DEAR NONNO, I GREW UP ON A FARM AND WE ALWAYS PRACTICED CROP ROTATION. IS IT IMPORTANT TO ROTATE CROPS IN MY LITTLE VEGGIE PATCH? IF SO, HOW SHOULD I APPROACH IT?
There are few no brainers in life, and only and handful spring to mind, but simple crop rotations is something only foolish would choose to ignore. While crop rotation is another principle that we have borrowed from our farming practices- along with companion planting- it is a little more relevant in the small space garden where we really need to exploit every trick at our disposal. This is one technique that helps make the most of your precious real estate by managing the needs of your plants. It helps to alleviate fertilising and maximises what the plant gives you back in return.
Sometimes it is not just the harvest a plant provides, it's the potential for future harvests the next season and beyond. Smart crop rotation guarantees that. There's a couple of crop rotation no brainers that have been handed down from generation to generation. these are:
Broad beans after tomato. Tomatoes have been growing throughout the warmer months, depleting the soil of nitrogen, something that the broad beans can fix for you through autumn and winter. You've just finished harvesting the tomatoes. It's now autumn. No brainer.
Broccoli after beans. Beans have been growing throughout spring and summer, fixing the soil with nitrogen, something that all the brassicas- broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts - need in spades! The beans have all gone. It's now autumn. No brainer.
Remember that it's not just the nutritional benefit that crop rotation assists in, it's also the prevention of disease. If you're growing the night shade family (i.e. tomatoes, eggplants, capsicum, chilies and potatoes) in the same spot year in, year out, it makes the patch more susceptible to root knot nematodes. Rotating a different family of crops for a season or two will help lessen that risk and ensure that your patch remains as productive as it can be.
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