From farmers to homesteaders to allotment gardeners, everyone benefits from a crop rotation strategy, yet many newer gardeners are nervous at the prospect of employing such a rigid method. However as environmental and organic-minded gardeners continue to eschew chemical fertilisers, new methods of enhancing production are a great way to keep your garden productive.
There are many benefits for crop rotation in your allotment- not least increasing yield while limiting waste. Besides this you can limit the spread of disease, prevent pollutant run-off and help fght weeds. Many people opt for a four-year rotation structure- this is time most diseases take to be fully eradicated from the soil.
Did you know a simple crop rotation between seasons helps to balance the fertility needs of your crops? Many beginners falsely believe that different veg has roughly similar soil or nutrient requirements, however if you’re seeking the maximum return from your garden you should try to match your crops to the soil that best suits them.
For instance, following legumes with cabbage best utilises the nitrogen left in the soil by the beans, while weeds can be controlled by crops such as potatoes.
By moving your crops around, you can inhibit the spread of certain plant diseases. Be careful not to follow one crop with another of the same family as this could perpetuate diseases- ensure to research transferable diseases between crops, as well as fertility requirements.
Winter plays an important part in crop rotation. The aim is to restore the fertility of the soil, so naturally over winter crops need to fit into this strategy. Ideally leave ground over every other winter to recover, combined with compost suited to the crop planned for summer you can expect the soil to be far more productive. Over winter ideally you should consider planting out similar families of plants, under cover if necessary. Cabbages and potatoes that can develop over both growing seasons can be a useful way to keep the soil productive without draining it.