The overall objective was to come up with a new 2010 garden plan with the following considerations;
- The garden is 60' x 110'
- We need to rotate the crops
- Last years production was 1,800 lbs, and we would like to meet if not exceed those donations
- What we had too much of last year
- Wish list vegetables & fruits for this year
We had a blown up map of the 2009 garden with where each crop was planted and how much. We also had a blown up blank garden layout for the new 2010 garden. Paul Richtman then reviewed with the students the reason for crop rotation;
Reasons to Rotate Crops
- Disease Prevention: The main reason to rotate crops is to prevent the spread of plant disease. Disease organisms can build up over time, resulting in eventual crop failure. Rotating crops keeps these organisms in check.
- Insect Control: Crop rotation also helps reduce insect infestations.
- Nutrient Balance: Different families of plants require different nutrients. By rotating your crops, you keep the soil from being depleted and can target soil amendments to keep your garden balanced.
- Nutrient Enhancement: Some plants actually enhance the soil, so rotating them through the garden can produce free organic soil conditioning.
Once the plant groups were identified with a color coding system, then we began brainstorming with the students on how many of each vegetable & fruit we would need. From there, pencils were picked up and the students started sketching out the new 2010 garden layout.
Because space is limited in a garden, a French method of mixing seeds will be tested this year. Combining spinach and carrot seed and sowing together will better utilize the space. The spinach will also soften the ground, making it easier for carrots to grow. In about 6 weeks the spinach will be finished and carrots will develop. Combining radishes and lettuce in the same row will also give good succession. These two test areas will be planted in 4 x 4 boxed areas at the edge of the garden. We then figured out which plants would be best planted as transplants and which would be better started as seeds.
The completed garden plan will be brought back to the RCS office to draft and the finished plan brought back to the school. The next plan is to calculate which plants can be donated as transplants in order to figure out what plants the students will start from seed in the near future. The ALC Students will be working in a mentoring program with the SPIN program kids from the Stillwater School District to work together in the garden. The SPIN kids will be out at RCS on March 17th for their very first visit of 2010.
Thank you ALC Students, we look forward to our continued partnership in the RCS Giving Garden!