Imagine being able to pick fresh lemons, limes and oranges right from your patio! Read more »
Cutting overgrown grasses by more than an inch or two at a time can create unhealthy brown and bald spots in your lawn – or ev... Read more »
Kids are eager gardeners. They love to experiment with colorful flowers, have an adventurous sense of design, and getting dirt... Read more »
Our Shear Ease® Grass Shears include a patented mechanism that prevents the blades from jamming or sticking when you’re trimmin... Read more »
The first time you try our PowerGear® Hedge Shears, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear techno... Read more »
Our Easy-Pour Watering Can offers both capacity and control. The 2.6-gallon volume holds a generous amount of water that is eas... Read more »
Put your crafting skills to work and create a beautiful and unique fascinator that reflects your personal style. Read more »
“Painting” with tissue paper is not only fun but beautiful! Read more »
Mosaic tile frames are a beautiful way to display photos. Read more »
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Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with a Squeeze Punch that makes every embellishment up to 2X easier to pun... Read more »
Designed for tight, precise cuts through Duck® Tape, our Duck® Edition Detail Scissors feature a non-stick blade coating that p... Read more »
A colorful, roomy bag is just the thing you need to carry all your belongings for a day at the beach. Read more »
Keep the kids busy on a road trip with their own art bag full of inspiration and the essentials. Read more »
This easy pillowcase dress looks adorable with pretty fabrics. Plus, it is super simple to put together, even if you have not... Read more »
Only our Stitcher Scissors provide precision and control that meet the needs of the most demanding sewers and quilters. Micro-T... Read more »
Our Seamstress Scissors are the perfect all-purpose scissors for anyone who cuts fabric frequently. The smooth action of these... Read more »
Choose our Dressmaker Shears for long, smooth cuts through multiple layers of medium to heavy fabrics. Extra-long blades maximi... Read more »
Looking for a sure cure for bored kids - make sparkly sea creatures! Read more »
Open-ended activities like this Busy Book can keep kids occupied in the back seat of a car AND spark fun family conversations! Read more »
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Our Preschool Training Scissors features a special training lever that opens the blades after each cut, helping children learn... Read more »
Children love our Designer Non-stick Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the colorful handle patterns that make cutting fun and the non... Read more »
Our Designer Non-stick Student Scissors are larger than our Kids Scissors but smaller than adult scissors, perfect for those ol... Read more »
The beautiful mood lighting of lanterns at outdoor gatherings is fabulous, so why not craft up a set to use this summer. Read more »
Treat your children to their own special tent hideaway, then stand back and watch as the fun and adventures begin! Read more »
Make a thoughtful gift for someone this summer! Read more »
The StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower combines patent-pending technology with superior ergonomics to deliver best-in-class cutting perf... Read more »
Great for beginners, the unique design of this tool makes cutting perfect shapes from fabric a breeze — since you’re not managi... Read more »
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If you don’t rotate your crops from year to year, disease and insects will make your beds their playground instead of yours.
Before we talk about crop rotation, let’s discuss raised beds. Growing plants in raised beds is really biointensive gardening which means to grow plants close together in a small space. If you live in an urban area, raised beds and vertical gardening are useful techniques because sun exposure and planting areas can be quite small. One method of biointensive gardening is square foot gardening, a style and term coined by Mel Bartholomew. It uses 4' x 4' square beds like the one below.
You may want to line your raised bed with landscape fabric to keep tunneling weeds—like Burmuda grass—out of your planting area. However, most weeds are seeds blown in on the wind or dropped by birds. I use a mix of garden soil and compost in my raised beds. Every year, I place more compost on top of the existing soil to keep it fertile and crumbly like chocolate cake.
There are entire communities online devoted to square foot gardening, and many participants create charts displaying their best planting schemes.
In my potager—kitchen garden, I use a method called block planting. In place of long straight rows, I grow blocks of plants. Larger crops, like tomatoes and squash, take up half of a four-foot bed, while other tidier crops, like peppers, are planted one foot apart. While it’s not as formal as square foot gardening, block planting is still a biointensive method.
Assume the square below is one bed. You could plant four indeterminate tomatoes in this space with one in the center of each square, or you could plant two tomatoes centered on one side, and four peppers on the other.
You don’t have to be tied to the 4’ x 4’ model though. You can make beds longer and narrower. The ones in my potager are rectangular instead of square. A common size is 4’ x 8’ or 4’ x 12’. It depends upon the size of your garden space and how many plants you want to grow. The four-foot width is standard because most people can reach to the middle of the bed for planting and harvesting. Any wider, and you may need to walk upon the soil, compacting it.
When I want to rotate my crops, I simply assign one bed to each type of vegetable and its companions—like herbs and edible flowers. Each spring, these plants do the shuffle. The easiest way is to move everything one square to the right each year. If you don’t want to write your plants down in a garden journal, take photos of the garden when planted in spring and save them into a notes program on your computer. I drag and drop photos into my Evernote app. It’s also where I keep all of my garden notes. When planning next year’s garden, I write down where everything is, and how I will shift the plants next year. That way, I don’t plant tomatoes, for instance, in the same place two years in a row. My state has trouble with root knot nematodes, and they can stop tomato or pepper production in its tracks. What’s worse is you won’t even know you have them until you pull up your tomatoes and see the evidence in their twisted, bumpy and gnarled roots. Crop rotation is all about location, location, location.
I do some of my best designing when I’m staring outside at a winter landscape. Make your notes in summer and then draw a simple garden plan in winter. Make copies of the plan, or if you’re going all digital, you can do all of this in Excel. However, if you’re the creative type, maybe you’ll want to get out your colored pencils. Either way, works just fine.
The one year I didn’t use crop rotation, I had more disease problems and bugs in my garden than ever before. Even if your garden looks perfect now, just remember a garden is never static. It’s always growing and changing. That’s what makes it fun.