Kitchen Garden Vegetable Plot Crop Rotation

Crop Rotation

One of the most important ways to maintain the productivity of the kitchen garden or vegetable plot is by rotational cropping. This involves growing particular vegetables, or closely related ones, in different plots in the garden each year.

There are two main reasons for this. First, a particular group of vegetables has different soil and food needs from other groups, so that if you grow the same group on the same plot year after year the soil will eventually lose its fertility. The second reason is that soil pests and diseases that affect that particular group will be encouraged to increase if the group is always grown in the same plot. crop rotation of vegetable plot

Crop rotation can also help you to economise on organic materials. You will, for instance, have to add compost or manure to the plot on which you are to grow beans or marrows; but the following year the same plot can be planted with other crops that do not need the addition of organic materials.

Again, rotation helps you to take advantage of the fact that the roots of peas and beans, if left in the soil, provide a rich store of nitrogen.

The usual crop rotation method for a small kitchen garden or vegetable plot is to divide the area into three more or less equal plots. One of these plots should be manured the first year, the next plot manured the next year, and the last plot in the third year.

Plants that can be grown independently of such rotations include onions, which seem to do well in the same ground year after year, and herbs, which usually have an area of their own or may be grown in pots, tubs, or other containers.

In very small gardens, even rotations of your vegetable crops may not be able to prevent the spread of soil pests and diseases from one plot to the next.

If this happens it may be desirable to exclude tomatoes, potatoes, or brassicas from your rotations, as these crops are especially vulnerable to attack by soil organisms. Tomatoes can be most successfully raised in grow bags, while brassicas and potatoes may be grown in large containers, provided the soil is replaced with fresh material every year. If container growing is not possible, you should make absolutely certain that your plots are free from soil pests before you incorporate these crops in the rotation again.

vegetable plot crop rotation Before you devise your crop rotation programmes you will want to select one or more varieties of each crop. Narrowing down your choice may take several seasons of experimenting with different varieties.

Most seed packets contain more seeds than you will require in any one season, so you can gradually assemble collections of different varieties, several of which can be grown in small quantifies at the same time. Most seeds can be stored for several years if they are kept dry and cool. The best method is to store seed packets in a screw-top (air-tight) jar. Put a small quantity of silica gel in an open container in the bottom of the jar to absorb moisture, and keep the jar in a cool, dark place. 

Sowing in the Main Vegetable Plot

Prepare the vegetable plot for sowing by breaking down the dug-over soil a few weeks before sowing. Rake the soil backwards and forwards to knock down lumps, and remove debris and stones. Repeat the raking and clearing process a few days before sowing. The soil will need to be moist; if it is dry, water it a few days before sowing. Leave and do the same again a few hours before sowing.

Measure the rows, if necessary with a line and pegs, and draw them out to the correct depth for the plants in question using the edge of a rake, hoe, or other implement. Small seeds can be taken from the packet on the end of a plant label; large seeds can be planted in holes made with a dibber. Cover the seeds and water them in. Keep the soil moist, but not over-wet, during germination and after so that the plants can grow steadily without a check. 

 

18. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit & Veg, Kitchen Garden | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Kitchen Garden Vegetable Plot Crop Rotation

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