Sunday, December 30, 2018

What's happening in the New Year's edible garden

Frosty late December morning in the garden
Sunday, December 30, 2018

At the very end of December, many would think there is nothing going in the garden without protection.  Surprisingly, there are many herbs and some greens holding their own this time of year.  You can garden year round in small space

Mustard, celery, sorrel, parsley, kale and chard are still alive.  All can be used in salads.  Mustard and chard can be steamed or sautéed.  Sorrel soup is a favorite.  The prettiest chard with the dark red stems are the least hardy, but mine are still hanging in there.  The chard with the white stems are looking the best.
Salad burnet
Salad burnet still looks great right now.  It shows no signs of stress from the cold weather.  The taste is fresh and reminiscent of cucumber.  It brightens a ho-hum salad.  Homegrown, organic salads in a Midwest winter
Thyme
Many herbs are holding on as well-thyme, oregano, sage, lavender, rosemary.  I have started chervil in the garage.  I has sprouted.  It does great inside.  My bay plants are doing quite well in the garage where I overwinter them each year.  You can have fresh herbs for cooking right through New Year’s.  Growing herbs indoors for winter

I also bring my citrus plants into the garage.  The kumquat is covered in almost ripe fruits.  The goji or Wolfberry survives in the garage, but does not flower or fruit during the winter.  Fruit for small spaces

Herbs were my first step into edible gardening.  They are so easy to grow, require no special attention, and many herbs are perennials so you plant once and are done.  All that is left is enjoying the great food you can create with your own super fresh herbs.  Start a kitchen herb garden!

I still have lettuce growing the garden without cover.  You can keep lettuce going all winter in a portable greenhouse.November was below average in temps and December has been about average.  Late December sees highs in the 40's and lows in the 20's.  January is typically the coldest where only the hardiest survive without cover.    Extend the season with protection for plants

Monday, December 24, 2018

Make your own lip tint!



Monday, December 24, 2018

Here is recipe that I got on motherearthliving.com for all natural tinted lip balm you can make yourself!  Also a great gift idea for family and friends.
DIY Lip Tint 
1 teaspoon organic coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon beeswax pellets
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon organic beet root juice for color
1/8 teaspoon organic vegetable glycerin
Melt the chopped coconut oil and beeswax in a double boiler (bowl in a water bath).  When melted, add in the beet juice and glycerin.  When well incorporated, add to a small jar and you have your own homemade lip tint with all natural, or organic, ingredients.

DIY Lip Balm
1 heaping tablespoon beeswax
1 tablespoon organic shea butter
2 tablespoons organic almond oil
few drops of vitamin E oil
15 drops of pure essential oil like rose, grapefruit, orange or lemon

Prepare the lip balm as lip tint, using double boiler.  When beeswax, shea butter, and almond oil are melted, add vitamin E oil and essential oil, mix and immediately pour into lip balm containers.  You can add colorant to the lip balm as well.

If you want to make your own lip dyes, here is a list I got from hobbyfarmhome.com: 
Red cabbage: pink
Onion skins: orangey-brown to green
Strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and pomegranates: shades of pink and red
Blueberries, blackberries: blue to purple
Mulberries: purple
Turmeric: vivid orange
Cumin: yellow
Paprika: orange to red
Spinach: pale green to light yellow
Cherries (frozen): peach to beige
Barberry (all parts): yellow-orange

Sunday, December 16, 2018

What's happening in the mid-December edible garden

Foggy December day
Sunday, December 16, 2018

Most think that nothing is alive to eat in a mid December garden.  Winter is hard on almost all living green things, but some can out weather even the harshest winter temperatures.

So, what is still surviving in mid December?  Oregano, creeping thyme, thyme, mint, parsley, carrots, celery, kale, cabbage, sorrel, chives, miner's lettuce, cultivated dandelions, chard and onions are all still green without any cover.
Edible garden

Salad burnet
Oregano

Parsley

Chard
Rosemary

Egyptian walking onions

Kale

Under cover, lettuce, sprouting broccoli, celery, parsley, sorrel, and kale are still green and happy. 
Small mini portable green house

Use the fresh greens in salads and herbs in salads, soups or cooked dishes.  It is cold outside, but the garden keeps giving.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Home grown medicinal teas

Thyme in flower
Sunday, February 18, 2018

You can make your own teas from common herbs growing in your garden or to spice up store bought teas. You may have growing in your garden what you need for your own home grown medicinal teas.

