Crop Rotation – enough to make your head spin!

Crop rotation is a growing/planting system designed to minimise pests and plant diseases, and maximise soil and plant health.  The idea is to have garden beds growing one plant family/group per bed.  The following season rotating the family groups to different garden beds dependent on nutrient requirements.  There is a sequence to follow.  Basically a plant family that takes a lot of a particular nutrient from the soil is followed be one that replenishes that nutrient and certain plants that attract the same pests or diseases, aren’t planted together, or after eachother.

Sounds simple!  There are about nine different plant families, some of which you can grow together, some you shouldn’t.  The ideal time before growing the same family in a bed, is four years.  A four bed garden, would have a four year rotation.  Some plants are perennial, requiring their own bed….make that five beds.

Our new garden space, has four beds.  If I have one for permanent plants, that leaves me 3 beds, and that’s O.K.  There is a 3 year crop rotation system.  In fact there are a few.  The more I looked the more I found!  Did I want to grow potatoes?  Should they go in with the tomatoes?  That seems to depend on which system you follow.  Well after much planning and scribbling on paper, and trying to incorporate what is already in the garden, here is the plan:

IMG_0575This autumn Bed 1 will grow legumes and potatoes, both of which were already there along with pumkin, I have planted before my wisdom.  Bed 2 will grow salad greens, broccoli, red and green cabbage, and some spinach and Bed 3 will have carrots and turnips.  Come Spring, Bed 3 will grow the legumes and potatoes.  I’ve also divided each bed down the middle, so one side of Bed 1 will grow legumes, the other side, potatoes.  The next time I plant those in bed 1 I’ll swap sides.  It all looks and sounds good on paper.  We will see if it works!

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