Planting plan and crop rotation
Planning your planting
To grow vegetables organically, it’s important to plan what to grow and when - known as crop rotation. Changing where you grow each vegetable from year to year helps maintain good soil structure, ensures sufficient nutrients, helps to control weeds, and prevents a build up of pests and diseases.
You can devise your own rotation, just remember to keep a record of what you have grown, where and when. We show below a typical crop rotation process, which also includes when to add compost or grow green manures.
First, divide your growing area into four or more sections. Then divide your crops into families (see below). If you keep the plants in these families together (such as potatoes and tomatoes), but move them around the different sections each year, you will have a successful crop rotation.
- Alliums: Onion, garlic, shallot, leek
- Brassicas: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohl-rabi, oriental greens, radish, swede and turnips
- Cucurbitaceae: courgettes, marrows
- Legumes: Peas, broad beans, French and runner beans
- Potato (Solanum): Potato, tomato
- Roots: Beetroot, carrot, celeriac, celery, Florence fennel, parsley, parsnip (nb swedes and turnips are brassicas)
Here is a simple chart which shows an example of a 4-year rotation. It includes includes over winter planting, and when to apply compost and grow green manures. Don't forget to leave space for perennials – such as rhubarb and asparagus – as well as many herbs, such as thyme, marjoram and mint (although the latter is best grown in a container to prevent it spreading!)