Crop Planning For Organic Vegetable Growers
If you’re an organic vegetable grower, then you know how important it is to make sure your vegetables are grown naturally, without any harmful synthetic chemicals or harsh pesticides. However, just because you’re growing with natural methods doesn’t mean that to can’t optimize your garden for the best possible results! In this blog post, we’ll dive in to the basics of crop planning for organic growers so that you can make sure next season’s harvest is bountiful and healthy.
Planning your garden
Crop planning is one of the most important tasks in organic vegetable gardening. The best way to plan your garden is to grow what you like to eat and enjoy, as well as being seasonal and available locally. If you have room for only a small bed or container garden, consider growing salad greens and herbs that can be harvested within 3 months or less.
If you have room for only one crop in a raised bed or large container, choose something that will produce over a longer period of time such as tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers (depending on how much space). In larger gardens with several beds, choose crops that can be planted close together and provide some shade from the hot summer sun because these plants will mature at different times during the growing season.
The structure of the cropping sequence
The structure of the cropping sequence is determined by when you plant seeds. For example, if you have a long-season crop like tomatoes, then your first planting should be made in early spring (April or May), followed by another planting in mid-summer (July).
Grouping crops for success
Grouping crops for success
If you want to grow a small amount of produce, selecting the right plants is important. You’ll want to consider which crops grow well together and which ones don’t. For example, tomatoes can be grown with chard or kale because they all have similar root systems that don’t compete for nutrients. Here are some other examples:
- Peppers and eggplants do well together because the plants are about the same size at maturity and require similar care.
- Carrots, parsnips and radishes are another option if you want to plant all three in your raised bed at once since they can be harvested at different times throughout autumn and winter.
- Tomatoes should not be planted near cabbage due to their conflicting nutrient needs (cabbage takes up potassium while tomatoes need potassium).
Choosing crops for the growing system and climate
The first step in crop planning is to choose crops that grow well in your climate. If you are located in the Pacific Northwest, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a good strawberry yield from plants grown indoors during winter. Similarly, if you live on the east coast and don’t have access to direct sunlight for more than a few hours per day, it would be hard for your tomatoes to produce a profitable harvest.
Choosing crops that grow well together is also important because different plants require different nutrients from the soil and water supply. For example, kale needs lots of nitrogen but not much phosphorus; radishes need lots of phosphorus but not much nitrogen; basil needs both nitrogen and phosphorus—and lots of water! Because they all take up space (and resources), make sure they will all thrive together before deciding which ones belong in your rotation plan.
The third step is choosing what kind of growing system will work best with the climate where you live: greenhouse versus outdoor garden versus cold frame versus hoop house? The answer depends on whether or not there are natural barriers like snowfall or frost risk during certain times of year; how much time can feasibly be devoted between tending plants indoors vs outdoors?
Before you get started, make sure you know that you have the right conditions to grow your chosen vegetables, and plan out when you are going to plant your seeds.
Before you get started, make sure you know that you have the right conditions to grow your chosen vegetables, and plan out when you are going to plant your seeds. The types of plants that grow well in your area will depend on several factors:
- Soil type
- Soil pH
- Soil texture (sand/clay)
- Sunshine hours (varies by latitude)
- Water supply
- Temperature range with respect to soil temperature tolerance for each vegetable being grown (for example, tomatoes prefer hot weather)
In addition to these environmental factors, there are two important considerations for crop planning: air movement and humidity. Air movement helps prevent disease and fungal growth on the leaves of your crops; ideally, there should be cross-ventilation from both sides of the green house or cold frame so that wind can dry wet leaves without drying them directly in sunlight. Humidity is needed if you will be growing plants like cucumbers or melons outdoors because they need high levels of moisture to produce fruit in an appropriate amount of time.
You’ve got the basic tenets of planning a garden in your head, so now it’s time for us to get out there and start applying them! The best thing about gardening is that there are so many options, whether you want an all-out vegetable plot or just some potted plants on your windowsill. As long as you make sure your space can support what you want to grow (and the time of year is right), then you’re good to go. Now, go forth and grow!