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by Carole Schwalm Batch of home grown carrots sitting on a kitchen counter.

Summer doesn’t officially arrive until the solstice (June 20). After that date, plant growth speeds up, for example tomatoes peak in August.

Now is the time for cooler weather crops, at their best. Cool crops: carrots, peas, spinach, cabbage and lettuce.

You need to be aware of soil temperatures if planting seeds.

Rotate your crops. You enrich the soil when you rotate the crops around year by year. Plants occupying the space previously held benefit. For example: beans and peas store nitrogen in their roots and that is added to the soil. Cabbage and potatoes draw a lot of nutrients out of the soil, and this means that you have to balance that with plant foods before you plant in that area.

Close up image of some garden lettuce leaves. It is natural to think that you buy a packet of seeds, plop them into the ground and “Voila! That’s all that it takes!” Not all plants need the same thing. Each type of plant takes something different out of the soil, and each plant exhausts the food supplies. Each plant grows best when it light meets its requirements and it is watered the way IT needs. Containers increase your opportunity to position your vegetables in areas where they have the best growing conditions.

You can place the sun lovers where they are happy. You can cultivate greens, lettuce, parsley and spinach over where the light is lower. The weather warms, the light increases, and cucumbers and tomatoes replace your early varieties of plants. You can keep moving them as the solar position changes so they get the best out of every growing day.

Note: Sow continuously if you want continuous reaping. Don’t let any space sit empty. If you pick a radish, plant something in its space. If a plant is unhealthy, pull it up before it attracts insects.

Share your plant rotation experience or if you'd like more information.