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Crop Rotation

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:33 pm
by Weedo
This may or may not be a "new" topic but I am confused (a state easily reached these days) regarding crop rotation. I do know what it IS because I rotate crops on the broad acre scale but with a limited range ; grasses (wheat, oats, barley etc.), legumes (peas, clovers etc.) and brassicas (canola)

I have briefly trawled through this site and found some info, including wise words from GA a decade plus ago, but I thought I would open the discussion again. I have read numerous articles etc. on the subject, each of which has a different opinion or, in a couple of cases, contradicts others outright. So, can I hear from practical folks that have actually practiced crop rotation and found what works?. My patch is laid out on the BSA system (Bits Stuck Anywhere) and I want to redesign it over the next couple of seasons.

Re: Crop Rotation

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:25 am
by Green Aura
Crikey, I'm not sure if my system is the same as 10 years ago. I use a fairly simple four year rotation. However, what we can grow up in our cold, rainy area is very different to your hot, dry one, so how much use it'll be is anyone's guess. :lol:

At its simplest a Spring manuring > spuds (this could include other nightshades that will grow in your conditions) > winter liming > roots > legumes (leave roots in to rot over winter) > brassicas - rinse and repeat. Short growing salad crops interplanted amongst the longer growing crops.

In practice we don't use lime here as we're growing on limestone. We do use seaweed over winter though and bokashi-composted veg in the bean trenches in the autumn prior to planting.

TBH we started growing spuds separately, out of the rotation, because I'm happy then for escapees to grow the following year - but we don't eat spuds at the moment so that's immaterial.

I also don't include alliums in the roots section - they hate being disturbed so we kept them separate.

We also grow courgettes in their own pots, purely because their umbrella of huge leaves shade everything else around - we need all the sun we can get here! Lettuces don't mind growing under them too much though. That might be a good point for you though.

Having said all that the weather has been so awful here for the last 3-4 years that we've grown very little outdoors for the last year or two. We're just now starting to get our heads round what appears to be our new growing conditions and have one brassica bed going at the moment. Caulis apparently don't care as long as they've been given cover to germinate. We haven't got as far as flowering, however, so we might end up eating cauli leaves! :lol:

Re: Crop Rotation

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:36 pm
by ina
My rotation always goes to pot... I mostly try not to grow the same stuff in the same place two years running.

Re: Crop Rotation

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:16 pm
by BernardSmith
As a naive vegetable gardener who plants multiple "crops" in beds 4 m by about 3.3 m is there any scientific basis for "rotating" crops? I am not growing acres of a single plant and I am continually replacing nutrients used up each season when I add compost and other adjuncts. Isn't the basis for rotation because of the non-sustainable practices of factory farming? But as I say, I am a naive gardener and not a farmer.

Re: Crop Rotation

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:37 pm
by Green Aura
Not entirely, Bernard. Some crops, for example brassicas, are susceptible to diseases if grown in the same area each year. In the case of brassicas that would be clubroot. If you get that you can't grow brassicas in thast area again for years.

Also, rotating crops enables you to add different nutrients at different times - carrots don't like manure but potatoes do, so grow spuds in manured beds, then carrots the following year there's still some of the nutrient but not enough to cause root splitting. Peas and beans are nitrogen-fixing plants - in the nodules on their roots, so leave those in the ground to rot, then plant brassicas the following year, which like a lot of nitrogen.

You don't necessarily need separate beds, just divide your big patch into four and rotate those zones.

Re: Crop Rotation

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:36 pm
by Weedo
GA thanks for the info. I don't think time or location is really a factor - its more about types of crops grown; your system seems to align OK to what I grow even though timing is different (a good excuse for a week at the beach to get seaweed). The two rotation systems I have found that may suit me are based on different things as well; one is based on light Vs heavy feeders with only a passing mention of families while the other is based on types (legumes, brassicas & leafies, alliums and "other"). It is noticeable that the Curcubits, apart from cucumber, are absent.

Re: Crop Rotation

Posted: Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:21 am
by Green Aura
I think the Curcubit family have such varied growing conditions, Weedo, it's quite difficult to fit. The big umbrellas, like courgettes, take up a lot of space all round but cucumbers and melons climb and other squash trail. You can happily plant a squash, or pumpkin in your compost heap, as long as they've got room to trail. They seem to like their roots growing somewhere warm. Where I live we can barely get butternut, or other bigger squashes, to ripen in our short growing season.

Make sure you give your seaweed a good soak to get rid of most of the salt and enjoy the beach. :thumbright: