Fall crops and crop rotations

I planted rutabaga seeds today for a fall crop. I completely blanked on what else I can plant as a fall crop. So I went to the internet. The following is some of the info I found. Also, as I’m planting the fall crop, I’m planting them according to a simple crop rotation to keep my soil and garden healthy. I’ve included sample crop rotations that I’ve found.

Fall Crops

HumeSeeds.com has some good info on fall crops and when to plant. According to them, now (mid-July) is the time to plant beets, carrots, rutabagas, onions, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, fava beans, cabbages, and cauliflowers. They also have a list of crops to plant in August and mid-September.

RareSeeds.com has fall crop suggestions on their home page. Makes it easy for shopping. Just bought some squashes, garlic, spinach, and arugula for my fall crops.:)

Mother Earth News has a great article about planting and growing fall crops. According to them you should start your fall crops indoors (oops!) just like you did with the spring crops to give them not as hot conditions for germination. They also say to provide some shade to protect the young seedlings from the hot sun when they’re in the garden.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is planting families of plants in sequence (each year or season) in the same space to help improve the soil and keep pests and diseases at bay. The crop rotation I’m following is pretty basic: roots->fruits->leaf->legume. But I’ve been reading about more complicated rotation schedules that I might want to try in the future.

Mother Earth News has a great article about crop rotation. One take away from it is the Eliot Coleman rotation:

tomato family->peas->cabbages->sweet corns->potatoes->squashes->root crops->beans.

It makes sense to increase the time between crop families in a rotation, I just don’t have the space right now to implement this.

Using both these ideas, I planted (or will plant):

  • rutabaga where the European Mesclun Mix was
  • beets where the spinach was
  • arugula where the sweet peppers were
  • garlic where the peanuts were
  • onions where the borage is
  • spinach where the carrots were
  • carrots where the mustard was
  • cover crop everywhere else

I love the idea of multiple seasons a year to grow crops.


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gardening Happenings

Not much happening this week. It has been very rainy here, which is good for the plants, but not so good for getting out to harvest.

Mustard seeds sprouting.

Mustard seeds sprouting.

Mustard seedlings

Mustard seedlings

Yesterday, I finished harvesting the mustard seeds and harvested the cilantro/coriander seeds. The mustard and coriander are in paper bags drying in my back hallway (the warmest area of the house). The coriander smelled wonderful as I was putting it in the bag. Really looking forward to using it. Some of the mustard seed pods had started to sprout where they were touching the soil. I placed them at the base of the pea plants (greens after legumes in the rotation) and now there are a bunch of mustard seedlings growing there. I’ll have to thin them out soon.

One of my son’s yellow squash plants was attacked by a squash borer and died. And the squash growing on it was drilled into by some bug. My youngest wasn’t happy about it. Speaking of squash, I sliced up and roasted the yellow squash that I harvested. I roasted it with just salt, pepper, and olive oil. I thought it tasted great… no one else did. My kids took one bite and declared it “yucky”. Oh, well, so much for that theory (that they’d eat the fruit from their plants) and more squash for me.



The sunflowers are starting to flower. I’m loving watching them follow the sun as it moves across the sky. Even the ones that haven’t flowered yet track the sun! My kids think it is cool. Of course, Murphy’s Law strikes, when I went to take a picture this morning this one wasn’t facing the sun.

The sweet potatoes are taking over the whole garden bed and trying to expand out. I keep moving the vines back to within the confines of the blocks. The poor pumpkin is trying hard to compete for space with the invading sweet potatoes.



The cabbages are starting to develop heads. They are quite pretty looking like big flowers.

Ears of corn

Ears of corn

I have a couple ears of corn forming on the corn stalks. I shook the tops together to get them to pollinate the silks of the ears. Hopefully it worked.

Ripening black cherry tomatoes.

Ripening black cherry tomatoes.

My tomatoes are ripening. They are black cherry tomatoes and and supposed to become quite dark, but mine are staying red…not darkening. I’ve been picking them still red and they taste great.

Oh, I forgot to test my soil for nitrogen levels. I need to remember to buy the kit.

That’s all folks!


