[Snakeroot Organic Farm logo]
 • What's New Here
 • Snakeroot Poultry

 • About Our Farm
 • Annual Farm Tour
 • Community Supported
    Agriculture Plan (CSA)
Directions to our Farm
 • From a Run Out Hayfield to
    a Prosperous Organic Farm
    in Ten Easy Years

 • Get Real. Get Organic!
 • History of Our Farm
 • Pictures of the Farm
 • Where We Buy
 • Where We Sell
 • Our Yearly Work Schedule
 • Just Pretty
 • Subscribe to our e-newsletter.
 • Newsletter Archive.
 • What We Will & Won't Ship

 • Working Here
 • Our Apprentices
 • Our Farm Workers
 • Pictures of Us at Market

 • Fresh Vegetables
 • Fresh Fruit
 • Fresh Herbs
 • Perennials
 • Aloe - a magical plant
 • Our Bird Houses
 • Lupines
 • Rosemary Plants
 • Lovage, Tansy & Yarrow
 • Our Product Brochures
 • Dried Vegetables
 • Dried Culinary Herbs
 • Maple Syrup
 • Maple Syrup, p.2
 • Sugarin' Is Like Ice Fishin'
 • Our New Sugarhouse
 • Tomato Seedlings
 • Tomato Seeds We Offer
 • Tomato Seed Production
 • Paste Tomatoes
 • About Garlic
 • Garlic for Sale
 • Garlic Year Round
 • Mulching Garlic
 • Growing Rounds from Bulbils
 • Whole Bulbil Cluster Method
 • Planting Garlic

 • Using Mulches
 • Combatting Quackgrass
    with Mulch

 • We Want Your Leaves!
 • In Praise of Chips

 • Buying in Bulk for
    Storage, Canning & Freezing

 • Winter Storage Tips
 • How to Freeze Our Veggies
 • Building Techniques
 • Our Outbuildings
 • Evolution of the Farm Table
 • The Story of Our Cooler
 • Prepping Veggies for Market
 • Crop Rotations
 • Drip Irrigation
 • Low Pressure Water
 • Planting with Spreadsheets
 • Greenhouse Vegetable

 • Let-tuce Begin
 • Recipe Favorites
 • Our "Remay Roller"
 • Gardening Class Notes
 • Your Most Expensive Crop

 • Being Green
 • Digging Potatoes by Hand
 • Farmers' Markets in 2012
 • History of Pittsfield
 • Hybrids or Open Pollinated?
 • Making Websites
 • Open Source Software

    Our Retirement Plan
 • How Should a Farmer Retire?
 • Impediments to the want-to-be     farmer
 • Reducing the Value
    of the Land

 • Who Will Farm Here When
    We're Gone?

 • Apprentice Terms and Stages
 • From Apprentices to Partners
 • Transferring Farm Ownership

…and now for something completely different…

At dawn
Canoe bow waves are quickly lost
    on the shoreside
But go on out of sight
    on the lake side.


The constant swish-swish of skis
    On a day long ski.
The constant swish-swish of wiper blades
    On a day long drive.


My dog, trotting barefoot
Steps on a garden slug
And thinks
Nothing of it.


Word spreads quickly
as I approach the pond.
All becomes quiet.


Hidden in the vines
a large warted cucumber
jumps out of reach.
A toad!


Delicate puffs
of marshmallow snow
carefully perched
on a branch,
await the trigger of my hat
to melt their way down my back.

Deep in the tomato jungle
Fruits of yellow, purple and red
Tell of their readiness
To go to market.

Sugarin' Chores
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow with spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
And Spring.


Crop Rotations
Snakeroot Organic Farm

“Crop rotation” is a basic agricultural practice where each crop is planted in a different location from year to year. Its purpose is to lessen pest and disease buildup and to give each crop fresh ground to grow on each year where a crop in that family has not grown for several years. Depending upon the amount of each crop grown, each block in the rotation is made up of either a single crop or a group of biologically related crops, or in some instances those crops which are managed similarly and are not otherwise related.

One of the difficulties we faced was that our gardens are of all different sizes, and as a result it took some time to develop a rotation plan with roughly equal plots.

Another problem is that for each of the crops we grow the amount is not static from year to year. We are constantly discovering that we should be growing more of one veggie, or less of another. Any change in the amount of space we allot for a veggie needs to be able to fit into one of our rotations. Additionally, for the past 15 years, we have been adding new fields into the mix. We now have eight plots of roughly 17,000 sq.ft. on the old side of the farm, some of the plots made up of several separate gardens. The new side of the farm has four half-acre plots.

