Crop rotation is just that – rotating crops, so that no bed or plot sees the same crop family in successive seasons. Crop rotation holds the following benefits:
- Reduces the build up of pests and diseases in the soil by removing their preferred host and therefore breaking the pest or disease’s lifecycle.
- Manages soil pH and nutrient levels, to help your vegetables get the most out of your soil. Use of composts, manures, lime and fertilisers at the right times will benefit successive crops.
- Building soil. Using organic matter, your own compost and growing green manure crops to add nitrogen keeps your soil healthy and working – good soil is the key to producing great crops.
How crop rotation works
Following is an example cycle of one bed through the seasons.
These will grow in soil of average fertility. They will leave traces of nitrogen in the soil which will be used by the crops that succeed them. Do not pull the plants up but cut them back at soil level leaving roots in the soil for added N.
Common plants include: beans (bush and climbing), (dwarf and climbing), broad beans.
Leafy green vegetables
These need high levels of nitrogen to grow fast and sweet.
Common plants include: lettuce, silverbeet, chard, cabbage, celery, chicory, endive, spinach, chinese greens.
These require a humus-rich soil with a balanced fertility.
Common plants include: tomato, chilli, capsicum, corn, cucumber, eggplant, squash, pumpkin, melon
These require less of nitrogen, but more potassium for good root growth. Do NOT add Nitrogen to soil prior to planting.
Common plants include: potato, radish, onion, carrot, beets, turnips, swede