A good rotation spaces pest susceptible crops at intervals the will hinder the buildup of pests in the field.Rotations can also be used to control weeds. “Cleaning crops” such as potatoes, pumpkins and winter squash eradicate problem weeds through hilling or the extensive crop cover. Herbicides may be used in some crops to control weeds that are problematic to other crops in which the herbicide is not registered. Some crops are more efficient at using less soluble forms of plant nutrients. Less-evolved crops such as cabbage are more efficient at doing this than highly developed crops like lettuce and cucumbers. The variety in rooting depths and the extent of the root system will improve and maintain good soil structure. Sweet corn and squash require deep cultivation and a high level of soil organic matter. Beans and peas are legumes capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere, so they will not need additional fertilizer but still require deep cultivation. Root crops such as radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, and rutabagas also require deep cultivation for proper root development, but the addition of manure and too much organic matter will cause the roots to become disfigured. And cabbage and other cole crops require a firm soil with an alkaline pH to avoid succumbing to clubroot.Also, try to plan the rotation so that successive crops benefit from their predecessor. For example, sweet corn is a heavy feeder so it’s best to plant sweet corn in an area where peas or beans were the previous year because these crops add nitrogen to the soil. Potatoes and vine crops are easy to weed and will “clean” the soil, thereby reducing weed problems in subsequent onion and root crops that are not easily weeded and have a small canopy to shade out weeds.
Vegetable Gardening Overview
Karen Delahaut, original author Mike Maddox, updates Vegetable Gardening Overview
Madison, WI West Madison Agriculture Research Station
Janesville, WI Rock County Farm / Community Garden
Proximity to trees Light Soil Site Selection Access Topography
Proximity to Trees Trees and shrubs may compete for the same resources as your garden: light, water, and nutrients. Walnut trees may prove extra harmful due to juglone production.
Light Necessary for photosynthesis 6+ hours for most vegetable crops Photoperiod Flower initiation Bulbing & tuber formation
Light Short day plants Sweet potato forms tubers as days grow shorter
Light Long day plants- flower when light exceeds a certain number of hours. Lettuce, spinach, radish Some onions form bulbs with long days Most N. varieties
Light Day neutral plants- flowers not related to light Cucumber, peas, beans, peppers
Light Too much light Sunscald Defoliation exposing fruit to hot sun
Soil Well drained soils are necessary Be able to work down to 6 or 7 inches Best to till in the fall Saves soil structure Ground is ready to plant in spring Remove large stones, clods, plant debris Particularly important with root crops
Soil Remove grass/ weeds for new gardens Amending soil Add 2 to 4 inches compost or OM Cover crops / green manures Raised beds / containers If soil isn’t conducive for garden
Soil Soil test Best done in fall Repeat every 3 years Sample 6-7 inches deep in 5+ areas of garden Soil pH (6.0 to 6.8) Phosphorus Potassium Organic matter (OM)
Soil Benefits of adding organic matter Improves water retention / soil structure Increases soil fertility Increases Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) Ability to hold nutrients Reduces fertilization requirements Enhances microbial activity Pathogen suppression Accelerates breakdown of pesticides and other synthetic compounds
Cool season seeds may have heat-induced dormancy
Cool & Warm Season Crops Plants with a long growing season can be started indoors and then transplanted outdoors when the weather is conducive for their growth. Pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant Transplants of cool season plants can be planted early in the spring and are tolerant to the colder temperatures. Cole crops
Season Extension Black landscape fabric is used to warm the soil in the spring. Tomatoes are planted through the fabric.
Season Extension Walls-o-Water can be used in the early spring to protect warm-season transplants.
Timing Succession planting Make the most of our short growing season! Days to harvest important Plant late season crops after early season crops are harvested Multiple plantings of a single crop Multiple cultivars with different days to maturity
Timing Early Season Crops Long Season Crops Late Season Crops Early Beets Early Cabbage Lettuce Onion Sets Peas Radishes Early Spinach Mustard Turnips Beans Cabbage Celery Sweet Corn Cucumbers Eggplant Muskmelons Peppers Potatoes Pumpkin Squash Swiss Chard Tomatoes Watermelon Bush Beans Beets Broccoli Chinese Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Kale Kohlrabi Lettuce Radishes Spinach Turnips
Transplants vs Direct Seeding Transplant Direct Seed
Transplants vs Direct Seeding Transplant Direct Seed Necessary for long season and some cool season crops Basil, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, collards, eggplant, endive, escarole, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mustard, okra, onions, parsley, peppers, tomatoes Useful for crops that do not transplant well and crops that will mature within the growing season Beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, micro greens, muskmelons, okra, parsnips, peas, pumpkins, radishes, rutabaga, salsify, squash, turnips, watermelon
Transplanting Transplant on cloudy days to minimize sun scald. Water well after transplanting. Plant at the same depth as in the pot. (exception: tomatoes)
Direct Seeding Space seeds as recommended on the packet. Dense planting will promote disease. Small-seeded crops will need thinning:CarrotsRadishesBeetsLettuce
Crop Rotation Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are all members of the solanaceous family. Beans and peas are legumes. Cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and squash are all cucurbits. Radishes, rutabagas, and turnips are all cole crops just like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives are alliums. Crop rotations of at least 4 years are recommended.
Crop Rotation Insect & disease management Weed management Nutrient demands Increased soil nitrogen Benefits of the preceding crops Improved physical condition of the soil Increased microbial activity Increased release of CO2 Excretion of beneficial substances
Crop Rotation Group crops according to which diseases they are susceptible to Alternate root vegetables and vegetables with shallow roots: this will improve the soil structure If you use interplanting (planting different vegetables together in the same bed), use the main crop in your rotation plan Remember tomatoes and potatoes are both members of the nightshade family: don’t plant one to follow the other Plant brassicas and leafy greens to follow legumes: they like the added nitrogen Beware of planting carrots or beetroot in direct succession to a legume
Watering Matching water application to plant needs. Based on Soil type Rainfall Crop requirements Growth stage Experience and soil examination are best measures. Rain gauge Don’t base watering on crop appearance.
Watering Vegetables may need 1 to 2 inches per week, depending on the weather. Overhead watering may promote diseases.
Mulching Mulching with an organic material can suppress weeds and conserve moisture in the garden.