Crop rotation

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Letsgokate, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Have some questions re crop rotation. I have read that things like tomatoes, brassica, potatoes are not supposed to be regrown in the same bed to help stop diseases, and a 3 year rotation schedule is recommended.

    Brassica is such a large family that can be grown over many seasons, for sub tropical tomatoes can also be grown over different seasons. So I think it's going hard for me to put these families in totally different beds for 3 years. At present all my beds have things growing in them, obviously not all from the same family.

    So is crop rotation really necessary?
    What is the shortest time you could keep a family out of the same bed? Eg 2yrs?
    Are there other things you can do to not have to worry about crop rotation?
    If crop rotating does that mean per season or crop. Eg if I've had cabbages growing in a bed that has come out can I grow another lot of cabbages or broccoli in the same bed this season?

    Can you reuse soil say for spuds used in smaller containers/beds and put it on say a bed that has brassica?
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  2. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Anyone?
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Hi @letsgo,

    It's a good question that I'm interested in too.
    I'm looking at either two or three veggie areas that I can rotate through but like you I'm not too sure on the validity of the logic.
    You see 'crop rotation' written everywhere but in reality I think a lot of people dont have the luxury of having the room to do such, and they still seem to have good crops.
    I'd like to see an experiment of a site that didn't rotate crops and then did rotate crops and see the difference. This experiment would take years and years to complete so I doubt many would be willing.
    Its a tough one.
    Personally I think it's one of things that if you can you should but it really probably wont make a huge difference.
    But hey, I've never tested it so what would I know....?

    Cheers :cheers:
     
  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    It's supposed to be a 6yr rotation. Well that's the theory anyway & like you say almost impossible to do if you have left over plants in your beds.
    So do your best to keep them in different beds for at least 3yrs.
    This is due to things like nematodes & various root fungi that get established in the soil if you don't rotate. They take longer than one season but less than 2 seasons to reproduce so if the same type of plant is growing in the soil they are reproducing in, they hatch to a suitable food source so get established & do lots of damage.
    The old fashioned 6bed rotation method was supposed to address this very situation but that was in the day when there was only 1 type of brassica that would grow each season. Now we have multiple types of lots of veg so it is a different situation now.
    Also that rotation method was supposed to address the use by the plants of various nutrients from the soil & changes in pH. However again, these days we can just add yet more compost or fertilizer to solve that problem too.

    The other way to do it is to mix up all plants in every bed to keep the bio life & balance of goodies & baddies as diverse as possible all the time. That's pretty much what I do. Sometimes I have a miss. I just keep adding compost & fertilizer every time I add new plants.
    Growing plants such as nasturtiums in your beds will help 'fumigate' the soil & they also fill the role of green mulch & compost builder when they get too big for their boots!
    But if you are a 'tidy' gardener who likes straight rows etc, you will hate to have such an untidy set of garden beds & won't enjoy that 'all in together' method.
     
  5. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    All the info I can find these days is for 3yrs for crop rotation. Some info I found said that with raised beds where you were topping up the soil and adding nutrients that were used for the last crop etc that crop rotation wasn't as important.

    I think this could be an option in my situation. As I have irrigation on the beds I don't like to have half a bed full and then the other half is being irritated with nothing in it, so it could be a win win.

    I think tomatoes are the biggest issue as I want to grow lots of them and preserve them. Even in winter I am still having caterpillars getting them. So I'm considering a hoop house for tomatoes and capsicums maybe growing them in large pots that I can tip the soil out of after each plant has finished. Revitalise it and use it somewhere else to top up the raised beds. And put new soil in the tomato pots. Just an idea at this stage. But if I do that it will give me more beds to use for rotation.

    Unless you have heaps of beds and room I think all any of us can do is rotate crops as best we can.
     
  6. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I asked One Yard Revolution on his FaceBook page. He grows a lot of veggies in a small area in the UK. Below is his reply, which is also along the same lines of what @ClissAT Said

    Hi Kate! Growing in polycultures of unrelated crops helps reduce the need for crop rotation, but I do try to not plant tomatoes, squash, and potatoes in the same place in consecutive years.
     
  7. Mataeka

    Mataeka Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I guess being mostly pot based at this stage I'm in a different situation - but I've been chucking my soil into compost after it's done and then using another source of compost to kinda revitalise it - which I think it more of a necessity in pots - but could plausibly be done on a larger scale if you had sufficient compost pits?

    Interested in other ideas though - always keen to learn for the future :)
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I agree with Patrick and personally, I don't think about it too deeply except to be thoughtful of not planting the same crop in the same bed two years in a row. I have noticed better results by rotating crops and I have seen the problems associated with a build up of pests (particularly in soil - such as borers or nematodes) when certain crops are kept in the same bed for several years running.

    There are certain crops that I don't rotate as much such as perennials like herbs or some chillies etc that I keep for several years in the one location. I tend to grow ginger, turmeric, galangal, in the same bed for 2 - 3 years or more - then I have found they do benefit from a change of location.

    I usually rotate tomatoes, brassicas, eggplant, corn, peas, carrots, beets, beans and most annuals.

    Having said that, I also have seen crops like tomatoes grown in the same spot over and over successfully - old style Italian gardening by crushing the end of season tomatoes back into the ground and letting them regrow next spring.

    Perhaps the colder climates need less crop rotation due to the natural rest the beds get over winter. Whereas, in warmer climates, it's possible to keep growing in the same bed all year round.

