Saturday, 7 May 2011
VEGETABLE CROP ROTATION
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In order to keep your vegetables healthy and to ensure a good crop you will need to rotate the beds in which your annual vegetables are planted. This is because the numbers of pest and diseases within the soil increase every year, to the detriment of your vegetable crop. Each year the yield will be less and your plants are more likely to suffer from pest and diseases.
In addition, rotating your crops helps to optimise the level of nutrients within your soils. If you plant one type of vegetable only in plot of soil year after year then the soil will show decreasing levels of available nutrients. However, if you rotate your vegetables then you can ensure that the successive years vegetables have contributed to healthy soil nutrient level for this seasons crops. Perennial vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb should be planted in permanent beds and not be part of the crop rotation system.
There are many different types of vegetable rotation, based on a three, four, five, six, seven or even eight year cycle depending on what crops you are producing. However, the system below is a simple system that I have used successfully in the past in my garden that occurs over three years and seems ideal for garden or allotment use.
For the purpose of crop rotation vegetables are grouped together according to their growing requirements. These categories are:
Roots - beetroot, carrot, chicory, artichoke, parsnip, potato, salisfy
Brassicas - broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, kohl rabi, radish, swede, turnip
Others - aubergine, bean, celeriac, celery, cucumber, endive, leek, lettuce, marrow, onion, pea, spinach, sweet corn, tomato
The crop rotation system is based on a three year cycle. Divide your vegetable patch into three distinct areas, and ensure that you move your vegetable groups each year to the adjacent area.
Three year rotation cycle
Year 1 - Roots, Brassicas, Others
Year 2 - Others, Roots, Brassicas
Year 3 - Brassicas, Others, Roots
Each group of vegetables has specific needs that differ from each other, so you will need to prepare the ground differently in each area. They are grouped together in families that have similar growing requirements.
Roots do not require manure to be dug into the soil, as this will make the vegetables fork and split. They do not require lime either. Potatoes can be affected by scab if the soil is limey. Incorporate a general purpose fertiliser 2 weeks prior to planting.
Brassicas require alkaline soil so add some lime to the soil at manufacturers recommended rates. Incorporate a general purpose fertiliser 2 weeks prior to planting. You may also wish to add farm yard manure at this time if there is little in the soil.
Others require high levels of nutrients so dig plenty of well rotted manure or compost into the bed. Only add lime if the soil is acidic. Incorporate a general purpose fertiliser 2 weeks prior to planting.
For related articles click onto:
Differences between vegetables and fruit
Green manure: Broad beans
How do I attract bees into my garden?
How to build a cold frame
How to grow french beans from seed
How to Grow Pumpkins from Seed
How to grow runner beans from seed
How to grow seeds indoors
How to grow strawberries from seed
How to grow tomatoes from seed
How to make compost