Step 1 - Adding a crop & crop details

Go to the crops page and click + Crop, enter a crop name and a few details, and then you can go to step 2. Learn more about adding crop details here or watch the video below. 

Already have a pretty complete crop plan in spreadsheet form? Try importing it, learn more about crop plan import here. The following videos are still useful for learning how to work with your crop plan in VeggieCropper.

This video will be updated shortly, the features are all there, the pencil to edit crop details is now on the individual crop page.

Crop details require careful scrutiny despite feeling routine. Many crops can be grown as transplants or directly seeded and it is easy to assume business as usual. But careful consideration of each crop and how it is grown is well worth it. 

How can each crop fit with other similar crops so that the farm becomes more and more streamlined with fewer and fewer 'production families'? If a crop requires too much unique attention, it needs some really redeeming qualities or it will be best retired in the name of profitability and sustainability. 

Next: Step 2 - Creating plantings

Pro Tips:

Create planting blocks for high value high succession crops
Consider the crops you plant weekly, how can you create a block with all of these weekly plantings, so you can plant and manage that block at once? Consider adjusting planting lengths to fill partial beds and fit a similar production family (more on that below) as the other crops in that bed. When it comes to mapping your plantings you can also walk this group of plantings across the field as a group of weekly DS and TP plantings.

Simplify Simplify Simplify - try production families
There is a careful balance between leveraging the benefits of crop diversity and avoiding the pitfalls of inefficiency. Whether a crop is transplanted, direct-seeded and its spacing have everything to do with efficiency. Try to standardize all aspects of production for each of your crops by categorizing them as production families, examples:

  • 3 row transplanted - mulched - drip irrigation
  • 3 row transplanted - open soil - overhead irrigation
  • 3 row transplanted - open soil - drip irrigation
  • 1 row transplanted - mulched
  • 3 row direct-seeded - open soil

Each production family has its own set of considerations. If you have a production family with only one or two crops in it, those are great candidates to drop OR change the production methods to fit with another production family. Consider turning a direct seed crop into a transplant crop, or a two-row crop into a three-row crop. The fewer the families means exponentially fewer logistics and will help leverage equipment/tooling investments with more use for each piece of equipment/tooling and less of it overall.

To transplant or not to transplant - that is the question
Consider transplanting more crops to reduce weeding costs and the time it takes to get the crop to market.  The additional time and effort to manage and plant the seedling can likely pay off against the costs of managing weeds and the benefits of adding weeks to sell that crop at your market by getting it there earlier and keeping it there longer.

Row spacing is everything
Consider standardizing row spacing to as few spacings as possible for the whole farm. This could reveal an opportunity to use mechanized weed control, or more geotextile fabric and lead to big-time cost savings that far exceed the benefits of different row spacings. In row spacing is key as well and yields similar efficiencies further down the production line. Larger plantings and high value crops can justify unique treatment if the reward is there. Overall, it is best to avoid making exceptions and enjoy the new simplicity you created for yourself throughout the season. 

Plastic generally wins economically (and physically)
Plastic isn't great environmentally but it is important to recognize the cost and that customers may not want to pay the increased labour cost directly or indirectly. More importantly, the long-term mental and physical sustainability of the growers needs to be weighed against economic sustainability. Mulch and tarps can also be approached as a bandaid solution to healing the soil and used strategically to fight really weedy fields or when other weed management strategies haven't worked out. Everyone has a line to draw on the types of inputs they use and everyone knows plastic isn't great. The labour savings of geotextile fabric and tarps weighed against the overall sustainability of the farm from a labour and economic perspective is an important consideration, especially for newer farms on rougher land with tighter bottom lines and lower margins for error.