Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Crop Rotation

It is a mystery to many a new gardener but the art of crop rotation is the art of a sensible gardener. You may have planted the same vegetables in the same bed for years and never had any trouble, and then again, this year you may have discovered that favourite courgette of your's didn't seem to do so well and succumbed to mysterious diseases that you never had time to identify. With these few helpful steps and nudges you can lessen the build up of bugs and disease in your soil with some careful planning now.





All vegetables are broken down into groups, these are:
  1. Brassicas, which include Brussels sprouts, cabbage (winter and summer), cauliflower, kale, radish, brocoli, greens,  swede and turnips. They also include the likes of kohl-rabi and oriental greens such as Pak Choi. All these cultivars fall into the family of Brassica oleracea.
  2. Legumes, which include the many varieties of pea, broad beans, French beans, Runner beans and Borlotti beans. Beans belong to the Fabaceae (Leguminosae) family.
  3. Onions include maincrop and pickling onions, garlic, shallot, leek, chives, welsh onions and spring onion. They belong to the Allium family.
  4. Potato include all potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. They all comes from the Solanaceae family, which includes the deadly nightshade. This just shows you how highly poisonous this family can be and never eat any potatoes that have been exposed the light and never eat any of the haulms.
  5. Roots and fancies. Beetroot, carrot, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, parsley, parsnip and all other root crops. Courgettes and pumpkins. This is a wide and diverse family and the fancies are the courgettes!
You have two choices for rotation, a three year model or a four year model. We will start with the three year and then move to four. Each year, retain the same numbered beds (1, 2 and 3) but move the corresponding crop to those beds.


Year one
Bed 1: Potatoes
Bed 2: Legumes, onions, roots and fancies
Bed 3: Brassicas

Year two
Bed 1: Legumes, onions, roots and fancies
Bed 2: Brassicas
Bed 3: Potatoes

Year three
Bed 1: Brassicas 
Bed 2: Potatoes
Bed 3: Legumes, onions, roots and fancies

You can follow potatoes with green manures, these can be green mustard or rye. We use phacelia on Pig Row as it attracts bees in droves. If you go for the four year model (you will have four beds instead of three), which is the model we use at Pig Row, then you will do it as followed:

Year one
Bed 1: Legumes
Bed 2: Brassicas
Bed 3: Potatoes
Bed 4: Onions, roots and fancies

Year two
Bed 1: Brassicas
Bed 2: Potatoes
Bed 3: Onions, roots and fancies
Bed 4: Legumes

Year three
Bed 1: Potatoes
Bed 2: Onions, roots and fancies
Bed 3: Legumes
Bed 4: Brassicas

Year four
Bed 1: Onions, roots and fancies
Bed 2: Legumes
Bed 3: Brassicas
Bed 4: Potatoes

Don't forget that compost is the key to a good garden but we will save that for another day.
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