For the past two years, the Savvy Garden has focused on tomatoes and beans (and basil, of course). It seemed logical: tomatoes are so versatile, and beans are my favorite summer vegetable to roast or grill. And they are both “pick and come again,” so I can make the most of my limited garden space.
But they are also both nutrient-sucks, weighing heavily on the soil. I tried rotating the crops last year, but there’s only so much rotation you can achieve with five 4′x4′ beds, especially if you want to fill three of them with tomatoes. As soon as the bean plants were more than a few feet tall last summer, the leaves began to yellow. Despite regular fertilizing, the plants remained weak and susceptible to disease. Then by the middle of the summer, the tomatoes were beginning to struggle as well. In the end, we didn’t get much out of either crop.
I know that if I plant a bunch of tomatoes and beans again this year, things will be even worse. The soil just needs a break. I made sure the beds got plenty of mulch to add some nutrients back to the soil over the winter, and this spring, I’m switching up what I plant.
In 2013, the Savvy Garden will look like this:
- Only one-half bed of tomatoes, instead of the usual three, and it will be one of the beds that has never held tomato plants. I’ll only be growing sungolds, as they are our favorite to eat fresh and make excellent preserves. The other half of the tomato bed with be filled with basil and garlic.
- Only one-half box of beans, instead of the usual two.
- One box of zucchini, nasturtiums and borage. The past two times I’ve tried to grow summer squash, it has been taken over by pests, but both the nasturtiums and borage should help deter them. Plus, the flowers are edible, and will be fun to add to salads!
- Which is good, because we’ll be eating a lot of salads. I plan on devoting the remaining two and a half boxes largely to arugula, spinach and basil, with a few shallots, cucumbers and carrots mixed in.
- The cold frames in the front yard will also be used for salad ingredients: lettuces and radishes.
- The box in the front yard will have carrots, bush peas and turnips.
Hopefully, this modified garden plan will serve as crop rotation, so that we can successfully grow more tomatoes and beans in 2014!