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Crop Rotation: How to get started in the garden

3rd Feb 2020

Crop Rotation: How to get started in the garden

Late January/Early February is a good time to start thinking about crop rotation.⁠

The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of your vegetable patch each year. It doesn’t matter if you have an allotment or a small garden patch, you can still plan for crop rotation.⁠

Some of the key benefits of crop rotation include:⁠

Soil Fertility:⁠
Different crops have different nutrient requirements. Changing crops annually can reduce the chance of particular soil deficiencies developing as the balance of nutrients removed from soil evens out over time.⁠

Weed Control:⁠
Crops like potatoes and squashes, with dense foliage and large leaves, suppress weeds. This reduces maintenance and weed problems.⁠

Pest & Diseases Control:⁠
Soil pests and diseases tend to attack specific plant families over and over again. By rotating crops between sites, the population of these pests decreases.⁠

To begin, divide your vegetable garden/patch into sections of equal size. You will also want to another section for crops such as rhubarb and asparagus.⁠

When you are deciding what to plant, you will need to group crops into certain sections:⁠

  • Brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohl-rabi, oriental greens, radish, swede and turnips⁠
  • Legumes: Peas, broad beans (French and runner beans suffer from fewer soil problems and can be grown wherever convenient)⁠
  • Onions: Onion, garlic, shallot, leek⁠
  • Potato family: Potato, tomato, (pepper and aubergine suffer from fewer problems and can be grown anywhere in the rotation)⁠⁠
  • Roots: Beetroot, carrot, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, parsley, parsnip and all other root crops, except swedes and turnips, which are brassicas⁠

Move each section of the plot a step forward every year so that for example, brassicas follow legumes, onions and roots, legumes, onions, and roots follow potatoes and potatoes follow brassicas. Thank to the team over at RHS for providing this 3-year traditional crop rotation plan where potatoes and brassicas are important crops:⁠

Year One ⁠
Section one: Potatoes⁠
Section two: Legumes, onions and roots⁠
Section three: Brassicas⁠
Year Two⁠
Section one: Legumes, onions and roots⁠
Section two: Brassicas⁠
Section three: Potatoes⁠
Year Three⁠
Section one: Brassicas⁠
Section two: Potatoes⁠
Section three: Legumes, onions and roots⁠

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