Ro­tate your crops

Gardeners' World - - Contents -

The most im­pres­sive crop ro­ta­tion regime I’ve ever seen is at Hamp­ton Court, which in­volves 12 ar­eas of the gar­den, each con­tain­ing a dif­fer­ent group of veg­eta­bles. My own regime is sim­pler, us­ing only three ar­eas! So why ro­tate crops? There are two main rea­sons, the first be­ing to re­duce pest and dis­ease prob­lems. Th­ese tend to tar­get one group of veg. For ex­am­ple, clu­b­root in bras­si­cas can con­tam­i­nate soil for many years. It needs bras­si­cas to live, so if they aren’t grown in the con­tam­i­nated soil, the clu­b­root will die and the soil be­comes clean. The more groups of veg in your ro­ta­tion, the longer it takes be­fore each group is ex­posed to dis­ease again. The sec­ond rea­son is to im­prove the soil’s fer­til­ity, main­tain­ing a bal­ance of nu­tri­ents for spe­cific types of crops. I plant legumes first, which en­rich the soil with ni­tro­gen. Bras­si­cas then use that ni­tro­gen and root veg fol­lows, aer­at­ing the soil as the roots grow into it and are then dug out. Af­ter that, it’s back to legumes.

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