Burdock-can be used to help with constipation and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Chamomile-used to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, and restlessness.  It is well known for its relaxing effect.  Be careful using, though, if you have a ragweed allergy.
Echinacea-the dried root of this coneflower is a well known immune system support.
Fennel-used for osteoporosis, stomach cramps.
Lavender-for anxiety, insomnia, irritability, restlessness.
Lemon balm-for digestion, nervousness, skin conditions.
Oregano-has antibacterial and anti fungal properties.
Plantain-for coughing, inflammation, insect/animal bites.
Red clover-menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, skin conditions.
Rosemary-been used since ancient times for memory.
Sage-for digestive problems, menopausal symptoms.
Thyme-for allergies, colds, cuts or scrapes, fungal infections, respiratory infections.
Valerian-used in many sleeping aids, has a relaxing effect.
Harvesting and drying herbs

You can use stevia, an herb rich in antioxidants, to help sweeten your tea.  A little goes a long way and too much can cause a bitter taste.  1/8 teaspoon or less is all that is needed.
A sweet alternative-grow your own

You can place in cheesecloth or a tea ball.  Steep for 4-6 minutes.  

For more ideas on tea blends for the cold months, this article in Mother Earth News had some nice tea recipes:  4 Herbal Teas for Autumn and Winter
.

Many medicinal teas are made from herbs which are easy to grow.  Most herbs are perennials which come back year after year.

For other teas you can make from your garden, Make your own teas from garden grown herbs

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Quick tip-using dried beans



Saturday, December 8, 2018

You can grow and dry your own beans or buy them.  Dried beans are significantly less expensive than canned beans and you don’t have to worry about BPA from can linings (Eden Foods has BPA free canned beans).  

It takes some planning to use dried beans.  I take them out the night before and put them in a bowl of water to soak.  Use 4 cups of water to 1 cup of beans; the beans will absorb significant amounts of water.  Then, drain, rinse, and cover with water in a pot and cook for 20 minutes at a boil.

They are ready now ready to use in your favorite recipe!

Growing your own beans let you try heirloom and unique varieties.  For how to grow this easy crop, Growing beans

Saturday, December 1, 2018

American grown and made olive oil

Ojai olive farm
Saturday, December 1, 2018

When we did a tasting of the local olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the Pasadena farmers market a few years back, we got a flyer from the grower/producer Ojai Olive Oil that showed the company had tours and tastings on site so we went.  I was back in Cali and wanted to go see them again.  We called because of the fires in the area and they were open.  The fire had gone all around them, but spared the farm.


When we arrived, they were actually cold pressing olives.  We had to do the tasting of all their oils and balsamic vinegars (19 in total) again.  All of their olive oils are extra virgin, cold pressed. Their balsamic vinegars are from Modena, Italy, and are fabulous.  It is hard to narrow down which ones to take home!
It was interesting tasting the different olive oils.  I had no idea that one could taste differently than another.  You can tell the difference when you taste them side by side.  The first thing that sets them apart is the type of olive tree the olives are from.  At Ojai Olive Oil, the French olive oil was very mild, the Italian stronger, and the Spanish olives were very peppery.  The flavor varies each season as well as the level of phenols.

The strong, peppery type is great over pasta or for dipping your bread in.  My favorite dipping oil is made in a saucer.  Super easy and very tasty.  It is a great alternative to garlic cheese bread.  Here is how I make it:
Olive oil in bottom of saucer
Balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon or two
Parmesan cheese, a tablespoon or two
Cracked pepper or herbs sprinkled on top
You could easily use the flavored oils in this as well.  Using their garlic oil would be like have garlic bread.

I have found a great little recipe for low carb bread that is super easy to make.  Here are the instructions for the bread:
1 and half tablespoons of melted butter in a small microwaveable dish
Mix in 3 tablespoons almond flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1 large egg.  I add herbs for extra flavor.  Microwave on high for 90 seconds.  Slice and serve.  Yum!
All of the olive oils produced at the farm are extra virgin, cold pressed.  They also had flavored olive oils-lemon, mandarin, garlic, rosemary, and basil that they produce themselves.  All would be fabulous to add to dishes or for unique salad dressings.
The balsamic vinegar varieties are all from Italy.  Only vinegars produced in the traditional way from the region of Modena can be legally called balsamic vinegar.  The varieties they had were-traditional style, premium white, cinnamon-pear, tangerine, pomegranate, blackberry-ginger, peach, fig, blackberry, raspberry.  The last time I bought the violet for salads and the blackberry-ginger for my sister.  This time I purchased the peach.  The vinegars really do taste just like the flavorings.  They are fabulous.

