To maintain a healty soil structure, and cater for the different crops’ wants and needs, it is important not to grow the same crop in the same spot year after year.
If you do you’re likely to experience two basic problems:
- Soil-living pests and diseases that thrive on the crop grown will increase steadily, and could reach epidemic proportions.
- The nutrients contained in the soil will become unbalanced, and the crop will perform badly.
The answer to these two problems, and the reason for dividing the crops into plant-families, is called crop rotation.
Once you have identified where on your plot you’re going to grow your vegetables (excluding areas used for permanent crops), divide your plot into sections (3-5 according to the number of plant families you have).
In your first year of growing (based on 3 plant families), grow plant family 1 in section 1, plant family 2 in section 2 and plant family 3 in section 3.
In your second year of growing, grow plant family 3 in section 1, plant family 1 in section 2 and plant family 2 in section 3.
In the third year of growing, grow plant family 2 in section 1, plant family 3 in section 2 and plant family 1 in section 3.
The fourth year is a repeat of year 1 - and so on….
The same system applies for any other number of plant families used.
For those unable - or unwilling - to practice crop rotation, the rule of thumb is to grow a root crop in one place one year - and then an “above ground” crop the next year - then back to a root crop again.
If a crop under-performs in one spot one year - it should never be followed by a crop from the same plant family the following year.
Sticking to these simple rules will ensure that you’ll be more successful in growing your crops year after year.