Crop Rotation at a Glance

07 April 2014 | Posted in Gardening by The Marshalls Family

Why Use Crop Rotation?
Growing vegetables in the same spot every year can lead to a build up of contamination by soil borne pests and diseases and lead to a depletion of minerals and nutrients. Following a crop rotation system, vegetables in the same family are grown in a different part of the plot each year, this can help improve soil structure and fertility and help control pests and diseases that affect a specific plant family.

Some vegetables, such as brassicas are heavy feeders and deplete a lot of the soil's minerals, while others such as carrots are light feeders and use up fewer nutrients. Plants such as beans and peas actually improve the soil by adding nutrients such as nitrogen. By alternating the planting of these types of crops soil health can be maintained.

There are many interpretations of crop rotation but the one thing common to all is never grow brassicas in the same spot each year. This will help avoid the fungal infection clubroot which can remain in the soil for up to twenty years!

Any area not being used for an overwintering crop can be utilised by sowing a Green Manure which will suppress weeds, protect from soil erosion and leaching of nutrients by winter rain or snow and add structure to the soil.

Crop Rotation Plot


Keep it Simple

If your garden is small you can still use the principles behind crop rotation to improve your soil and yields. Dividing a small plot into three or four smaller beds will allow a simple crop rotation. The basic rule to remember is never plant the same crop in the same place two years in a row.

To make the most of a small space interplant slow maturing crops with fast growers such as salads, oriental veg, radish and spinach, that way you can get two crops from the same amount of space.

Some vegetables are not prone to soil-borne disease so don't need to be part of your rotation so if you have empty spaces plant non-rotation crops such as lettuce, sweetcorn, spinach and courgette.

Crop Rotation at a Glance

  • Plant brassicas after legumes - sow crops such as cabbage, cauliflower and kale in beds previously used for beans and peas as these fix nitrogen in the soil and the brassicas benefit from the nutrient-rich conditions created.
  • Avoid planting root vegetables on areas which have been heavily fertilised, this causes lush foliage at the expense of the roots and parsnips and carrots will fork if grown in too rich a soil. Sow these in an area which has grown heavy feeders (such as brassicas) the previous season.
  • Grow veg from different groups together if they require the same conditions.
  • Alternate root vegetables and vegetables with shallow roots to help improve soil structure.
  • Interplant slower growing varieties with salads and other quick grow crops to maximise production.

If you have any questions or comments please use the form below.

Comments

09 January 2010 - Sophie Marshall Wrote:

We are starting our own kitchen garden with raised beds ( clever hubby has built these and nearly filled them all! ) and are also hoping to have beehives nearby. After reading the blogs I'm concerned that the use of Round-up, which is going to be necessary as our kitchen garden is on a cleared bit of overgrown wasteland, may affect the Bees. I will manually weed the beds but it is a walled area and I was planning on spraying the pathways and edges. I am going to grow flowers alongside the veg and there are plenty of apple trees in the hedges to attract them. Any advice?

10 January 2010 - Janine Gash Wrote:

I loved growing veg for the first time last year. I have separate beds for the different groups of plants, but should they be allocated for the whole year to each group or part of it.? In my alium bed can I plant a row of leeks after harvesting my spring onions and after harvesting spring cabbage can my winter cabbage go in to the brassica bed this year...or should it be moved on to 2011 brassica bed!?! advice would be most welcome.

27 January 2010 - JOHN PITTAWAY Wrote:

All crops should be rotated for the second year and if you have got the space a six year rotation can take place this benefits all crops and keeps the ground healthy

14 February 2010 - Fran Wrote:

We grew vegetables for the first time last year. We love peas and will probably fill most of the vegetable plots with pea plants this year. Whilst I know that I have to rotate brassicas every year, is it okay to plant peas on the same patch that I grew them in last year? I will only grow one lot of peas on that patch before I grow brassicas there. How many years can I grow peas and beans in the same patch before I risk soil-borne diseases and what are the diseases that peas are prone to?

22 March 2010 - chris clark Wrote:

Manual labour is the only safe way to clear unwanted weeds and growth. Anything else such as sprays ultimateley destroys widlife including birds, hedgedhogs etc etc. If I had my way all sprays would be banned and should be removed from the shelves immediately. To save our wildlife we have to put our backs into it and not chose the easy option.

30 July 2010 - joseph woosey Wrote:

i am on to my third year on my rotation and i have had no problems at all and all my plant are good

02 September 2010 - Sophie Marshall Wrote:

Thanks Chris, We have discovered that mowing the weeds keeps them under control so all the wildlife is safe!

19 February 2012 - Linda Buss Wrote:

I am new to veggie gardening here in Spain (about 18 years experience in UK). I have found that the germination rate of seed packets over here is very hit and miss indeed. Marshalls quality seeds have given me a much better rate of germination and that means "more veggies" and they grow so well as we have extended growing seasons here on the mountains near the med coast. Thanks Marshalls. Crop rotation is my next plan of action as the kitchen garden is due for an extension this year which will make rotation easier.

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