The middle of winter is a good time to plan your garden. Good planning can help you avoid pest issues and ensure a good yield over the summer.
How to plan your spring/summer line-up:
- Rotate your crops. Pests, molds and viruses love it when the same crops are planted in the same location year after year because they don’t have to go far to get their favorite food. Also, know which familes your plants belong too. Plants in the same family, such as the Nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes) or the Brassicaceae family (broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts) tend to attract similar insects, so it’s a good idea to mix these up a bit.
- Intercrop. As we learned from the Integrated Pest Management post (http://ieuagies.blogspot.com/2011/12/integrated-pest-management.html), intercropping reduces garden pests by limiting the amount of any one plant type found in the same area. Additionally, intercropping refers to the strategic planting of pest-repelling plants, such as marigold, garlic, and certain herbs (dill and mint) to ward off infestation.
- Attract beneficial insects. Remember to incorporate flowering plants for pollinators and clovers, mustards, dill, and chives for ladybugs. These plants can be intercropped with vegetable plants to act as companion plants.
- Good timing leads to better yield. In a well-planned garden, you can often increase your yield if you incorporate the plant’s ‘time to maturation’ into your time schedule. In the case of tomatoes, there are three varieties: early maturing plants (40-55 days: Early Girl & Early Wonder), mid-season plants (56-75 days: Better Boy & Celebrity), and late-season plants (76-95 days: Brandywine & Cherokee Purple). Planting some of each variety will ensure that you have tomatoes all summer long and well into the fall. Check the information on the seed packet to determine the time to maturation for vegetables.
After you decide which plants you would like to incorporate into your garden you can begin to draft a design for the space. See our upcoming blog post: Designing your Spring/Summer Garden to get inspired.