These rotation plans involve the abstracted placement of the crops, without any direct connection to what field they will actually be planted in for any particular year. Considerations for developing the rotation successions include what kind of management will we give the crop in Year 1 and how that will affect management of the Year 2 crop, and so forth for each year. For example, tomatoes are mulched heavily and are followed by garlic and onions which are also mulched heavily. This results in a high organic matter soil and low weed population field in Year 3, which is very beneficial for small seeded drops like the Roots & Leaves. Since Roots & Leaves may leave the field weedy, we grow a PVO cover crop in Year 4, which leaves a high organic matter relatively weed free plot for Year 1. So our tomato rotation is very effective at eliminating weeds.

Another trick we use is to move around our two four-year rotation groupings among our eight fields. For example, since the first two years of the tomato rotation is very effective at combatting weeds, if we notice one of our fields is getting too weedy, we'll start the tomato rotation in that field.

Assumptions include that each rotation block is roughly equal in size to every other, because they will eventually have to be assigned to an actual field plot. This has to be reconciled with how much of each crop we want to grow and have a market for.


  1. Because of the great diversity of our crops, we have three separate field rotation groups. The Squash rotation is on the new side of the farm, which has four half-acre plots.

  2. Since all the the blocks within each rotation need to be approximately the same size, we often group several similar minor crops together to match the space taken by the major crops.

  3. Sometimes whole rotation blocks are rotated with other rotation blocks of the same size, such as when a field is moved from the Roots & Leaves Rotation into the Tomato Rotation.

  4. We include notes in the rotation blocks below to indicate some of the important considerations determining why that crop is in that position in the rotation.

  5. “Roots & Leaves” is a catch-all grouping for any or all of: Chard, Kale, Celery, Celeriac, Beet Greens, Spinach, Lettuce, Basil, Spicy Greens, Carrots, Parsnips, Bok Choi, Broccoli, Cabbage. Many of these crops appear in more than one rotation group.

  6. In the Roots & Leaves rotation, we groups several crops together because they are full-season crops; they get planted from late April to late May, and remain in place the entire season: celery*, celeriac*, Brussels sprouts*, parsnips, rutabagas, chard, kale and lupines. Those crops with a * are mulched with young hay.

  7. All of the greenhouse crops are preceeded by carrots, lettuce, spicy greens, spinach, radishes, beet greens or summer turnips, which are planted during the winter months.

  8. The greenhouse rotation is somewhat skewed toward the tomato/pepper family since there are so few veggies we have to choose from that benefit from early and/or late season extension in a greenhouse. We have tried pole beans and bush beans, but were disappointed with their yield potential.

  9. All of our crops, except the perennials, are in a rotation plan. Short-lived perennials, such as the woody culinary herbs, are also rotated as a block every four to five years into a field that was formerly annuals. This helps to deal with the perennials weeds that invade perennial plots over time.

  10. Certain crops come out early and are followed by another crop. Successions within a single rotation year are indicated like this: FirstCrop⇒SecondCrop (that is, FirstCrop is followed by SecondCrop).

Name Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4

¼ acre ea.
Garlic (planted late in Year 1), Onions, Shallots
all mulched
Roots & Leaves
small seeded crops
poor competitors
Cukes & Summer Squash
vigorous transplants
good competitors

½ acre ea.
Winter Squash
like old Squash mulch
Beans & Peas
Peas, Vetch, Oats mix
Roots & Leaves
¼ acre ea.
Roots & Leaves
succession crops
Beet Greens, Lettuce, Spicy Greens, Basil, Dill, Cilantro, Carrots, Scallions
Roots & Leaves
full season crops
Leeks, Chard, Kale, Parsley, Parsnips, Lupine, Celery, Celeriac
Roots & Leaves
succession crops
Cover Crop
PVO or Oats⇒BW⇒BW⇒Oats

2,000 sq. ft. ea.
Carrots⇒Tomatoes Lettuce, Spicy Greens, Turnips⇒Cucumbers⇒Chard Beet Greens⇒Cherry Tomatoes Spinach, Radishes⇒Peppers

27 Organic Farm Road, Pittsfield Maine 04967
owned and operated by
Tom Roberts & Lois Labbe
Tom: Tom@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5417
Lois: Lois@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5418

Gardening for the public since 1995.

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