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Salad Garden

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Salad Garden

Post  chad on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 5:32 pm

I have a traditional garden that I grow peas, beans, squash, etc. I just made a new SFG right by the kitchen that I want to use as a fresh salad garden. My questions is about crop rotation. Since most of the salads are in the same family how can I manage crop rotation? Here is what we are planting: Lettuce, spinach, chard, broccoli, cabbage, multiplying onions, carrots, banana peppers, jalapeño peppers, cayenne peppers, grape tomatoes. I understand the need to plant some lettuce no and plant every couple of weeks.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  elliephant on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 5:44 pm

Well, my first thought is that down in Beaumont you're not going to be growing most of those things more than one rotation before the heat hits, right? Then plant summer stuff in their place and back to lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and such in the fall? I like bush beans for that...put back in the nitrogen that the leafy greens take out.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  chad on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 6:10 pm

Well, I am trying to figure out how to keep it a sustainable salad only garden for most of the year. I just don't know how to pull it off? I will have several hundred feet of beans and peas in the big garden. My neighbor plants chard and says it is very summer hardy for leafy greens.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  Furbalsmom on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 6:16 pm

Chad,

Nice to meet you.

Elliephant made a good point there about your lettuce, broccoli and cabbage being early, cool season crops for you. By planting cool, then warm, then cool weather crops, you will get your rotation without having to think too much about it.
My swiss chard did well all summer, but I live in an area that rarely (read maybe one day each summer) reaches 86 degrees.
If you can shade a portion of your SFG and keep it well hydrated, you may extend your lettuce season a bit, especially if you find slo-bolt varieties, but from what other Texas gardeners have said, it will be difficult to keep them going thru the summer.

Again, Welcome. Ask questions as you have them, keep us updated on the progress of your garden, and don't forget, we love pictures.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  elliephant on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 7:03 pm

Embarassed Oh, yeah, I saw that that about all the beans and peas you have planted elsewhere. Laughing

Chard will probably be ok. I also think you can just keep harvesting from it, without rotating. Spinach...well, there's a thread right now from someone in AZ who already had their spinach bolt. Have you heard of Malabar Spinach? That's something I'm trying this year that sounds like it might help you get through the summer with greens. Still doesn't answer your rotating questions, but it doesn't really need rotating as it can just be grown as a perennial.

The broccoli heads will start to flower anytime the temps head toward the 90s...we had a heatwave up to 96 already last month and I had to harvest a couple of heads really small because of that. I haven't grown cabbage, but I *think* that's a cool weather crop. Hopefully someone else can chime in on that one.

I don't know that much about rotation, but I do know about the heat. I'm trying several varieties of lettuce this spring to see what lasts the longest in the heat without getting bitter or bolting. My Black Seeded Simpson already got bitter.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  jerzyjen on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 7:14 pm

I could be off here (only 2 years under my belt) but my understanding is that crop rotation isn't as critical because of using the 5 types of compost, and adding a trowel full of new compost when replanting a square. I keep changing my boxes (for aestetic purposes) so I'm mixing the soil up all over the place so I'm not speaking necessarily from experience, just my understanding of the concept.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, cause my plan for my table tops is to pretty much use them exclusively for greens. If this will be a failure in the future I'd like a heads up.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  Megan on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 7:53 pm

Welcome, Chad, to the forum and to SFG! glad you\'re here

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like your list of salad items is more what you want to actually put IN the salad, rather than what many people would typically refer to as salad greens. There is a big difference there. Lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage are typically cool weather crops. Peppers and tomatoes are hot weather crops. Carrots and onions are long-term crops. Rotating crops regarding soil usage is probably not so important for this box as rotating for crop succession...planting one thing to take over, after another is done.

@Furbalsmom wrote:My swiss chard did well all summer, but I live in an area that rarely (read maybe one day each summer) reaches 86 degrees.

We get much hotter here, and my chard was still going strong all through summer and into the end of September when I had to tear everything out. I daresay it might have survived a light frost or two, especially with a cover.