Categories: mustard, sunflowers, tomatoes, yellow squash | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

We would starve (this is also about growing potatoes)

Today, after harvesting this meager potato crop, I came to the conclusion that my family would starve to death if we were forced to rely on my garden as it is now. I know this is my first year intentionally gardening/producing food, but it is still quite the eye opener for me how little food I’m getting from my garden. But I have plans to improve so hopefully we won’t starve if it ever came down to it.

Whole harvest from Russet potatoes and red potatoes I planted.

This is the whole harvest from the Russet potatoes and red potatoes I planted.

Growing more potatoes

This coming winter I will make potato towers to grow potatoes next summer. Using potato towers is a method of growing potatoes to get higher yields. I hope to build something like in this YouTube video. The idea is to keep adding soil to your potato plant as it grows. The tower contains the soil you keep adding. The plant will produce new roots/potatoes from the buried parts of the stem.

I’ve heard this method doesn’t work with all potato varieties. According to Veggie Gardener.com and Sinfonian’s Garden the best performing potatoes using this method are late season varieties like German Butterball, Butte, Yellow Fin, and Bintje. Veggie Gargener.com also has instructions for building a potato tower.

Expanding the garden to get more produce (so we wouldn’t starve)

In addition to building potato towers, I’m hoping to build a couple more garden beds.

I’m still hoping to make another raised bed next to the raised bed I already have. I already have plans in my head for the new bed. It will be (once I am able to convince my husband to let me take that space for gardening) a U-shaped bed with more than double the growing space than the bed I have.

I’m, also, working on plans to build a garden bed in the front yard for growing food. My front yard gets much more sunlight than my back yard. I’m hoping to have it multi-tiered with ornamental plants in front (closest to the street) shielding the edibles. My plan is to grow pretty edibles, like amaranth, there.

I’m also planning on expanding the berry patch. Adding more raspberries and blackberries.

For now, I’m just glad we aren’t reliant on my gardening efforts for our sustenance… and that there are grocery stores. Hope your gardens are producing more than mine.


Categories: potatoes, raised garden bed | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Garden happenings

This week some harvests are ending and others beginning. The peas and raspberries are pretty much done. I’m only getting one or two bites from them a day now. But now the yellow squash and blackberries are ripening and seed pods are browning.

Harvest from yesterday (not including the squash).

Harvest from yesterday (not including the squash).

Yellow squash.

Yellow squash

Here’s yesterday’s harvest. Not very much. But it was still delicious. The blackberries were juicy, plump, and so sweet. The squash is so nice and golden yellow. I’m going to slice this up and roast it. In the past I’ve been the only one in my family who likes squash. I’m hoping at least one my kids will help me eat this since it belongs to one of them.

Ripe blackblackberries

Ripe blackberries

Ripe blackberries on the bush before I picked them. These tasted so much better than what I buy in the store. I noticed a lot of ripe blackberries in the park during my run this morning. I’m going to take my boys berry picking there either tomorrow or Monday. Oh, I found only one ripe blackberry on my bush today.

Mustard seed pods

Mustard seed pods

I noticed some of the mustard seed pods have turned brown/tan. I cut the stalks to have the whole segments with the brown seed pods and then put them in a paper bag. I have the paper bag hanging with the seed pods inside to dry. From what I’ve read it should take two weeks for them to dry enough to use and store. I saw on another blog, Attainable Sustainable, a simple recipe for making your own mustard. I’m looking forward to making some!

Flax seed pods

Flax seed pods

As with the mustard seeds I noticed some of the flax seed pods have turned brown. I cut the tops (containing only the seed pods) off the stalks and put them in paper bags to hang and dry, too. Mother Earth Living has a good article about harvesting flax for the seeds and fiber. The Joybilee Farm website talks about harvesting flax for use as linen. Life TransPlanet website talks about harvesting it for the seeds. According to all the sites I should pull up the whole plant to dry when harvesting for either seed or fiber. One thing I learned is that if you want the flax for the fiber, you harvest before the seed pods ripen. Otherwise the fibers get too tough for making soft linen. Good to know! I’m going pull up all my flax today since mine are pretty much done flowering and have seeds pods.

Hope you’re gardening efforts are paying off for you!


Categories: blackberries, flax, mustard, yellow squash | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.