Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crop rotaion, volunteers and container gardening

Being new to gardening I always have lots of questions.  My first question today deals with crop rotation - it makes sense, but if I have a volunteer plant, should I move it or just let it be?

Container gardening - do you really have to wash out the containers every year?  Do you re-use the soil or start from scratch every year?  Does it really matter or can I treat just do crop rotation with the containers too?

Volunteer Runner Beans

I wasn't planning on growing Scarlett Runner beans this year, we are branching out and trying some other true bean varieties.  So far we are doing asparagus beans, yellow wax, Roma, fava, and edamame. We did edamame last year, but had a horrible crop, so we are trying it again since it is Ryle's favorite food (well, today at least). But as I was around the location I am growing some cucumbers, I noticed some volunteer runner beans. What's a girl to do? I planted some seeds I had saved and turned the 5 foot trellis I had been planning on training the cucumbers up on it's side and shared it with the beans. I hope they share nicely!

What do you do with your volunteers?

Happy gardening.


  1. I won't pretend to be overly knowledgeable about it, but I can tell you what I do.

    If a volunteer plant looks healthy, it must like where it's growing. I wouldn't move it unless you want it in a different place. I don't worry about rotating crops in a small garden as long as there hasn't been a disease problem. My father grew tomatoes in the same place in his yard for 50 years!

    If the pots grew healthy plants, with no sign of disease, I reuse the soil but mix it with some new potting mix. I always wash the containers using a bit of chlorine bleach with dish soap. I do mine in the bathtub, and let them soak in the chlorine for at least five minutes before rinsing them off.

  2. I had lots of volunteers (about 15) come up in my garden, and I gave lots of the tomato volunteers away, and kept about 6 of them to see what they would grow into. I also had volunteer cucumbers and I kept those too. I moved them to another location. I don't do crop rotation, but I amend the soil with adding lots of compost and organic fertilizers like moo poo and fish emulsion. I do wash the container pots if they look like moldy inside. I also do a bleach / soap combo like Annie's Granny. I also don't reuse the soil in my container pots if I had tomatoes or another plant that heavily pull nutrients from the soil. I tend to start with new soil.