Easy Peasy Crop Rotation

feb in the vegie garden

Today I’m  sharing a back to basics, solid beginning to your crop rotation journey. The bonus of following a rotation is this little bit of organisation with the order of your plantings prevents stressing your hard working soil out. We can keep the workload light if we balance the demands. Follow a heavy feeder with a light feeder and huzzah!, balanced soil without bags of fert or liquid brews or shopping, just a bit of brain power.

  • Rotating crops spreads the nutrient load. Each crop draws on different minerals and some gather nutrient even eg: buckwheat draws phosphorus and legumes bring nitrogen.
  • The final win with moving crops around is breaking cycles of soil borne disease.

The Importance Of A Record

Get a notebook. How old fashioned am I? Or do your mobile phone thing. Whatever floats your boat. The thing is the record. Something you can flick back through to see what you grew 3 years ago (unless you have super sonic powers of recall).

Leave as generous gap as you can between these 3 families with high potential for soil borne disease – brassica (broccoli, cabbage, mustard, kohlrabi, cauliflower, brussels sprouts), allium (onion, garlic, leek) and solanaceae (tomato, pepper, chilli, eggplant). The rest I’m more relaxed with.

Follow This Pattern

I tried a million a different ways until I learnt this rotation, many years ago, from Kay Baxter. I’ve stuck with it. I love it for the balance it brings and it’s simplicity.

1. Start with a mixed greencrop

lupinChoose a mix of seasonally appropriate greencrop seed. Include a nitrogen fixer.

2. Next comes a heavy feeder

butternut harvest

We’ve primed the soil, so lets use it! Either make pockets in the greencrop and plant seedlings amongst. This works well for

  • Brassicas: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussell sprouts
  • Corn
  • Celery
  • Cucurbits: melons, cucumber, zuchinni, pumpkin
  • Leafy greens: silverbeet, chard, salads
  • Solonaceae: tomato, aubergine, pepper

Or chop the greencrop at soil level, spread a little compost to plant out

  • Alliums: onions, leeks, garlic

3. Finally, a light feeder

dwarf beans

No richness needed here. A dust of lime flour or woodash pre legume is useful.

  • Legumes: peas, beans, broadbeans
  • Root crops: potatoes, kumara, carrots, parsnips, beetroot

Then back we go to the beginning, sow a greencrop.

Plan One Crop Ahead

All you need do is plan the next crop. Start thinking about what you’ll grow next when you start harvesting. At any one time, try to have a mix of heavy, light and green crops on the go – it’ll make things easier further down the track. You will eventually, evolve this way as your confidence grows.

And WRITE IT ALL IN YOUR NOTEBOOK. Sorry to shout, but its important.

As you work through it, you’ll have a tonne of questions, which is awesome cause they bring the learning. At times you’ll feel confused. That’s cool, normal even, just don’t get stuck there! Take a breath and do the next thing. It’s only gardening. The sky’s not going to fall on your head if you grow a cabbage after a silverbeet.

Start simple, but mostly just start. Do it!

Comments

  1. Do you not grow any toms outside anymore?