Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Planning the Gardens
Snow has finally arrived at Red Bucket Farm. We enjoyed a very mild December and Old Man Winter took his time in arriving, but the city is currently covered in a few inches of snow with a slick layer of crunchy ice on top. Ick.
The good news is that this year's seed catalogs have arrived, and I'm nearly finished with my garden plan for 2012. This year I'm trying to incorporate new gardening practices, specifically crop rotation and companion planting.
Companion planting is the concept that plants have friends and foes in the garden. Why do basil and tomatoes coexist so nicely? Why can't I plant carrots next to parsnips? Sometimes, a plant may emit an aroma that is offensive to another plant's predators. Often the evidence of beneficial companionship is merely anecdotal. Still, I'm reading plenty of gardening books and trying to learn from the experience of others. Most importantly, I'm learning that it's good to plant my raised beds with a mixture of plants. This year there will not be eight tomato plants marching in a row. Instead, tomatoes will co-mingle with basil and carrots. Perhaps this will allow more air circulation and limit the blight problems of last year.
The other important planning consideration is crop rotation, which is important for soil nutrition and for pest and disease control. Soil diseases and insect eggs can overwinter in the soil. If I rotate crops around the raised beds, those bugs and soil diseases have farther to travel to find their favorite victim. This means that I can't plant beans this year where they grew last year, nor can I grow plants of the same family in the same bed. It's a little like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle.
I have my hand-drawn garden map from last year---very important since I don't always remember exactly where everything was located. This year's map is still in it's final planning stages. The next decisions will be to decide exactly which crops I want to grow, and then I'll begin choosing seeds from those beautiful seed catalogs.