I had also purchased their face cream last time and did again this time.  It feels wonderful on the skin and smells great.  I also chose two lip balms, a Mandarine orange and Thai coconut.
The press
The tour was very interesting.  The grower had started the olive farm 18 years ago on the site of some century old olive trees.  His olive trees were a graft of a hardy southern Italian trees as the rooting stock with the better tasting olive types grafted to the hardy root stock.  He shared that the graft had a very slight flavor of the more bitter root stock.  99% of the flavor came from the top graft plant.  The oils were fantastic.

The color of the olive comes from the ripeness and type.  All olives when young are green.  Depending on the type as they ripen, they can turn blue or reddish.  Fully ripe olives are black.  The closer they are to fully ripe, the sweeter the oil.  The trees begin blooming in May and harvest is from November to January. 


The press itself is direct from Italy.  They only press olives about 10 days out of the year.  We were lucky enough to be there when the press was running!  We got to taste the oil coming right off the press.  Fresh olive oil has a grassy flavor with a bite.  The bite is all those great antioxidants.  Always look at the harvest date of any olive oil that you purchase to get the freshest.


Hand picked olives being hand fed into the press

The material left from the press is used as a mulch in their organic orange grove to help keep down the weeds.  It is very acidic so it is only used in the center of the row of oranges and not in the olive grove.  In some countries, the dried pulp is used to burn for heat.  The grower uses the clippings from the trees as a mulch and to provide nutrients to the olive trees.

The olive trees require pollination from bees for the highest yields.  If you are growing your own olive tree indoors, you'll need to pollinate the flowers by hand.


Freshly pressed oil
In the US, we consume 8% of the world’s olive oil and produce only 0.1%.  The vast majority of the olive oil we consume is imported from Italy.  Most of the Italian olive oil we import is a blend of many types of olives.  When you purchase olive oil from Ojai Olive Oil, you are getting a pure, extra virgin oil as well as buying an American made product direct from the farmer.  

For more info on the Ojai ranch:
Ojai Olive Ranch

Sunday, November 25, 2018

December 2018 Edible Garden Planner

Early December garden; chard in the foreground, herbs in the background
Sunday, November 25, 2018

December is a time of digging in and staying warm.  It may appear that everything is dead outside, but there is still life in the garden.  In the beds, kale, cabbage, salad burnet, sorrel, rosemary, oregano, garlic, onions, lettuce, leeks, chard, dill, celery, sage, carrots, spinach are all still green in December.

Fresh herbs are just steps away from the back door.  Most Mediterranean herbs are perennials so you get to enjoy them almost year round.  You can also grow many herbs indoors as well like chives, oregano, rosemary, parsley, chervil, and basil.  Rosemary and bay are two to dig up and bring indoors to guarantee survival through the winter.  Just place your potted herbs in a sunny window.  I keep my bay in pots and bring into the garage for the winter.  
If you are using a greenhouse, your kale, celery, mustard, lettuce, chard, spinach, cabbage, sprouting broccoli are still happy under cover.  They will not grow much until sunlight gets back to 10 hours per day in late January.  Be sure on sunny, warm days to pop the top on your greenhouse or you will scorch your greens.  It can get 50 degrees warmer inside a greenhouse on a sunny day than the actual temperature outside.  
Cultivated dandelion in a pot
All cold crops are at their sweetest during the cold weather.  Frost brings out the sugars in cold crops.  Hardy greens like chard, kale, spinach, mustard greens, cultivated dandelion greens, and collard greens make great salads and are tasty steamed or braised.

Make sure if you have any potted veggies to put them on the ground if they are on coasters and move them to a sheltered area on the south side of the house to extend their growing time.  Placing straw bales around them or mounding mulch provides extra protection.  I also move them up against the wall.  This does double duty-southern exposure gets the most sun and warmth.  Pots left exposed creates a micro climate that is a zone lower than the ones planted in the ground.  If you are in Zone 6, be sure that plants left in pots are hardy to at least Zone 5 if you want them to come back in the spring.  If they are not, put under cover or bring into the garage for the winter.

