Monday, February 15, 2010
Bed hopping or to be really technical crop rotation is causing us some problems this year. The first year on a plot is no trouble just sow whatever where ever takes your fancy, even the second year was easy for us as we extended the plot digging previously overgrown beds.
Last year we had the second plot so were able to move stuff around, again no problems.
This year all of the beds have now had at least one crop so rotating them is now important to offset any danger of infestation of the various bugs and diseases that can attack when the same crops are grown in the same position year after year.
It should be easy enough one would think,lots of books and advice out there,and there begins the problem!I have 5 or 6 organic/gardening books written by knowledgeable gardeners but they often do not agree on what follows what or even what belongs to the same family!It also seems to depend on whether you have enough ground to rotate crops over a 3 or 4 year cycle.
We had potatoes in 2 beds last year (new beds) I had earmarked these for onions this year as in company with some other veg do not like to be grown on freshly manured soil and perform better on soil that has been manured for a previous crop.
Some say brassicas are a group to themselves and others that they can be put in with roots and onions? I am going with Caroline Foley's The Allotment Handbook' who uses a 4 year rotation system.
Year 1 Potatoes which break up the soil and can take a lot of manuring which feeds the ground for following crops
Year 2 Roots for our purposes roots will cover alliums (onions,leeks,garlic)carrots,parsnips,beetroot
Year 3 Legumes (Peas & Beans)the ground can be manured for these but an organic compost is recommended ( we have a full compost bin at home which will be emptied and taken out) these leave nitrogen in the ground which benefits year 4 crops.
Year 4 Brassicas, cabbage, cauliflower,broccoli,sprouts,turnips.
Sweetcorn can be planted with any of the above groups but should also be moved around every year.Lettuces and fast growing crops can be popped in anywhere as they are not too long in the ground to attract diseases.
Tomatoes will be in the greenhouse with cucumber and peppers as our summers do not encourage outdoor sowings.
The permanent beds with fruit, rhubarb and asparagus will stay as is.
Then you can go on to read about companion planting which is a long list depending on which book you are reading.A shorter list is the antagonists, this list is from Grow your own Organic fruit and vegetables by Christine & Michael Lavelle.
You should always avoid planting the following close together.
Asparagus hates Onions & Potatoes
Beans hate Chives fennel or garlic
Carrots hate Dill
Carrots, cauliflower & Potatoes hate Tomatoes
Peas hate Onions,garlic & shallots
Potatoes hate Pumpkins & squashes
We are putting in a lot of onions,spring onions and shallots.
First and second early potatoes only
Early and later carrot crops and staggering sowings of brassicas
Peas,mange tout, french beans
This planning is not easy and I am sure we will get some of it very wrong.Any advice from anyone will be most welcome
I was in B&Q this morning and they have a large gardening section indoors, all the usual bits and bobs but I was interested to see they have 3 different types of raised beds on sale.The boards are of varying heights but all fit together easily with the minimum of effort.There are different sizes to suit any garden if you are thinking of digging out a vegetable patch this year.
1.8 metres x 0.9m 21.85e
1m x 1m 21.85e
1.8m x 1.2m (green) 55.00e
A few bags of compost and one of these and anyone could be growing their own salad crops in a few weeks.