Old School Garden's Kitchen Garden cropping plan 2016

Old School Garden’s Kitchen Garden cropping plan 2016

It’s getting to that time of year when we ‘kitchen gardeners’ like to think about our plans for next year’s food crops. Here are a few thoughts on how to approach this with an eye on maximising what you get for your efforts and minimising costs and waste….

 

1. Grow only the crops you’ll eat (but also try out something new?)

2. Think ahead and work out how much time you can spend each week before deciding what to grow.

Maximise space by using vertical growing containers like this simple 'A' Frame made from pallets

Maximise space by using vertical growing containers like this simple ‘A’ Frame made from pallets

3. Draw up a cropping plan of what you will grow during which season and where in the plot, trying to avoid growing the same things in the same place as last year. And try to maximise the use of your plot by early sowings (e.g. Broad Bean, garlic and onion sets in the autumn) and late sowings (e.g. carrots, lettuce and other winter vegetables). Also, think about planting green manures to provide soil cover and which can be dug in as a soil feed before you sow your first crop of vegetables.

 

4. Choose pest and disease resistant varieties where available (but have an eye on quality too).

 

5. Invest in fruit cages and crop covers to protect your produce. Plastic plumbing pipe can provide a relatively cheap frame on which to fix various kinds of protection- including fleece and other material to help warm up your beds as well as keeping pests off.

 

Plastic pipes can provide a good frame for protection

Plastic pipes can provide a good frame for protection

6. Concentrate on growing fewer crops well.

7. Avoid growing too much of one thing or you’ll have waste to throw away (or perhaps pass on to neighbours). Grow small quantities at different times to avoid a glut (‘succession planting’); think about dividing up your plot into smaller parcels (maybe usuing ‘square foot gardening’) and grow varieties that aren’t ‘F1’ hybrids as their plants tend to produce at the same time.

'Square Foot Gardening' can help to manage the range, timing and amounts of produce

‘Square Foot Gardening’ can help to manage the range, timing and amounts of produce

8. Avoid crops that aren’t worth the effort-  either because they’re difficult to grow, unreliable performers or where the cost and quality of what you can buy in the shops makes it sensible to buy rather than grow your own.

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest 1999

Old School Gardener

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