Now that you have a healthy bunch of mini plants just chomping at the bit to get out there and settle into your veg patch, attention can turn to just how you’re going to maximise your veg growing space.



Crop rotation
is all about getting the most bang from your gardening buck. Rotating crops means growing seasonal veggies in select groups at the right time of year. This has the added benefit, of course, of deterring persistent plant-specific pests. Because you’ll be rotating what you grow, pests don’t get a chance to really get established and make an impact.
 

Crop rotation also helps keep pesky weeds at bay and improves your soil as different nutrients are drawn upon by different plants.

Rotation works best with annual vegetables and if you’re thinking of giving it a go, it pays to make do some research and planning before hand with a handy seed catalogue.

Before you get started, you will need to section up the area in which you plan to grow your veggies. This can be done in your pre-existing growing area, or you could get hold of one of our ready-sectioned veg beds.

Grouping

The first stage of crop rotation is knowing how to group your veggies. Veggies that hang out in the same gang, like peas and beans go together in one group (a.k.a. the legume family). Onions, leeks, garlic and co are like-minded folk and go in another (otherwise known as the onion family). This is where your research comes in – make sure you know, before you get started, which veggies you want to grow, and which groups they belong in. A little tricky at first, but it will become second nature once you get cracking.

Rotation

If you number each section of your growing area (section 1, section 2 etc.), rotating your plants is easy enough. In year one, plant your section 1 plants in section1, in year two, plant the section one plants in section two  - a little bit like vegetable chess moving one section forward each year. For more information, check out this page, which contains a lot more information and a decent three-year rotation plan.

Tips

As well as working out what you want to grow, you also need to decide how much of each crop you want to produce. For example, knowing that you want tons of runner beans, and fewer carrots before you plant up helps to make sure the crop rotation system works for you – and your garden.

In summary, crop rotation is a great way to maximise your veg plot. It’s also a brilliant way to improve your soil, make life difficult for pests, and helps in the ever-running battle that is weeding.

Making sure your plot has plenty of well-rotted manure and knowing just how to rotate your crops year after year, is just one of the ways you can ensure you are gardening in an ecologically friendly way. Reducing harmful chemicals and reducing pesticide use really is the smart gardener’s choice.

So, choose your carrots, opt for your leeks and get out there and start rotating those crops!