I have been desperate to start planting seeds outside but it has been so cold and wet I was not able to. However, this morning saw the sun shine for the first time in ages so it was boots on and outside.
Now I have a conundrum. We had 3 areas for growing veg but due to Mr Mac’s path and wall building project, one of the areas has a mountain of earth piled on top of it. It will eventually become a lovely raised bed enclosed with a stone wall but for the time being it will be sprayed with weed killer, covered in black plastic and left until next year.
This leaves me with 2 areas and one has already been earmarked for brassicas. We have “acquired” an old gazebo frame which will support a net to cover them and protect them from cabbage white butterflies and the resulting caterpillars.
Over the last three years we have planted potatoes in each patch to break up the soil and have followed a crop rotation system, making sure the same vegetables were not grown in the same place 2 years in a row.
So my conundrum this morning was to work out what I had planted in my 2 remaining veggie patches last year and try to work out what can go where this year. This hurt my brain! So now that I have worked it out, to save you the bother, I will gladly share my new found knowledge.
Depending on what book you consult and how much space you have, crops can be rotated over 3 years or 4. I will go with 4 but if you only have room for 3, alliums and roots should be put together.
The idea is to avoid planting the same crop in the same bit of ground more than one year in four.
Crops fall into 4 categories:
- Legumes – peas and beans
- Alliums – onions, shallots, leeks and garlic
- Roots – peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, celery, celeriac, beetroot, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and potatoes
- Brassicas – cauliflowers, cabbages, brussels sprouts, broccoli, pak choi, swedes, turnips and radishes
Year 1 Legumes
Year 2 Brassicas
Year 3 Roots
Year 4 Alliums
Year 1 Roots
Year 2 Alliums
Year 3 Legumes
Year 4 Brassica
Year 1 Alliums
Year 2 Legumes
Year 3 Brassicas
Year 4 Roots
Year 1 Brassicas
Year 2 Roots
Year 3 Alliums
Year 4 Legumes
Advantages of crop rotation:
- This is a natural way of preventing root diseases.
- Some crops like potatoes blanket the soil, smothering weeds, so it is useful to follow them with crops that are difficult to weed like onions.
- Root crops also break up the ground keeping the soil structure open and full of air.
- Legumes put nitrogen into the soil making it ideal for nitrogen-hungry crops, like brassicas, to follow.