Crop rotation

four crop rotation

Crop Rotation

I like to grow my produce organically (without any chemical intervention). So to keep disease at bay I rotate my crops by the four crop rotation system. This sounds complex but is actually quite simple. Imagine that the above image is the plot, in the blue section (1) plant potatoes and tomatoes and squashes then in the green section (2) plant brassicas, in the brown section (3) plant roots and in the yellow section (4) plant legumes. Then in the following year move round by one degree so in (1) plant roots, in (2) plant potatoes etc. in (3) plant legumes and in (4) plant brassicas and so on.

Plant Groups

For beginners who may not be familiar with the terms I just mentioned here are a few examples of each plant group:

Brassicas

  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Swede

Roots

  • Carrot
  • Beetroot
  • Parsnip
  • Leek

Legumes

  • Peas
  • Broad beans
  • Runner beans
  • Dwarf beans

This ensures that you only grow each family in one section every four years thus minimalizing the risk of disease build up in the soil. You don’t have to divide in squares, you can split your plot into strips and implement the same system. What’s important is the four year rest that you give to each section.

There are also other factors to appreciate with this system. When lifting potatoes you tend to dig the soil deeply this will help the following years root crops to stretch deep into the soil in search of water (making carrots and parsnips longer). Legumes add nitrogen to the soil as a natural by product of their just growing, brassicas benefit from this nitrogen boost.

Another reason for rotating in this manner is that this system deters the build up of crop specific insects as obviously if the crop is not there next season their food source has gone.

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