Veggies like your favorite tomato, pepper, eggplant, or celery that you potted and moved indoors will continue to produce indoors if provided warmth and enough sunlight.  My Chiptelin pepper is one I bring in every year.  I also bring in lemon verbena, lemon grass, citrus, bay and goji berry plants for overwintering in our attached, unheated garage.  We place them in the sunniest spot in the garage and supplement with 4 foot fluorescent grow lights.
Chives in front, sage and rosemary in back
The Fresh Produce Buying Local Option
You can check on line to see if you have a farmers market in your area.  Many have farmers markets year round where you can get fresh produce, canned, baked goods, eggs and meats locally grown.  Many that aren't open regularly will have hours before Christmas so you can get fresh, local ingredients for your holiday meal.  A great place for finding what is near you is the on-line resource www.localharvest.org

CSA
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  It is where you invest in a local farmer in January when they have to purchase their seeds and supplies for the upcoming gardening season.  You then get a weekly share of the farmers harvest typically from May through October.  There are even some winter CSA's now!

Before I started our own edible garden, we joined a CSA.  It was great.  We got lots of super fresh produce, our weekly grocery bill was significantly reduced as our meals were planned around the vegetables, and it was an adventure getting to try new recipes with veggies we had never ate before.   
Eat well, be healthy

A CSA shows you what grows well in your area.  You can find out the varieties you like and when they come into season.  You can even save the seeds from the varieties that you want to grow in your future garden if you partner with an organic CSA that grows open pollinated and heirloom vegetables and fruits.
What do the terms GMO, natural, heirloom, organic, hybrid really mean?

To advertise as “organic” you have to be certified.  Many farmers cannot afford to do this.  Some farmers participate in the "Certified Naturally Grown" program.  This is less expensive than USDA organic, but also relies on inspections by other CNG farmers, non-CNG farmers, extension agents, master gardeners and customers instead of USDA certified agents.  If you are interested in produce grown without pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals, ask if the farmer uses organic practices.  Go visit them to see the garden for yourself before you commit.  You can also check out reviews on line. 

Where to find a CSA?  Again, a great resource is the web site at www.localharvest,org 

Many sell out by January so don’t delay if you want to join!

Preserving the harvest
It is easy to store winter squash in your pantry to pull out anytime.  We have eaten butternut squash from the garden all the way into June of the following year.  21 no tech storage crops

If you put garlic in your pantry and some have dried out, make garlic powder.  Just process the dried garlic in a coffee or spice grinder.  Now you have great flavor to add to burgers, sauces, or steaks. Quick tip-make dried garlic into garlic powder 

I take the herbs I had drying in paper bags and remove all leafs.  I store my herbs in quart canning jars.  I mix them all together for a homemade “Herbes de Provence”.  Make your own "Herbes de Provence"  I use it on everything!  It is great in sauces, on meats, in dressings.  

Tarragon, thyme, sage, rosemary and chives
If you threw your extra tomatoes into the freezer and are now thinking it would be nice to have tomato sauce, canning tomato sauce is simple and easy to do.  I use Weck’s canning jars.  They are all glass so no worries about what is lining the lid.  And they are a really pretty shape.  Easy, low tox canning of summer's bounty

All you need to can tomato sauce is a large pot, canning jars, a funnel, and canning tongs.  A pressure canner is not needed for acidic foods like tomatoes.  Always follow the recipe as written to insure food safety.  If the food is not acidic enough, it can allow botulism to grow.

I throw the entire tomato (de-stemmed) into the food processor.  Most recipes say to remove the peel and seeds so you don’t have a bitter taste, but I have not noticed any issue with bitterness.

Here is the recipe from Ball’s “Complete Book of Home Preserving” for tomato paste:
9 cups of pureed tomatoes, 1½ cups of chopped sweet bell peppers, 2 bay leaves, 1 teas salt, 1 clove of garlic.

I put it all into a large pot and let simmer until it is the consistency and taste I like, about 2.5 hours.  Remove the bay leaves and garlic.  Boil the jars, lids, and seals as the sauce is close to done.

Add 3 teas of lemon juice to each hot pint jar, fill with the hot tomato sauce to within ½ inch of the top, and seal the lid, following the instructions for the type of jar you are using.  Place all the filled jars in a large pot, insuring they are fully covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 45 minutes.  Be sure that the pot is at a steady boil for the entire 45 minutes.  Remove from canner.  Let cool for 24 hours.  Remove the ring and test the seal after the jar is completely cool by gently lifting the jar by the lid.  It should not lift off.  That’s it!  

Other high acid foods you can using a water bath are jams, jellies, condiments, salsas, pickles, and relishes.  Consult with a canning book for more tips and always follow the recipe exactly as written to insure the right acidity for safe canning.

