Rotating some crops

With my youngest daughter in preschool today — for the first time ever! — I found myself with a bunch of quiet time at home. It’s amazing what garden sounds you can suddenly hear when there is total peace and quiet in the house! I wandered through the garden taking some photographs and doing a bit of this and that.

Before I dive into a gallery of random garden snapshots, I thought I’d just point out a few photos of our crop rotation in action. Here is our garden bed that has been growing a spontaneous patch of tomatoes this summer (with the asparagus behind):

The tomatoes in this bed are starting to look a bit ragged
The tomatoes in this bed were starting to look a bit ragged

And here it is now with the straggly old tomato plants removed, and a couple of new rows of broccoli seedlings along the front:

Broccoli seedlings
Broccoli seedlings where the tomatoes were growing

Autumn is our main season for crop rotation. Many plants get old and sad at the end of our summer, so it is a natural time for the garden bed to be refreshed. We like to switch plants each year so that we avoid growing certain plants twice in the same patch.

Last Spring the tomatoes were a surprise in this bed (many just came up by themselves when we pulled out the strawberries and we let them grow). We’ve also decided to grow some winter potatoes this year (which we don’t usually do). We had to put those potatoes somewhere, and they ended up going into this bed, on the left hand side:

Potatoes buried in trenches
The trenches are where the potatoes are buried.

Potatoes and tomatoes are in the same family and it’s not great to put them one after the other … but there’s only so much you can do in a backyard, with limited space!

The other tomatoes in their “proper” location are still producing okay:

But all those beds are looking pretty tired and worn out! The pumpkins in the left bed are maturing, but looking ratty, and the old broccoli is finished seeding. The climbing beans on the right hand bed are also finished, and it looks time to get them out and replaced with something new. Each of these beds is supposed to rotate one hop to the left each autumn, but we’re still working out the details (after four years!).

“One hop left” means the tomatoes (currently in the middle bed) will grow in the left hand bed for next summer. The pumpkins are already as “left” as they can go, so they will scoot over to the righthand bed next summer, where the beans have been growing this year.

Make sense? It’s a little hard to get your head around. I used to draw pictures with arrows and make plans … now we worry less about where things are “supposed to go”, and aim to plant where we have space coming up, and trying not to plant the same type of crop as previously.

I will write more on how our garden beds are set up (it’s complicated!), but for now we haven’t rotated any other crops. And there is more to see from our garden today! I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. 🙂

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