As I mentioned previously I have been thinking a lot about crop rotation recently and how I can organise my own plans to fit in with a crop rotation plan to get the best use out of my space, prevent the build up of pests and diseases and use the plants own natural quirks to my advantage.
Because I now have a large amount of space I decided to try and use a five year rotation system. I have divided plots 1 and 2 up into 5 ‘sections’. In plot 1 the beds on the left hand side of the plot is Section A, the beds on the right hand side of the plot is Section B.
On plot 2 the first third of four large beds is Section C, the second third is Section D and the last third is Section E.
I have also grouped the plants according to species as is recommended by various articles:
- Group A; Potatoes and sweet potatoes (if there is room)
- Group B; Legumes including runner beans, broad beans, peas, dwarf beans, drying beans, lentils and chickpeas
- Group C; Brassicas including cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli/calabrese, swede, brussels sprouts, kale
- Group D; Squash and sweetcorn. This group also includes both courgettes and pumpkins
- Group E; Alliums including garlic, onions, shallots, spring onions and leeks
- Group F; Root and salad vegetables including carrot, parsnips, beetroot, celeriac, lettuce, salad leaves
- Group G; Greenhouse vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, aubergines
Only groups A-E will be rotated within the sections described above. Group F will be rotated through the deep beds that are dotted around the plots or will be fitted in wherever there is extra space. The large planters enable me to get long, straight and large carrots and parsnips. Group G will be located in the polytunnel (when it is erected) but I will aim to rotate these vegetables within the polytunnel to minimise pest and disease build-up where possible.
I will also need to remember to treat the soil appropriately and sow green manures when necessary to keep the soil fertile and give the right conditions for each group of plants. Therefore I will need to:
- Manure the soil before planting potatoes
- Soil will be bare between potato harvest (September) and bean sowing (May) so a autumn/winter green manure can be planted during this time
- Liming the soil before bean crops. This helps raise the soil pH before planting brassicas by giving the lime time to work (this was recommended in an article I read).
- Lime the soil again after beans have finished before brassicas are planted in the next season (again recommended in the same article but am not sure if it is overkill?)
- Manure the ground after brassicas are harvested ready for squash next year
- No manure or lime should be added before planting alliums.
- Green manure soil where possible after onions are finished and add manure to the soil before planting potatoes in the following season.
The rotation for 2017 will not necessarily follow the patterns I have described above as I am trying to get my crops into the right rotation but need to take into account where I have grown last years crops. So the six year rotation plan for the allotment looks like this.