I kept my lettuce growing quite a while...I was playing the cut'n'come again game. (Some lettuces are heading lettuce, but I haven't tried to grow those yet.) It kept trying to bolt and I would pinch off the bud stems. Eventually it started to get bitter, but it lasted much longer than I expected it to. I was growing a mesclun mix from a big box store and was very happy with it, but I hope to experiment with some other varieties this year to see what happens.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  chad on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 10:11 pm

Correct Megan, this is a salad fixin's garden if you will. I was thinking of lettuce and spinach for cooler weather salads and growing chard when it warms up.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  Megan on Tue 08 Mar 2011, 10:21 pm

That makes perfect sense. Smile I would sort out your plants by the ones that can go all year, first, vs. the ones that grown only early or late... and then consider rotation, if you feel you need to. Mel recommends just adding a scoop of compost and moving on! Hopefully someone can correct me here if I am wrong, but I'm pretty sure the big rotation issues are ones like potatoes, and those are not among the plants you've listed.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  Kabaju42 on Wed 09 Mar 2011, 12:21 am

Actually I recently heard that the plant rotation only really works with the large farms. Even with the regular home garden you don't have enough space to be able to make crop rotation work. When you harvest your plants then just mix a scoop of compost into the square like Megan said and you should be fine.

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Re: Salad Garden

Post  Megan on Wed 09 Mar 2011, 7:36 am

@Kabaju42 wrote:Actually I recently heard that the plant rotation only really works with the large farms. Even with the regular home garden you don't have enough space to be able to make crop rotation work.

I don't "know" as a proven fact that that's true, but I certainly do believe in it.

Exceptions that I'm aware of:
- Potatoes, where you should rotate, if possible, due to blight concern. My tentative plan is to build a permanent potato box, but completely replace the planting medium each year and spread the used on other beds.
- Peas, where you may need to use innoculant in the new planting location. (My peas did poorly last year, and I think it's at least partly because I forgot about the innoculant.)
- I'd like to try to rotate any really heavy feeders, where feasible. I don't think rotation in a SFG will provide any protection against pests, but it does make sense to me to try to spread the nutrients around, even though I'll be adding that scoop of compost. (I say this because I will, hopefully, have a number of boxes, and can move plants around. With only one or two beds, it's not so workable.)

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Welcome

Post  ander217 on Wed 09 Mar 2011, 8:16 am

Welcome to the forum, Chad.

We have very hot, humid summers here in southern Missouri. Our lettuce becomes bitter and the spinach bolts very quickly as soon as the temperatures warm up in early summer. My chard grows all summer long. I'm trying malabar spinach this summer for the first time.

What works best for me is to enjoy green salads in the spring and fall, and when the temps heat up we switch to summer salads such as Greek salad with plenty of onions, peppers, tomatoes, olives, and feta in vinaigrette. We also love tomato caprese - sliced tomatoes of all colors layered with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil and drizzled with olive oil and maybe a splash of vinegar. Cucumbers in vinegar or sour cream also make a good summer salad, and adding a handful of cooked shelly beans can liven up any salad.

I love the ease with which three-season gardening can be practiced in a SFG. When the spring lettuce gets bitter, pull it out and plant some basil or beans. If tomatoes succumb to the heat or diseases, replant those squares with lettuce, broccoli, or spinach in the fall.

Regarding crop rotation, as Megan said, some things need to be rotated to be safe. Most nightshade crops - potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant - should not be planted in the same squares year after year because of disease problems that can build up in the mix. A heavy feeder such as corn will take much of the nitrogen from the area surrounding its roots. IMO even adding back a trowel of compost probably won't compensate for a heavy feeder grown many years in the same square. It is better to follow a heavy feeder with something like beans or peas which have the ability to capture nitrogen from the air.

Keep us posted on how your garden grows, and we'd love to see a photo of your first salad from your new kitchen garden.


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