This article will be the first in a series that will look at practices that we can use in our garden to use scarce resources in the most efficient way to benefit both the soil and the environment and give us a bounty of fresh produce. Crop rotation is essential to continuity and fertility of our garden.
Farmers have been rotating crops over the ages to improve yield and manage their crops more efficiently. In fact farmers in the Middle East were using these practices 6000 years ago.
As gardeners we too can improve the soil and growing conditions for our vegetables and increase their quality and yield.
In my quest for a simple, easy to understand crop rotation system, I came across an article written by Lesa Wilke on her blog: Better Hens and gardens of Bramblestone Farm, which has an excellent schematic to help us understand how to rotate the vegetables we choose to grow each season in a particular garden bed. She also explains the reasons and benefits to the soil of each rotation. The design is easy to understand and also easy to remember when we are out in the garden planning and choosing what and where to grow our vegetables.
Lesa has kindly given us permission to reproduce the picture of the crop rotation here and you can read the details of her system by following this link to the page on her blog. There is also a wealth of information there for those who are interested.
Using crop rotation we continually replenish the nutrients in the soil by alternating the kinds of crops we plant each season, never planting the same type of crop in the same place.
By carefully planning, selecting and rotating the crops we plant in our garden beds, we can prevent the build up of soil borne diseases, keep pests to a minimum and also improve soil structure and fertility. In doing this we benefit the garden and decrease our dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.