Gardening 101: Crop Rotation

It depends on where you live but at our house the snow is falling!  All this time inside with cold weather reminds me that very soon the snow will be melting and spring will arrive. Its hard to believe that its already March which means its time to plan the garden.  This simple  series:Gardening 101 should give you the basics you need to start a successful garden this year.
This my advice to prevent bacterial, fungal, soil quality issues and pest problems in 2015: Rotate your crops!  In simple terms that means: change the planting location of your vegetables each year.  More specifically avoid planting a crop in the same plant group in the same area each gardening season. Basically keep moving things around from year to year.
Bacterial and fungal diseases can overwinter in your soil!
STEP 1: Categorize your plants into 4 GROUPS
 1. Legumes: Beans, Peas, Peanuts, Cover Crops
 2. Leaf/ Flower: Lettuce, Spinach, Broccoli, Cabbage 
3. Fruiting: Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, Eggplant, Squash, Melons, Potatoes, Corn
4. Roots: Onions, Garlic, Carrots, Turnips, Beets, Radishes

STEP 2:  Get out some paper and draw the outline of your garden.  Plant a different plant group (family) in each bed. NOTE: If you only have 1 bed you can simply divide it into 4 sections and then rotate the sections every year.

STEP 3: Draw your garden plan for the next 3 to 4 years. Rotate your plants based on the progression below:
Legumes ---> Leaf ---> Fruiting ---> Root
                 (nitrogen fixing)       (both are nitrogen fixing)            (breaks up soil)
         (like loose soil) 
STEP 4: Save your crop rotation plan in a place you can find it for the following year!  The next step is to layout the specific plants within each group. (Look for my next post to learn about planning your specific layouts)

NOTE: If you want to use a more advanced crop rotation system you can group plants based on their botanical family instead of these 4 groups.  But I like to try and keep things simple!  That way we have time to enjoy moments like these....because time is precious!


Simple Healthy Smoothie

This is one of our favorite morning or afternoon snacks in our house.  I love that it includes greens and fruit along with almond milk for added calcium. Its an easy way to get our toddler to drink some veggies!

1 Banana
1 cup Frozen berries
1/2 cup Greens (Spinach, Kale or a mixture of greens)
2 cups (approx.) Almond milk (you can use regular milk)
*you can add a spoonful of Sorbet if wanted
We use the NutriBullet to mix ours but you can also use a blender. 

 STEP 1: Add the greens 
STEP 2: Add the banana and berries (sorbet if wanted)
STEP 3: Add the milk

STEP 4: Blend then drink! 


Our Winter Wonderland

Gazing out the window the garden is painted in a delicate display of white beauty.  The tree branches hang heavy with snow and the contrast of light and dark emphasize the detail of each limb.  The garden is asleep for the winter anticipating the spring to come.  In our home we have begun planning and dreaming of what this year may bring!

Our new seed catalogs have arrived in the mail with pictures of beautiful heirloom varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers!  I must admit that I always want to try a variety of vegetables but I have to remember that I only have so much room in the garden. Its hard to pick just 1 or 2 varieties of squash when I would love to try them all.
This last year we welcomed a new addition to our family and I took a small break from writing in the fall and early winter.  However, I am excited to start up this year with new information and lessons learned!  The beautiful part of gardening is that each year you start over again and I never tire of being part of the process.

 1. Share my heart: I started this blog to share the ways that God has moved in our lives through starting our garden and the ways he has used the garden to teach us amazing lessons.  
2. Involve the kids: with two little ones my goals are to find ways to involve them in the process. This year I am going to be dedicating some posts to this topic! 

3. Garden Tours: Sharing knowledge from friends, family and other garden enthusiasts! I am going to continue my posts showing a variety of gardens.

Journey along with us in 2015!


Choosing Heirloom Seeds

Its a very exciting time of the year at our house!  Our seed catalogs have arrived and its time to plan our garden for 2015.  In past years I have bought seeds at stores, and ordered a few from catalogs.  This year we have decided to revamp our process and buy all Heirloom seeds.  Why are we choosing to go this route?

1. Ability to save seed  
You can replant heirloom seeds (open pollinated) that you have saved from the previous year's crop because the plant remains stable in its characteristics. This is different from hybrids (which have been cross pollinated).  If you save hybrid seed you never know what you are going to get! 

2. Greater Flavor 
Most heirloom varieties have a richer flavor (especially tomatoes).

3. Seeds with history & stories 
Typically these seeds are pre-WWII or at least 50 years old.  They have been passed down from generations and I love that our children can learn these stories.  A beautiful way to bring life and knowledge to your garden.  

4. Variety  
Not only do you get greater flavor but an amazing selection in size, color, taste and culture.  Why not grow a white eggplant or a purple tomato?  At the same time you will discover a beautiful range in the plants you harvest. 
5. Discovery  
The plants you harvest will vary in fruit size, and timing of harvest.  Unlike a hybrid plant that produces fruit that is similar in size and has a predicable harvest time.

First I started by looking at the seeds we didn't use from last year (below) and started a list of what we would like to grow this year!  The next step is to make sure we are rotating our crops from the last couple years........