Crop rotation

The principle of crop rotation is to grow specific groups of vegetables on a different part of the vegetable plot each year. This helps to reduce a build-up of crop-specific pest and disease problems and it organises groups of crops according to their cultivation needs.

Divide your vegetable garden or allotment into sections of equal size (depending on how much of each crop you want to grow), plus an extra section for perennial crops, such as rhubarb and asparagus.

Group your crops as below:

Brassicas:Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohl-rabi, oriental greens, radish, swede and turnips

Legumes:Peas, broad beans (French and runner beans suffer from fewer soil problems and can be grown wherever convenient)

Onions:Onion, garlic, shallot, leek

Potato family:Potato, tomato, (pepper and aubergine suffer from fewer problems and can be grown anywhere in the rotation)

Roots:Beetroot, carrot, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, parsnip and all other root crops, except swedes and turnips, which are brassicas

Move each section of the plot a step forward every year so that, for example, brassicas follow legumes, onions and roots, legumes, onions and roots follow potatoes and potatoes follow brassicas. Here is a traditional three year rotation plan where potatoes and brassicas are important crops:

Year one
Section one: Potatoes
Section two: Legumes, onions and roots
Section three: Brassicas

Year two
Section one: Legumes, onions and roots
Section two: Brassicas
Section three: Potatoes

Year three
Section one: Brassicas
Section two: Potatoes
Section three: Legumes, onions and roots

Oh and don’t forget to keep a copy of each year’s planting.

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