About Me

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My tremendously supportive husband & I have 3 wonderful children, 1 dog, 12 laying hens, 2 dairy goats, 3 bee hives, and a 2000 sq foot vegetable garden on a small 1/4 acre lot in the city. In the center of it all is our small 1,000 sq foot house purchased in 2008 as a foreclosure that we fully renovated to host our growing family, home school adventures, and small home business (CozyLeaf.com). We have a desire to learn a path to self sufficiency finding ways to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. We want to learn to live with less as we laydown roots to our little homestead.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Companion Planting, Planting Schedules, & Crop Rotation

Planning my garden this year was very overwhelming! It was difficult trying to decide what to plant where to get the best companion planting as well as planting at the right time and starting the seeds inside far enough in advance. There are a few plants that have not done so good, but for the most part the garden has gone pretty good! There have been quite a few unexpected surprises too...but this year Bryan and I really just looked at as an experimental and educational year so we can be more prepared for next year. Another frustration for me is looking at empty spaces in my garden and trying to decide what to plant there! I hate to see un-planted soil back there and I really don't know why it is so hard for me to decide what to plant in those empty spots...but it is just all so new and different to me so I just get overwhelmed...plus we kind of started with a pretty big garden.
I love making charts! When I am having a hard time making a decision I always go to Excel and make a spreadsheet...I just love spreadsheets to help me organize my life! But before I could make a spreadsheet I had to figure out what was important to have on the spreadsheet.

It came down to a huge spreadsheet, but for those who are not very fond of large spreadsheets I will break it down to the 3 main points:

1: Companion Planting: Once again I recommend "The Vegetable Gardeners Bible". I got alot of my information from this book...and it has great pictures with excellent step by step instructions for us beginners! Another resource for companion planting is companion planting.net, they have a great chart for what plants work well together. This is really important if you are wanting to garden organically because it helps balance your garden and keep the environment undesirable to the bad bugs.

2: Planting Schedule: Another resource I used for trying to figure out when to plant what was from Heirloom Seeds (where I bought all my seeds this year). They have good charts (which I love) for Spring Planting Schedules as well as Fall Planting Schedules. To use these charts you have to know when the first frost and last frost usually hits in your area. I printed out the charts and only highlighted the column that was relevant for my specific frost area...then it wasn't so overwhelming! Victory Seeds has a good chart for helping figure out when your first and last frost will hit. The chart is here and just click on your State and it breaks down your State into the major cities.

3: Crop Rotation: Unless you are able to add alot of new rich soil to your garden each year you should probably not plant your tomatoes in the exact same spot each year but move your garden around a little bit... but you need to make sure that your soil has enough nutrients for the particular plant you are putting there. Some plants strip different things from the soil while they put other things back into the soil so you want to make sure you rotate to get the best yields possible. I have no experience in crop rotation because this is our first year so the soil was pretty much good to go...but since I am wanting to do some fall planting I have been looking into what I need to plant where. The best resource I have found for that is once again "The Vegetable Gardeners Bible". He has a great list of what is good and bad to plant before and after each crop. Some other good online resources are The Yankee Gardener, as well as this nice diagram on Crop Rotation for your Vegetable Garden.

There are a ton of different methods and techniques to use for organic gardening, but these are the 3 that I have focused on and will try to add more as I go.
Fall planting is here and going quickly so start getting a plan and your seeds ready as well as the ground prepared and your fall crops will be productive...hopefully :)
Happy Planting :)


  1. I go through this every spring too. I actually start planning in the fall but I am not nearly so organized!

    I can see I am going to have to start "getting it together" this fall when I start planning next year's gardens!

    Lots of good ideas here!

  2. I am not nearly as organized as I would like to be...maybe someday when I am more experienced! I started trying to plan way ahead of time, but then when I started putting everthing in the ground things started to change...therefore changing everything!! When I realized I had to rotate my crops, I realized I was going to have to go through the crazy planning each and every year...but that is part of the fun!! That is why I started only focusing on these 3 things, I realized if I kept making more and more work for myself I just couldnt organize it all!

  3. Ton's of knowledge from you. I am going to follow and learn from you.


  4. Cindy, wow thank you! I dont feel like I have a whole lot of knowledge to offer, but I am obsessed about learning new things and I will post my adventures as I go!

  5. Thanks for your advice. I didn't rotate my tomatoes one year because I changed my crop rotationcrop rotation plans and ended up with a bad case of blight. Won't do that again. (Plus I read not to compost store-bought tomatoes because they can spread blight. So I stopped doing that, just in case.) Generally, I rotate my raised beds like this (but I still tweak things now and then, and add other minor crops to these main ones): Year 1 is cukes and cabbage family. Year 2 is tomatoes/peppers. Year 3 is legumes. Year 4 is zucchini. Year 5 is tomatoes/peppers. Year 6 is garlic/onions. Year 7 is compost and letting the bed rest (a biblical concept). I try to keep two years between planting plants in same spot. It's still a work in progress. But it's fun work.