Author Topic: Crop rotation (in theory)  (Read 1324 times)

Beersmith

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Crop rotation (in theory)
« on: March 07, 2021, 22:09:26 »
Like most people with an allotment I try to rotate my crops.  I know the theory and attempt a four year system.  Year 1 is beans and peas, year 2 is brassicas and cruciferous, year 3 is onion family and roots, year 4 potatoes and tomato family, with manure and lime used appropriately.

Easy in theory.  But actually I always struggle to keep a balance. I understand why. It is simply that the area I use for each of the four varies by quite a lot. Beans and peas probably cover one pole, brassicas perhaps two pole, onions and roots takes up four pole and potatoes and tomatoes roughly three.  Putting aside fruit trees and bushes and other permanent stuff like asparagus and rhubarb I have a bit of ground for crops that are less fussy about rotation like sweetcorn and squashes, that helps to restore some balance but it invariably ends up as a bit of a fudge. I'm sure it isn't that serious an issue but somehow it deeply offends my sense of neatness.

Are there any tricks of the trade I'm missing?  The amountof stuff I grow works for me and Mrs B so I don't want to change that.  I suspect it'll be muddle along as usual.
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Crop rotation (in theory)
« on: March 07, 2021, 22:09:26 »

JanG

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2021, 06:32:03 »
Charles Dowding has done some monitoring of the effects of not rotating, with interesting results.
https://youtu.be/WXQNnJOBQJc

Doesn’t help with the neatness compulsion though!


Peanuts

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2021, 06:52:00 »
It's always interesting reading about others' crop rotation.  In the UK we had a plot that didn't divide easily into four.  Here we've had a large and completely flat rectangle which divides easily.  Each year,  it is all rotavated (not at the same time though),  and I then trample the dissecting path, according to the slightly differing sizes of each quarter, so that can take account of the varied amounts I grow in each.
"A' is potatoes.  We also grow Trébonce onions all the way round that quarter, as we have a  bit of a problem with mole crickets, who are partial to potatoes, and I've understood they don't like onions.  Seems to work.
"B" is peas, and beans for fresh and drying - we grow a lot!
"C" is tomatoes, sweetcorn and peppers.
Then "D" is what I call our winter quarter, with lots of brassicas, and leeks. This will  be nice and empty at this time of year (it's  for next winter) so it's where I grow lettuces from now until July.
So I've always separated potatoes, and tomatoes, by two years.
Cucumbers, and courgettes which take up lots of space here (they spread massively) take pot luck when I can see where the space is going to be. 

This works for me

Paulh

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2021, 08:28:06 »
If it ain't broke, don't worry about it!

I suspect most people follow a less than pure rotation, just through the constraint of different sizes of area available, and fit in crops like courgettes and squashes, fennel, sweet corn where convenient each year.

Obelixx

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2021, 10:49:20 »
Our veggie plot is still under development and I have run out of space, again, so crop rotation is notional at best.

I can't grow peas and beans other than broad beans as it gets too hot and dry here.  Metered water so no sweetcorn either as they need lots of water.  I don't grow potatoes.  I've tried Charlottes and similar but the time between being too small to harvest and suddenly turning floury owing to drought is very short and they don't store well.

That leaves me, for now, with a permanent bed for fruit bushes, rhubarb, globe artichokes and asparagus.  Tomatoes and chillies go in the polytunnel where I can more easily control watering with a seep hose and improve the soil each year with manure and compost then garlic, shallots, assorted brassicas, beetroot, salads in what's left.  I need a new bed for this year's roots and brassicas, one for new strawberries and another for the dahlias I botted out to sow broad beans.   OH needs to get a move on.
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carrotdill

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2021, 19:39:57 »
Not all crop rotation system divide plot in four
some do it in 6 or even 8.  you also need to consider
many of the systems were developed when people 
grew more for storage and drying then fresh eating.
most root. legume and tubers crops were for storage.
potatoes, bean, peas carrots, parsnips were grown for
storage an eaten during winter. squashes were used
mostly for the winter type not summer types most
commonly grown now.  though not common now
there were grain and ruminates in rotation mixes.
lettuces are only crop not  grown for storage. cabbage
and many other crops we grow for fresh eating were
commonly storage crops. beans and peas were commonly dried.
cucumbers and many others were pickles.
garlics and onions were used in both storage and
fresh. there is also the rabbit hole of jaring produce such as tomatoes and
Capsicum for sauces and extracts.

