This week in June is a good time to think about what plants to add to backyard gardens after you’re ready to take out what you might have planted at the end of April or the beginning of May—likely radishes, turnips, lettuce, other cool season greens and maybe spinach.
Erica Lavdanski of B & H Organic Produce in Caernarvon Township is well versed in crop rotatation smarts as the seasons change in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
After taking out any veggies which you might have been growing in your garden in the past few months before warmest weather hit, Lavdanski mentions that some new options to add into the ground are cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, beans (string and pole), lettuce, radishes, turnips, kale, salad mix, scallions, Swiss chard, leeks, basil, carrots and beets.
Lavdanski notes that some kinds of lettuce are specifically developed to grow well in summer months and will thrive if tended to well.
But it’s important to tidy up an area before joining in new plants and to ensure that the soil gets some movement.
“If compost was added to the garden in the fall or early spring, no new amendments are necessary,” Lavdanski says.
This is because the vegetables she recommends planting are light feeders and don’t need as rich of fertilization as crops which tend to be heavy feeders in need of more fertile soil.
“It is important to remove all stems, roots, leaves, weeds and organic material from the first planting before replanting the area,” she says. “And depending on the size of the garden, the soil should be tilled or hoed.”
Lavdanski said placement of new crops into same holes as where old vegetables were isn’t a problem if light feeders are grown.
“These crops can all be followed by another crop in the same holes, provided that the area is clean and the soil is loosened,” she says about the vegetables she suggests.
“Make sure existing plants in the garden are not overcrowding the new smaller plants or will not be crowding them in the near future,” she adds. “Any new plantings will be much smaller and will need access to light and water.”
Spacing between new crops is another detail to consider.
“This information is very specific to each crop,” Lavdanski says. “Each crop needs a specific circumference of space for their roots to access nutrients and water.
The website for Lavdanski’s farm operation has a chart explaining spacing requirements needed for a wide variety of plants.
She says that the Johnny’s Selected Seeds website is also a great reference for planting insights.
“As an example, lettuce and spinach need an 8 inch circumference,” she says. “String beans only need 4 inches, and cucumbers need 18 inches.”
If plants aren’t given enough space, if we’re being too optimistic about limited space or wanting to grow more rather than less, decreased water and light exposure can result from crowding.
Larger, established plants laying on or shading out new seedlings are other problems of overcrowding.
“And certain crops do not like to grow next to each other,” she says, referencing that simply Googling ‘companion planting’ will yield examples to learn.
An In-Depth Companion Planting Guide published by Mother Earth News gives a few examples of what not to plant together: beets and pole beans; broccoli and strawberries; carrots and onions or leeks; garlic and peas.
“Any new plantings will require consistent watering to establish or germinate, if the days are hot and we are lacking rain,” Lavdanski adds.
Lavdanski also says it’s a good idea to rotate crops every year and create a garden plan.