Winter is time to savor the fresh herbs from the garden along with what you have preserved, browsing for canning ideas, and planning next year's garden.  A potential Christmas meal using what is growing in the garden in December, Jazz up the Christmas feast with herbs from the garden

I use Christmas break as the time to finalize my garden plan for the spring.  I look back on my notes from last year's edible garden and this year's seed catalogs to decide what new varieties to add to my standbys.

For tips on choosing seed catalogs:  New seed catalogs are here! 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Edible garden bed winter prep


Sunday, November 24, 2018

There are good things to do for your garden when winter is on the horizon to keep your garden bed healthy and ready for spring.  Winter prep includes soil sampling, fertilizing, cleaning the plants from the garden and give your cold crops a coat to protect them all winter!

Tidy Beds & Compost
It is time to clean up your edible garden to prepare it for the long cold season.  You can compost any that were disease free, but dispose af any diseased plants in the garbage.  Only high sustained temperatures will destroy the spores and it is not worth the risk of spreading disease into next year’s garden.  We had issues with some pests this season, so all the plant material is going to be cleaned out and disposed of.

Garden Beds & Soil Sampling
Now is the time to lay out any expansion you want to do in your garden beds.  Using a hose to outline the new beds is a great way to envision how they will look.  You can simply cover with card board to kill the grass over the winter.  I like to cover with cardboard, add a layer of compost and fertilizer, then top with mulch.  Letting the bed lay over the winter will allow the fertilizer to seep into the soil so it is ready to plant come spring.  Take a soil sample from your new bed(s) and existing beds to take it in to your conservation office or mail in to a soil analysis service.  The results will tell you exactly what your soil needs for amendments.
Late fall is a great time to go ahead and do soil sampling for your existing beds.  With the results in hand, you can do the amendments of minerals your garden bed needs so they will be completely into the soil by spring so your plants have all the food they need to have a strong start.  Be sure to work into the soil.  Adding mulch gives the garden bed extra cover to keep herbs and cold crops like lettuce, chard, cabbage, spinach warmer so they produce longer.
Protective Cover of Winter Crops
This is the time of year to put a coat over your potted plants left outdoors planted with cold crops.  The best place to locate your plants and greenhouse is close to protection and on the south side of the house in full sun.  Putting the greenhouse against the house will help keep the temperatures warmer for your plants.
Larger portable greenhouse

I have two mini portable greenhouses that I cover my pots and Earthoxes that contain kale, celery, French dandelion, spinach, lettuce, blood veined sorrel, garden purslane, carrots, and corn salad.  To add more protection, you can put inside the greenhouse along the outside edge, gallon jugs filled with water and spray painted black.  These will help moderate the temperature inside the greenhouse.

The biggest risk with a greenhouse?  Overheating!  The sun’s rays are quite hot on a cloudless day.  I open the vent on my greenhouse when it is sunny and in the 30’s.  I will unzip the front door flap when it gets into the 40’s.   In the 50’s, the cold crops really don’t need any protection.

Save Seeds
I am going to do a tour of the garden and save seeds from any flowers or veggies that I want to grow next season.  On my hit list is the green beans I left on the vine to keep for seed, flower seeds from the marigolds, hummingbird vine, moon flower vine, and zinnias, and any of the really nice summer vegetable specimens.  It is good to save the best of the best for seed as these parents will give you the characteristics you want in your veggies for next year's garden.

Tool Care
Now is the time to take care of your tools to get them ready and stored for next season.  Sharpen your garden knives, scissors, shovels, and hoes.  Lightly oil all needed to protect from rust and keep working smoothly.  Make a list of any additions you want for your tool collection so you can research and purchase over the winter.

Winter Cover Crops
If you have an un-mulched garden bed, winter cover crops are a great way to protect the soil, keep it from washing and add nutrients your garden needs.

Summarize & Plan for Next Year's Garden
Now is the time to write down all you liked about the garden to you can repeat it for next season as well as what didn't go so well.  You can use the winter season to research solutions to the improvements you want to make on your garden for next year.

I like to look back through all my garden notes for the season and capture the varieties I want to be sure to have in the garden for next year as well as any new ones I want to try. 

For instance, I have been trying different varieties of paste tomatoes so that I keep paste tomatoes in sync with the other tomatoes.  I like to put paste tomatoes in every freezer bag I store for next year's salsa and sauces.  I continue to experiment with black tomatoes to see which are the most prolific in our garden.

