We have recently been planning what to plant and where to plant it, which has lead to some interesting discussions about crop rotation/monoculture/polyculture vs. Permaculture systems and companion planting, but that’s for another post!
Using crop rotation enables us to use all the beds in the garden for different cops each year, on a rolling basis.
The alternative would be to plant the same crop in the same place year after year, leading to nutrient depletion in the soil and a build up of pests specific to a specific crop.
The groups of our crops have been divided into the following:
We have approximately 4-6 beds for each crop group, meaning each year we can grow approximately the same amount of each crop family.
The science bit
90% of plants’ needs come from the atmosphere. The Nitrogen cycle is most important cycle: Nitrogen from the air gets broken down by bacteria into an accessible form for plants (Nitrates), as they can’t access it as a gas.
Legumes can make the biggest contribution to soil improvement due to their varied root systems – shallow to deep, they are able to grow in varied areas of soil. They are able to fix nitrogen and release it to the soil. These nitrogen rich crops, when they die and rot, add nutrient rich humus to the soil, thus increasing the quality of the soil in that immediate environment. Over time, it is possible to positively increase the quality of the soil from its original level of nutrients.
Some good examples of legumes to act as green manure – grown and left in the ground – are peas, beans, clover but some varieties of cabbage, oilseed rape, turnip, sunflower and buckwheat because they grow many leaves and fruit in a short period of time.
We can’t wait to get planting the plan out in the ground!
Blog by Rachel