Thursday, 25 January 2018

Crop Rotation for Vegetable Growing

It's now that time of year that vegetable growers need to think seriously about what to grow this year and where to grow it. Gardeners spend a lot of time getting the soil in prime condition but this can all be wrecked by bad plant placement. If you've grown your broccoli in a certain spot last year then it's best to plant it in a different spot this year. This applies to all vegetables and families of vegetables. This is because if you plant the same crop in the same spot each year a build up of pests and diseases can occur. Continued planting of the same crop will also rob the soil of its nutrients required for that crop. Crop rotation can seem quite complicated at first but by working out a four year rotation plan you can stick to that for years to come.

Vegetable crops can be divided into five families. The simple way to plan is to divide your crops into the five families.

Brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, kale, radish, spinach, chard, broccoli, swede and turnips.

Legumes: peas, broad beans, French and runner beans.

Potatoes: also include tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, sweetcorn, courgette, squash and pumpkins.

Onions: also including garlic, shallots and leeks.

Roots: beetroot, carrots, fennel, parsley, radish, sweet potatoes, celery and parsnips.

Dividing your patch into five may be a little tricky especially if you have a square patch. The good news is that some crops make good companion plants for others. For example when growing carrots a big pest is carrot fly but the smell of nearby onions, garlic, shallots and leeks can ward it off. By putting onions and roots together a far more manageable four plot system can be worked out. Some people like to do this in four square beds while others go for planting in strips. However is best for you here's four crop rotation system you can keep using year after year.

Year one

Bed one: Brassicas
Bed two: Onions and roots
Bed three: Potatoes
Bed four: Legumes

Year two

Bed one: Legumes
Bed two: Brassicas
Bed three: Onions and roots
Bed four: Potatoes

Year Three

Bed one: Potatoes
Bed two: Legumes
Bed three: Brassicas
Bed four: Onions and roots

Year Four

Bed one: Onions and roots
Bed two: Potatoes
Bed three: Legumes
Bed four: Brassicas

How do you plan your planting? Do you have a crop rotation system?

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