nutrient needs, I won't plant tomatoes and peppers together since they not only require different planting times but they also have different water and nutrient needs.

And I agree that soil temps is a much more accurate planting guide than air temps.


RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

I treat garlic as both a spring and fall crop. Since it's harvested and replanted in the same year I allot two separate spots for it. One spot in the spring for the overwintered plants to be harvested in mid-summer and another spot in the fall where I'm going to be planting next year's garlic.

Where I plant a spring crop of something (other than an allium), I plant garlic in the fall. Where garlic has overwintered into spring, once the garlic is harvested I plant a fall crop of something (again, other than an allium). Hopefully this makes sense.


RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

So soil temps are the best indicator for planting. Thanks, Ltilton. I just bought a soil thermometer and haven’t used one before, but it certainly makes decisions about when to plant more precise, I’m sure.

Ajsmama, I imagine it’s either succession planting or collecting seed with the Cilantro, hard to do both, except for the last planting of the season I guess.

Yes, I’ll be running a soaker hose down the middle of the bed. And all sides of my beds are accessible. I use small tomato cages for peppers too. Works great. I see a lot of mention of staggering, sounds like that would help a lot when the garden is mature come August.

Dave, you grow the tomatoes and peppers by themselves in their own beds. I won’t have room for peppers to have their own bed, but I can do that for the tomatoes, the peppers will have to share with something, not sure what yet.

Rodney, I think I follow you. You plant in the fall, then after you harvest them, you plant another fall crop of something else, not related to alliums. And plant garlic in the Fall again in a different location.

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

I was hoping the cilantro would reseed itself last year early enough to get a Sept crop (tomatoes were late anyway), but it didn't so I just collected the seeds. I'm hoping the dill reseeded itself too but I don't know if I want to wait long enough to find out - that bed wasn't turned over, but I did rake the dead stems out this week. The oregano (planted in the middle of some concrete blocks) is starting to spread into the dill bed. I'm going to cut that off and replant them or give them away.

Just be sure wherever you plant the peppers that you won't be brushing by them to tend/harvest anything else and break the branches. They're so brittle that I use a pair of kiddie (blunt) scissors to cut the fruit off, I've broken branches trying to snap a pepper off!

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

I haven't read all the input, but I think what is being said is to grown spring crops in separate beds from warm weather crops.

When the spring weather crop are "done", you can pull those and plant another cool weather crop for fall harvesting.

I have found some good info & recommendations from a fellow square foot gardner's blog... tim's square foot garden! He has a garden blog, a section on vegetable varieties, planting calendar, etc. etc. He has a very systematic way of getting the most of his garden, and although mine is a little different, it is also very similar!

And, of course, you will continue to find a host of (mostly good) advise here on GW.

Good gardening!

Here is a link that might be useful: tim's sfg info

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

Ajsmama, I’ve done that myself, trying to snap off a pepper and use scissors now too. I had to dig out Garlic from my old beds and I just noticed one pot has a lot of Dill reseeded in it. all around the Garlic.

Nugrdnnut, yes, that was a helpful tip about separating the beds with spring/warm weather crops. And thanks for the link. :-)

RE: Please review my planting/rotation plan for errors...

I just wanted to update how my season has been going. Since we got our growing season off to a late start, whatever plans I would have liked to put in place had to be adjusted. So now getting a fall crop in, became problematic because we ended up buying organic soil for three large beds and that soil has not done well. All the beds that had this soil in it have not done well.

Peppers were a big fail in comparison to previous seasons when they've been our best crop. Watermelon and Butternut Squash never grew and were pulled out after a month. The tomato plants have done just okay. There will be a small crop but they didn't put on as much growth as I thought they should. So we already started sowing cover crop in two of the beds, two weeks ago. Waiting for the tomatoes to be finished and hope I will have time to do the same in that bed. Hopefully, next season should be better.

On the other hand the two long beds that had our old vegetable garden soil added, have done really well. I am particularly happy that I restrained myself from pulling plants out that were slow to develop. The transplants I had for broccoli, kale, bok choy, brussels sprouts and cabbage, despite getting such a late start have all done well. And are still growing well. Just harvested Broccoli yesterday.

So, for anyone that might have been following along and wondered how all those late planted spring crops did, they did great! Maybe it was just a different season, but it all worked out. It's actually been great growing weather this year. Hope everyone else is having a great growing season too and thanks for all the help. :-)

Arcadia Broccoli from seed that was supposed to do pretty well in the heat and I guess it did. Could have been larger, but happy to get a crop.

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