I experimented for years to find the most prolific sweet peppers for our garden.  I now save the seed from the best producers of the plants to start next season. 

For eggplant, I found two varieties that did great in our heat and humidity without getting bitter.  I'll definitely plant these again next year.

The cucumber varieties I tried this summer did really well.  The Jaune Dickfleishige did too well.  They were huge and prolific.  I think I will stick with a small white, yellow and green type for next year's garden.  

Our zucchini got ate by the ground hog this year.  The plants themselves were healthy so will stick with Early Prolific Straight Neck and the Cocozelle Zucchini for next season.

All the green bean varieties did great this year.  I will stick with them for next year's garden, a purple and green Romano vine type.  Maybe I'll try a yellow one next season for fun color..  Legumes-peas for spring, beans for summer

Spring lettuce-I really liked the Red Romaine and Red Sails lettuce.  They stayed a long time before bolting.  I also like the oak leaf lettuces and Grand Rapids varieties.  I'll have all of these in the garden next year.  I saved seeds from the varieties that did well so I can sprinkle and go come spring!  I think the easiest way to get them going is to thickly sprinkle the seeds in a pot, then transplant to other pots or the garden bed to grow to maturity.

I'll absolutely do the Cardinal Basil and traditional sweet basil.  I like the Cardinal Basil because it's flowers is just so pretty.  The sweet basil for making pesto.

My husband loves zinnias and marigolds.  I'll start these from seed I save now to grow again next year.  Flowers add not only beauty but attract pollinators.  These little hard working gardener assistants significantly boost your garden fruit production like tomatoes, peppers, beans and eggplants.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Crop rotation made easy for small gardens



Sunday, November 19, 2018

Smart rotating of your vegetables can break the pest and disease cycle while at the same time utilizing the nutrients that the previous season’s vegetables left behind.  Studies have shown that your harvest increases by 10-25% with smart crop rotation.

Most have heard that crop rotation is important for your vegetables.  This is for a variety of reasons.  Many pests are specific to a vegetable type so when they overwinter and come up hungry, their favorite meal is nowhere to be found.  Different vegetables take different nutrients out of the ground while others give back nutrients.  Diseases are also many times specific to certain vegetables.

The traditional crop rotations I have seen had your crops divided into 8 groups.  For small gardens, this is unmanageable; just too complicated for the space.  Recently, I have read about crop rotations on a simpler scale that make a lot of sense.  

Divide your garden, or pots, into these 4 groups:
Group 1-Legumes (beans and peas).  The soil builders are beans and peas because of the nitrogen they add to the soil. 
 Legumes-peas for spring, beans for summer
Group 2-Leaf Plants-the ones you eat the leaves of like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.  These need high amounts of nitrogen. 
 Growing fabulous lettuce and greens
How to grow broccoli and cauliflower
Cabbage is nutritious and easy to grow
Group 3-Fruiting plants like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, squash, potatoes (part of the tomato family) and cucumbers.  These need high amounts of phosphorous for fruiting.
Group 4-Root plants like garlic, onions, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, sweet potatoes.  They are great for loosening the soil. These need high amounts of potassium.
Perennial onions and other alliums
All about beautiful beets 
All you need to know about growing carrots 
All about turnips
Easy to grow crispy, peppery radishes

By keeping the groups together, you can boost nutrient addition to the soil that each group needs without negatively affecting the production of the others.  For instance, the leafy group needs lots of nitrogen, but if you give large amounts of nitrogen to the fruiting plants, they will produce lots of greenery and no fruit.

Mark down on a piece of paper where you planted each group.  Next year, just rotate them around with Group 2 going into Group 1’s spot, Group 3 going into Group 2’s spot, etc.  Just keep moving them in that order each year and write it down each year so you don’t forget!

This applies to your pots as well.  Make sure you rotate the vegetable you put in each of your pots.  I keep my vegetable marker in my pots from the previous year so in the spring, I know exactly what I grew in the pot the previous year.

Don’t worry if you can’t keep them all exactly in these 4 groups.  Just make sure you don’t have the same type of plant going into the same spot or pot every year.  Interplant with companion plants to keep each strong if you don’t have the space to do full blown crop rotation.  If using pots, be sure to to revitalize your potting soil each season to keep your veggies going strong year after year.
Re-energize your potting soil!

Just add your other veggies in with one of the other groups to balance out the area each uses in the garden so you can just move the whole group from one section of the garden to the next easily.