Four Reasons to Grow Veggies this Fall

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Oct 5, 2016 5:40:57 PM


lettuce2.jpgSacramento is blessed with long, hot summers and mild, temperate winters, meaning we can grow our own year 'round. 

However, most home gardeners forget about the delicious, nutritious and hardy vegetables which thrive when the temperatures drop.

Here are four compelling reasons to give cool-season veggies a try this fall!

 

 

Keep The Beds Clean 
Rather than letting your vegetable beds become overrun with weeds throughout the winter, try planting cool-season crops! If you are selective about crop-rotation, the quality of your soil can actually be improved by continuing to grow veggies during the winter months. Click the button below to learn more about how to rotate your crops to maximize your yield. 

Crop Rotation 101

They're Easy Peasy 
Cooler temperatures means fewer pests, making it easier to maintain your garden organically. Slugs and Snails are usually the biggest culprit for crop damage in the winter, and they can be easily controlled by lining your beds or containers with copper tape. You'll find copper tape in the Garden Solutions department of any Green Acres Nursery & Supply. 

Nutritious & Delicious
Leafy greens such as Kale, Swiss Chard and Spinach are high in vitamins and antioxidants, boosting your immunity through the cold & flu season. Cruciferous vegetables such as Broccoli, Cabbage and Brussel Sprouts contain a substance called glucosinolates, which have been found to reduce your risk for certain types of cancer. 

Fewer Food Miles 
Food miles are the distance that your food has traveled to get to you. By buying your veggies plants from your local nursery and growing them in your backyard, you are reducing the environmental impact of fuel consumption caused by transporting food long distances (AKA your "carbon footprint")

Green Acres Nursery & Supply sources all of our vegetables from local growers such as Eisley's Nursery in Auburn, Kawahara Nurseries in Morgan Hill and Fredriks Nursery in Ripon. By sourcing our vegetable starters locally, we are:

  • Helping sustain fellow independent nurseries in our local economy
  • Providing you with plants that are well-acclimated to the area
  • Ensuring that your veggie starters are fresh, giving them a head start in your garden

Ready to start growing your own?

Here's a list of what vegetables you can plant when for the Sacramento Area:

Veggie Calendar

Topics: What Can I Plant This Season?, Winter, Edibles, Veggies and Herbs, Fall Veggies, IPM, Fall

Crop Rotation: What, Why & How

Posted by Green Acres Nursery & Supply on Nov 3, 2015 9:38:44 AM

Raised_Veggie_bed-152108-edited-274982-editedCrop rotation is a technique almost as old as agriculture. People have been doing it since before we understood the scientific reasons behind its benefits. Essentially, it is the practice of rotating which types of annual fruit & vegetable crops you plant in specific areas of your garden (not to be confused with companion planting, which involves planting certain crops alongside each other in a garden in order to enhance flavor, deter pests or provide shade or structure).

Two primary reasons people rotate crops:

  • To ensure the soil is not depleted of the same nutrients over and over again
  • To reduce the risk of pests/diseases of plants that are susceptible to the same pests/diseases

Nutrient Retention

In the wisdom of crop rotation, plants are lumped into four different categories depending on what they produce: fruit, leafy greens, root, and legume. These categories of plants uptake different levels of major nutrients, and if you plant a crop which is a heavy feeder of a specific nutrient in the same location year after year, your yield will eventually suffer. Fertalizer_NPK-01-542778-editedThe major plant nutrients that every plant needs to survive (the three numbers on the fertilizer box) are nitrogen, phosphorous & potassium, abbreviated by their elemental symbols as N-P-K. The numbers are listed in order of importance, meaning nitrogen is the most heavily utilized. This is why it's a good idea to alternately rotate all your planting areas with leguminous cover crops, which fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and enrich the soil.

Garden Tip: October is the last chance to plant cover crops in this climate. 

  • Leafy and fruiting crops are heavy feeders which use nitrogen rapidly
  • Root vegetables and herbs are light feeders
  • Legumes add nitrogen to the soil, but they deplete it of phosphorous

Knowing this, it would be wise to balance out the heavy feeders by following them with light feeders. It also makes sense to follow nitrogen-fixing legumes with crops which are heavy nitrogen feeders.

In one bed you might choose to grow tomatoes ---> beets, carrots & radishes ---> beans ---> lettuce, kale & spinach. That would be 2-year rotation where the first year you plant a heavy feeder in the summer, followed by a light feeder in the winter. Then, the following year you plant a nitrogen-fixing legume in the summer, followed by a heavy feeder in the winter. 

Pest Prevention

Plants in the same family tend to be susceptible to the same pests, so it's a good idea to know your plant families and avoid planting them in the same places too often. Here are some common crops grouped by their families:

  • Alliaceae
    Garlic, Onions
  • Apiaceae
    Carrots, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Parsnips
  • Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)
    Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Turnips
  • Cucurbitaceae
    Cucumbers, Gourds, Melons, Pumpkins, Squash, Watermelons
  • Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
    Beans, Clover (cover crop), Peas
  • Poaceae 
    Corn, Oats, Wheat
  • Solanaceae
    Eggplant, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes

If you grow both a summer and a winter vegetable garden, think about where you planted members of the same plant family last season, so you can avoid creating a pest paradise.

It is easiest to rotate your crops if you have multiple planting beds, but depending on space, this may not be possible. Four planting beds is ideal, because you will always have a place for one of the four crop categories (fruits, leafy greens, root vegetables and legumes) and you have plenty of room to separate the plant families which may share pesky pests. If you are limited on space, be sure that you are thoroughly amending your soil after each growing season, to improve structure, fertility and feed the micro-organisms which live there. 

Now that you know the basics, you're ready to plan your next veggie garden with crop rotation in mind! Take the time to learn about the vegetables you like to grow at home and be amazed to see your yields increase, diseases decrease and the health of your soil improve. Check out our vegetable planting calendar below to find out what you can grow now:

Veggie Calendar

Topics: Pest Prevention, Edibles, Organic, Veggies and Herbs, IPM

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