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Crop rotation

UK Garden Centre - The principles of crop rotation

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You should not grow a vegetable in the same spot year after year. If you do then two basic problems are likely to arise. Firstly, soil-living pests and diseases which thrive on the crop will steadily increase and may reach epidemic proportions. Secondly, continuous cropping with the same vegetable may lead to the levels of soil nutrients becoming unbalanced – it is a simple fact that most vegetables prefer to grow in soil which has been used for a completely different crop rather than live in land used by one of their own kind.
Crop rotation is the answer, and the standard is the 3 year plan. Divide the available land into three sections, and plant roots in one, brassicas in another and others in the last. The next year, move them all along one strip, and again the third year. By the fourth year the crops should be in the same position as the first year. A strip of land at one end of the plot is sometimes used for permanent crops (asparagus, rhubarb, etc.) and is left out of the plan. Not everyone is able or willing to practice crop rotation, and unfortunately all idea of a rotation is abandoned. It would be much better to follow a very simple routine – roots this year, an above-ground vegetable next year and then back to a root crop…with the proviso that if a vegetable does badly one year then you should never follow it next year with one from the same group as stated below.

Roots
Beetroot, carrot, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, parsnip, potato, salsify, scorzonera.
Do not add manure, and do not lime.
Star need: Rake in a general-purpose fertilizer about 2 weeks before sowing or planting.

Brassicas
Broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohl rabi, radish, swede, turnip.
Add some well-rotted manure or compost at digging time if soil is known to be short of humus.
Star need: Lime the soil unless you are sure it is already alkaline; Rake in a general-purpose fertilizer about 2 weeks before sowing or planting.

Others
Aubergine, bean, capsicum, celeriac, celery, cucumber, endive, leaf beet, leek, lettuce, marrow, onion, pea, spinach, sweet corn, tomato.
Star need: Add a liberal amount of well-rotted manure or compost at digging time.
Lime only if the soil is known to be acid; rake in a general-purpose fertilizer about 2 weeks before sowing or planting.


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