• Alison Murray

Things to do in the garden during lockdown, day 11: plan the veg beds

Crop rotation is a key part of vegetable gardening. It maximises yield and keeps your veg plot healthy. Plan you beds now and keep a record so you know what to plant where next year.

The benefits of crop rotation are:

  • it reduces the build up of pests and diseases. These nasties can linger in the same spot for many years. Rotating your veg helps pests decline and reduces build up of spores and eggs.

  • Balances nutrient requirement. Each crop will have specific nutrient requirements. Rotating stops one crop leaving a dearth of nutrients in one location. Legumes (peas and beans) also have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria. Together they form root nodules and turn nitrogen in the air into nitrogen compounds used as nutrients by plants. Crops like brassicas are hungry monkeys and suck nitrogen compounds out of the soil.

  • It reduces the need to add nutrients and chemicals.

Hence brassicas always follow legumes in your crop rotation pattern.


1. Brassicas Roots and other crops Legumes

2. Legumes Brassicas Roots and other crops

3. Roots and other crops. Legumes Brassicas

If you've got four veg beds split your roots and shoot crops up. I have a few small spaces where I normally manage to muscle in some extras.

I have had trouble with carrot fly in the middle bed (no. 2) and they don't grow well in bed 1 or in the smaller beds as these are in the shade. Beds 2 and 3 are in the sun so I shuffle carrots between the two and from end to end.

I like to keep my notes in a book rather than on an app. I keep a track of when I have planted or sown seeds into a bed and notes of how the crops fare. I can then look back and change cultivar or even skip a year of a particular crop if pests or disease gets bad. When it comes to planting I do tend to shuffle things about a bit depending on space, but I never repeat plant into any one spot, and always keep to the legume then brassica rule.

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