Garden Spotlight!

Rain! Rain! Go away and come again another day! Find yourself saying this? Trust me, I don’t blame you. The rain has been plentiful through fall and early winter, but we will likely find ourselves begging for it at some point throughout this growing season. Until the rain does slow, there is plenty to do in your garden or begin the preparations for this upcoming season. Things to consider doing in January: test germination on any seeds you had left over from last season. Saving seeds can save you money, unless you might have been saving them from several seasons ago or if they have not been stored properly.

If you have any remaining, go ahead and harvest all of those fall cool-season crops in the garden. The most cold hardy plants are going to be spinach, kales and collards. Making notes through the previous season can be important in making decisions for the upcoming season. If you didn’t take any production notes, well there is a new year’s resolution worth trying. If you did, take a look back at them. These notes will help you identify any issues you may have encountered in your garden, what produced well, what didn’t, disease pressure, and insect problems. Making sure you rotate crops can be the easiest and most beneficial thing you can do as well. Keep records this year!

Let’s talk more on crop rotation. Crop rotation involves moving crops to different locations in the garden. This will prevent a buildup of pathogens in the soil. Good rotation will involve not planting the same plant families back in the same row as last season. Crop family, what in the world? I knew you would ask! This table below will guide you in rotating those crop families. A three year rotation is best, but always refrain from planting crop families in the same row year after year. If you plant tomatoes in the first row this year plant them in the fifth row next year and the tenth row on the third year. This can be done in many different ways. Keep records!

Crop Family
Common home garden crops
Apiaceae
Carrot, celery, parsnip

Chenopodiaceae
Beet, spinach, chard

Cucurbitaceae
Cucumber, squash, pumpkin, watermelon

Poaceae
Corn

Malvaceae
Okra

Brassicaceae
Broccoli, mustard, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, kohlrabi, turnip, cabbage cauliflower, radish

Solanaceae
Tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant

Alliaceae
Chives, garlic, leek, onion

Fabaceae
Beans, peas

Asteraceae
Lettuce, sunflower

Need a rainy day activity? Take a look at your garden tools. Do you have a tine broke on your tiller or maybe you need to organize the garden shed. Look through your shed and make sure everything is in good working order for the coming season. Make sure all your metal tools are sharpened and remove any rust with a wire brush, replace any wooden handles that may have broken at the end of last season. To make sure you do not spread pathogens from year to year clean off that residual soil, use warm soapy water or a 10% bleach solution to sterilize.
For more information call or come by your local UT Extension Office, 1111 Lake Drive Dandridge TN 37725, 397-2969.

Source: Steven Huff, UT Extension Jefferson County

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014