Crop Rotation

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Weedo
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Crop Rotation

Post: # 292780Post Weedo
Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:33 pm

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.
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 292781Post Green Aura
Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:25 am

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:
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 292783Post ina
Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:36 pm

My rotation always goes to pot... I mostly try not to grow the same stuff in the same place two years running.
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 292784Post BernardSmith
Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:16 pm

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.

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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 292785Post Green Aura
Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:37 pm

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.
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 292786Post Weedo
Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:36 pm

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.
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 292787Post Green Aura
Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:21 am

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:
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 293245Post Weedo
Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:39 pm

Just like to pick up the rotation thingy again. I have been delving further in the literature and find there are as many differing opinions and there are possible plants to grow. However, one thing that crops up (no pun intended) more and more is about mixed species planting rather than rotation - basically putting a few species together mixed up in the bed and allowing the varying needs to balance everything out, including bugs and diseases.

I will be rebuilding the plot soon(ish) and think I will go with a 4X4X4 rotation - 4 lots of 4 beds on a 4 year rotation (3 working and 1 fallow) -basically just a 4 bed system multipled. 1 set of 4 will be under bird netting for the most bird attractive crops. Perrenials compost, shed, chooks etc. will be in a separate area. I have a total area 25m X 45m to play with and intend use as much possible. I may, initially, use a some space to try the mixed species growing thingg.
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 293246Post Flo
Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:26 am

There seem to be as many suggestions on crop rotation as there are gardeners. Ask any two and get five answers. It's what works for you.

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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 293247Post Green Aura
Tue Dec 03, 2019 5:45 pm

Now you're straying into the area of companion planting. Another vast topic with differing theories. Essentially, it doesn't conflict with crop rotation, just grow things together for their mutual benefit.

For example, growing something smelly alongside carrots deters carrot root fly and as carrots are small tap roots they don't crowd out their companion. That's obviously a very simple example - it can get quite involved. Definitely worth exploring further as, in theory at least, it can reduce crop problems and water use and increase yield.
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Re: Crop Rotation

Post: # 293248Post Weedo
Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:46 pm

Its starting to be used here on very broad cropping enterprises - farms of several thousand Hectares are swinging over to mixed species crops and, in particular, mixed species fallow rather than bare fallows. It gets a bit more complex at this scale but seems to work. If we get any rain, we will trial in a small way this coming winter over about 40 Hectares. (I know, this does not really match up with the Ish norm; happy to explain what we actually do in more detail later but I did in my first newbie post).

However, I can see no reason why this can't work at my house patch level provided I get the mixes right; theoretically (emphasis) it should be possible to grow most veg crops together in a mixed bed.
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