Your  lack of  plants in one category seem
seems to be( no insult intend) but lack understanding
the variety uses for crops in each category. 

sorry for ranting in my first post but I had same lack vision;
 when I started growing edibles. NoW I look at myself back then a very
ignorant on the subject.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2021, 20:07:19 by carrotdill »

Paulh

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2021, 21:36:11 »
Not a rant at all but a good reminder of how times change. I'm always impressed by those who grow beans and peas for drying - we eat / give away most of what we grow but freeze some excess (often cooked with courgettes and tomatoes as ratatouille). But our hinterland doesn't include dried pulses for whatever reason.

gray1720

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2021, 15:40:32 »
"How times change" - absolutely! My youth was meat - two veg - greens and I hated rhubarb, broad beans and beetroot. Now I grow all 3 and all sorts of squashes and interesting veg, make curries, stir-fries, you name it....

Funnily enough I do dry pulses - mostly because we can rarely give the bloody things away fast enough! No, more they just make a change from rice, pasta, spuds in the winter, and you can get a reasonable crop from stuff that's still on the plants late.
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

Beersmith

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2021, 11:03:25 »

Your  lack of  plants in one category seem
seems to be( no insult intend) but lack understanding
the variety uses for crops in each category. 

Sorry for ranting in my first post but I had same lack vision when I started growing edibles.

As the author of the original post, I fully agree with your general discussion about how things were very different in the past and that storing and preserving also influenced what was grown then compared to today. I dry and keep small quantities of beans, as others have said they make a pleasant change from spuds and pasta, but not enough to justifying growing a lot more.

And I fully agree the difficulty arises because the amounts in each category vary. I said as much in my original post.  "I understand why. It is simply that the area I use for each of the four varies by quite a lot." But the reason is not that a lack understanding, it is simply that I choose to grow what I like.

Nor should you worry too much about ranting. I'm perfectly happy with robust debate, though it is generally best to be polite and respectful to others on the site, as some contributors may be more sensitive than others.   

But in the spirit of robust debate I will push back on one of your comments. To me, your concluding remark seem illogical. On the basis of a few lines of chat about different plant families, there really is no evidence that would allow anyone to identify a "lack of vision" in another.

Finally, returning to the orginal topic, I reckon I will try to allocate one or other "not fussy" types consistently to a set group. Always growing all squashes and curcubits together with the beans and peas, and sweet corn in the brassica group would help get things mearer to being in balance. I intend to check out if Inca berries are also "not fussy". I'd assumed they were a tomato family type but this may not be correct. That would allow a bit of further flexibility.

Got a few first earlies in on Sunday!

Spring will soon be here. Hooray!
Not mad, just out to mulch!

Obelixx

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2021, 11:25:52 »
We very rarely eat potatoes as I much prefer to cook and eat pasta, rice, sweet potatoes and often as not our meals don't include a carbs element anyway.

OH loves the idea of growing and eating fresh spuds tho so I did try planting some Charlottes here in our first spring.  Not good so I tried a different variety the next year but they really don't do well in the droughts here and our water is metered and they go floury and don't store well.   That is one of the rotation groups out then.  The heat and drought periods also mean I cannot grow beans other than autumn sown broad beans or peas or sweetcorn so that's another group out of the usual rotation.

I do grow a couple of courgettes and a few squashes but they need a lot of manure, watering and mulching.   Beginning to wonder if they're worth it.

I like to grow vegetable we like, that we use a lot, that taste better when picked fresh or can't easily be found in the shops.  For me that's curly kale cavolo nero, PSB, beetroot and varieties of tomato that they don't usually have in the shops or markets.  I don't like the whole bottling process except for growing San Marzano for making my own passata to last thru winter and some semi-dried for storing in oil for eating as bruschetta.   Can't get decent chillies here so I grow my own.

I grow my toms and chillies and a cucumber or two in the polytunnel and refresh the soil each year.  This year we have adopted 6 ex battery hens and they have done a good job of cleaning the soil in there.  I have a seep hose for easy watering.

We have plenty of garlic and shallots planted last December and doing well.   I'm waiting for a new bed to plant onion sets this spring.  I grow salad leaves in window boxes up on the terrace by the kitchen so I can control the amount of sun and water they get.

We have globe artichokes which love it here but I rather think the effort to get to the edible bit is not commensurate with the yield or flavour so we now leave the flowers for the birds and bees.  I have some asparagus which I hope will give its first crop this year and we have a rhubarb patch and soft fruits such as currants, raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries which are all permanent plantings.   Strawberries are a movable feast.

Obxx - Vendée France

pumpkinlover

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2021, 08:02:45 »
Beersmith- carrotdill will not be replying. We are more or less certain that it is the person who used to post in a similar fashion in a new guise.



Beersmith

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Re: Crop rotation (in theory)
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2021, 13:05:55 »
Beersmith- carrotdill will not be replying. We are more or less certain that it is the person who used to post in a similar fashion in a new guise.

Thank you for the information. I did think his words were not well chosen but I was not offended, rather slightly amused. 

But I fully understand that the administration of this site must look to ensure that exchanges are cordial and polite even when we may disagree.   

Note to self. Keep it polite Beersmith!

Not mad, just out to mulch!

 

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