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General

Crop Rotation


For Healthy Organic Garden Soil and Organic Farms

Crop rotation is one technique used in organic farming. Growing organic food means using organic soil (or organic garden soil in organic vegetable gardening) and natural, chemical-free growing practices.

Using rotation is important in ensuring you have a garden that is going to grow the best vegetables. Successful and productive organic vegetable gardening needs crop rotation to develop healthy organic soil. (Please note: all ingredients (soil, seeds, seedlings, plants, fertilizer, and more) must be organic.)

Many people begin by planting some of their favourite vegetables and decide to make it an annual event. After a couple of years their vegetables begin to suffer and they do not understand what is wrong with their garden. By planting the same things over and over in the same spot, the vegetables begin to suffer and do not grow well.

Basically the soil gets worn out and the nutrients they need are no longer in the soil. By rotating where you plant certain types of vegetables (remember to grow members of the same species together - see crop grouping below - you will be giving your organic soil a rest from the demands of that particular type/species of vegetable.

crop rotationWhen the soil receives a different species of vegetable, it is replenished with a wider range of minerals and nutrients, due to the new requirements of that species.

This produces healthy vegetables, as well as protecting against pests and disease, and ensures healthy organic vegetable gardening.

The best way to be successful with crop rotation is to move your plants in sequence so that it takes at least three years for the original plant species to get back to where it started.

Not only does this help to replenish the soil but it breaks the life cycle of any pests that may decide they want to feast on your vegetables.




Crop Grouping

For optimal crop rotation, crops should be grown in the following groupings:
  • Aliums; Garlic, Leeks, Onions and Shallots

  • Brassicas; Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Radishes, Swede and Turnips

  • Legumes; Broad beans, French beans, Peas and Runner beans

  • Roots; Beetroot, Carrots, Parsnips and Potatoes

All other vegetables that don't fall into the above categories may be grown with any of the groupings.

Because certain garden pests attack only certain plants, when the plant is changed it causes the pest to lose its natural cycles in turn, stopping them from attacking your vegetables.

While we are on the subject of pest control, let's have a look at a few other ways of guarding against pests and disease, in conjunction with crop rotation.




Growing Organic Food:
Use Organic Vegetable Gardening Methods

Instead of using pesticides which can harm the organic garden soil, using a few natural ways of controlling pests is a much better solution. Did you know that by planting tobacco around your vegetable garden you can keep slugs and aphids out? A garlic spray is also effective against aphids.

Another good method is to put light netting over your vegetables. This will still allow them to have sunlight but it helps to deter flying insects.

There are also insects that are good for your garden. The ladybug is one that eats other harmful insects. So not only are they considered good luck to have around but they can be good luck for your garden. They will feast on slugs and aphids to keep them from destroying the plants in your garden.

Green lacewings are another good insect. They also feast on the bad insects which keeps them from destroying a garden that you have worked hard on. Worms are highly useful in your garden and in composting your soil (in fact, you might want to buy some additional worms and add them to your soil).

There are natural organic garden pest control options for slugs and snails too. Organic slug and snail repellent aerosol sprays can be bought online and at some garden centres. Note that these are repellents. If you are like me, you may prefer to repel unwanted creatures rather than kill them.

Another good way of controlling the insect population is to encourage birds to come to your garden. Put a bird bath close by. Birds eat a lot of insects in a day. With a little research you can learn what insects are harmful to your garden and which ones help to control the harmful ones.

Insects can destroy plants but there are also animals that can eat your vegetables. Deer are attracted to gardens and can destroy a garden overnight. Planting perennial sunflowers as a type of hedge can repel deer and other animals from your organic vegetable garden. They are also great bird attractors so this is beneficial in more than one way.

Cucumbers, lettuces, peppers, runner beans, and squash are natural insect repellents.

Another problem gardeners have is controlling the weeds that try and outgrow everything around them. Certain plants are good for controlling weeds. Potatoes and squash are great at snuffing out weeds. This can certainly help to keep you from having to spend half of your time pulling them.

Crop rotation is both a farming method and a gardening method: use it to effectively grow both on the farm and in your vegetable patch.

Let's now take a look at Square Foot Gardening - a great method for crop rotation. This is where that ball of twine comes in handy.




Additional Reading:





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