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Rotating the Crop

What is Crop Rotation?

If you grow the same crop in the same place year after year you will get a build up of pests and diseases specific to that crop. Different crops take different levels of nutrients from the soil and inevitably these become unbalanced. This is often referred to as a ´sick soil´. Even the addition of fertilizers is unlikely to help since it is likely the trace elements are depleted

Some gardeners persist in growing their runner beans or onions in the same place each year but it has been proven this is not a good idea - not every old fashioned method is good!

The simplest rule of crop rotation is not to grow the same thing in the same place two years running. In fact, the larger the gap between a crop occupying the same piece of ground the better. Some pests may be present at high levels initially but a gap of three or four years will see their numbers fall to negligible levels without a host to sustain them.

Principles of Crop Rotation

  • The first principle of any crop rotation is to have the largest possible gap between potatoes occupying the same piece of ground. The same applies for brassicas, the cabbage family.
  • Keep lime away from potatoes because it increases the chances of them getting scab. Conversely, brassicas like a limey soil. So potatoes should be planted as far away from the application of lime as possible and brassicas can go in to soil that has been limed.
  • Root crops such as carrots and parsnips do not want soil that has been manured the previous autumn. It will cause them to fork and split.
  • Where possible, keep plants of the same family together as their requirements will be similar