Good planning is of course key in any time saving in the garden, especially when we have such a short growing season in Finland.
A good plan in vegetable gardening that is quick to reference will include correct seed sowing times, staggered sowing times so that quick growing plants like lettuce and radish aren’t all ready for harvest at the same time, as well as allowing you to think about the design of the kitchen garden.
Vegetable gardens are usually grown so that the crops are all planted in straight lines. Admittedly it helps in the way that it’s easy to maintain plants in rows but as a garden designer I like to bring the element of design into growing vegetables also.
As well as using straight lines, I like to use curves, made by a prominent tall, coloured vegetable like purple kale.
Garden design planting employs the clever use of plant forms, plant sizes, leaf shapes, flower colours, and textures.
There are so many of these traits found in modern day vegetables that I can’t help but use them to make the kitchen garden a visual attraction of planting, just as in the rest of the garden.
As vegetables are grown on an annual basis the design changes from year to year.
Crop rotation against pests and diseases
It also takes into account rotating the crops from one year to the next. In general, crop rotation should be practiced as it helps combat a build up of crop specific pests and diseases in the soil and it allows for the grouping of crops according to their cultivation needs.
There are five main crop groups; Brassicas, Legumes, Onions, Potato family and Roots.
Crop rotation will plan to rotate these groups so that they are planted on a different area of the kitchen garden next year, e.g. this years onion crops (leek, spring onion, garlic etc.) are planted next year where this year’s Brassica crops (spinach, kale, cabbage etc.) were grown.
Good crop husbandry
There are of course specific pests, diseases and disorders associated with different types of vegetables. For example, I have had some trouble in the past with flea beetles that attack all vegetables contained in the Brassica family.
These problems are overcome by good crop husbandry - the sterilising of seed trays and pots, growing healthy, small plants from seed in the greenhouse before they are planted in the soil and the use of fleece placed over the newly planted plants which acts as a physical barrier preventing pests getting to the plants.
One thing I can guarantee though is that the healthier a plant is, the better it is in its resistance to pests and diseases.