Week 3: May 22

Topics:

  • Crop rotation
  • How to plant potatoes

Summary of week’s activities:

  • Sowing potatoes and radishes
  • Garden planning: review the different crop families and decide which plants you want to plant of each
  • First community potluck!

This week the class learned about crop rotation. Crop rotation is important as it cuts down on disease and nutrient depletion of the soil. In the CTG, crops are rotated through four quadrants within each individual garden bed. Gardeners are given a garden map at the beginning of the gardening season which shows where crops from specific families of plants are to be planted that year. Another thing which gardeners must consider when designing a garden is plant height, to prevent shading of shorter plants. However, some plants, including cool season crops like lettuce and spinach, thrive in shade and will do well in the shadow of a taller plant. If these plants are given full sun they will “bolt,” or flower and go to seed – a process that ends their life cycle and makes their leaves bitter and unpalatable. When these plants are grown in shade, the harvest will be extended and crop will be more tender and succulent. The height of a mature plant can be found on the back of seed packets.

The type of plant determines whether a gardener should use wide or single rows. Single rows are used for plants that will take up a lot of space, while crops like greens, radishes, and beets go in wide rows since they are small and can grow close together. Seedlings in wide rows, especially greens, should be thinned throughout the growing season. This allows a few vigorous plants to reach maturity. Wide rows should be spaced several inches apart. Spacing within a wide row can be based on the size of the seed. Larger seeds, like beets, can be planted and inch or so apart. Smaller seeds like lettuce can be scattered much more densely and thinned as they grow. Many planting instructions on seed packages are designed with large mono-crop harvesting in mind, but the CTG utilizes small raised beds, a system which allows for rows to be planted more closely. When paths are not placed between each row of crops, a diverse selection of plants can be planted in a small, easily reachable space, and each plant doesn’t need as much room. In order to extend the harvest, not all seeds should be planted at the same time in a garden. Instead, succession planting is recommended.

We learned how to plant potatoes this week. To do this, you want to have organic seed potatoes which are certified disease free, after a first purchase you may want to save some to re-seed the following year. Gardeners cut the potato so that there a a couple of “eyes” on each chunk. An eye is the growth on the potato that will grow into the plant .

Next, gardeners dig two trenches, 8 inches deep and 1.5 feet between them. Then place each potato chunk in the trench a foot between each, and cover with soil.

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