    I don't use a strict crop rotation plan I just remember what was grown over the past 12 months in a certain bed and try not to repeat it. Every few years I rest a bed completely for several months without growing anything in it. I just add compost and mulch or sometimes cover it with a tarp and leave it sit. This gives the bed time to rejuvenate and any soil pests that typically feed on live plants die out.
     
  9. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thanks Mark,

    I'm growing my spuds in a separate bed I can lift up and sort through and then will reuse that soil on a none tom, cap, spud bed.

    I'm also toying with the idea of building a hoop house that is fruit fly free for tomatoes, capsicums and growing them in pots and then reuse that soil on other beds too, so toms and the like get new soil every time and I recycle the used soils with some extra bits added.

    It's a pain to have to bag toms from fruit fly and caterpillars in summer and then still have to in winter due to the caterpillars.
     
  10. Mataeka

    Mataeka Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I'm so glad for these forums - Where I'm located growing on my balcony we must be too high for fruit flies or maybe just too city as I don't have to contend with those pests. Definitely gives me food for thought for the future - I'd love to see your hoop house if you decide to build it.
     
  11. Kasalia

    Kasalia http://retired2006.blogspot.com.au/ Premium Member

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    If you have a small area and you grow beans or tomatoes on frames the best thing is to move the soil to a different area and replace it with that soil. Crop rotation the soil not the plant.
    Here is a copy of a 3 yr. rough basic Rotation System I have.

    Bed A can be a patch a whole bed or a row. Year 1
    Double Dig with plenty of manure and compost
    Plant Legumes - Alium crops
    Beans broad beans,peas,onions,garlic,celeriac, kohl rabi,

    Bed B - Year 1
    Dig Deep - add manure or compost or apply organic spring fertilizer.
    Solanaceae Family and Roots and tuberous crops
    Potatoes,tomatoes,peppers,
    carrots and parsnips (don't manure)
    also lettuce and radish between crops if room

    Bed C - Year 1
    Single dig and add lime well
    Brassicas
    cabbagge,cauliflowers,brussel sprouts, broccoli, pak choy

    Year one A B C
    Year two C A B
    Year Three B C A

    Succession Planting to work in with this, for always filling the space. I work on one season that is winter crops and summer crops.
    eg. Pull out beans when just finished and put a 2nd crop in before end of season.

    1.Make a list of everything you want to grow.
    2.Write next to that how long each seed takes to mature (on back of seed pack or google) and season. Allow for picking time extra by a couple of weeks.
    3. Work out how long will seeds take to come up then prick out into a bigger pot before planting. I Allow 4 - 6 weeks. You can then start your next lot when planted or sooner like every 2 weeks, if you only do say 6 lettuce, then start another 6 lettuce 2 weeks later, assuming you have eaten the first lot just before the 2nd lot mature and so on.

    So in a nutshell ....Work out when to plant seeds adding 4 - 6 weeks to plant seedlings in garden, then how long it stays there before ripping out and planting something new.

    4.Go to calendar and write up, per week each step for each lot of seeds.
    Check frost dates as well if you have any, don't plant anything likely to die till over. Easy peasy :heat::quiver::readit:
     
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  12. Kasalia

    Kasalia http://retired2006.blogspot.com.au/ Premium Member

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  13. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Nice one @Kasalia. Thanks for posting that, might have to print that out....:maketinker:
     
  14. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    How detailed is that, Kasalia? Well done and thanks for sharing.
     
  15. LeafMeAlone

    LeafMeAlone Member Premium Member GOLD

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    This is an interesting one, and I've been struggling with it too, recently. I've had some bad experiences in the past and after much searching realised it was probably a lack of crop rotation (my poor tomatoes :( ). As for specifics, you mentioned it varies between crop / crop families. While it's focused more on agriculture / farming, I've found this post on soil pests has some great info re: different crops and the need for crop rotation.

    TL;DR: Planting in the same soil leads to all kinds of nematodes and other nasties taking hold. Most tend to feed on the leftover plant materials / scraps. So things like ensuring you clear the soil of any organic material etc between planting is a good idea.

    I mostly try and plan ahead, and think about what crops I can rotate in / out over time while my current crops are still growing. It sucks a little as it means I can't go ham year-in, year-out (is it too much to ask for a freezer of preserved tomato sauces?), but it keeps you on your toes and keeps the recipe book in work, at least ;)
     
  16. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Wow that's great. Thanks

    I've actually done up a gardening diary that lists all the seeds of planted, when, where, type, where purchased, expected harvest times etc plus room for notes.

    Also have a plant section so once the seeds grow or are planted out I out details in here, again when, where, type, if they were seedlings or seeds, harvest date, actual harvest date, notes which would include success, failures, if I like the crop, pests, fertilizing etc etc.

    So I can keep track of what I did and where, what was successful what wasn't. Where I planted things for any crop rotation. If I like the crop, whether I do would it again etc etc.
     
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  17. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Letsgo, just be careful once the season turns to being moist that your fruit fly exclusion hoop house doesn't build up too much moisture & cause rot in the tomatoes.
    Or if you irrigate you will get the same result, a build up of moisture. Tomatoes need clear air flow.
    Even that white knitted bird mess can retain too much moisture in the wet season.
     
  18. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I'm still with the fence sitters on this. My Italian "Nonna-in-law" grew tomatoes in one spot for decades...bumper crops, no problems. She always heaped soil up around their base -deep planting works well for tomatoes- and pruned them heavily. There was lots of mulching.
    Having said that, she lived in Adelaide not Qld.
    On the other hand, I had tried to keep rotating my tomatoes(though not 3yrly)...but they're not as good as hers!
    I have 4 main beds, but they're arranged 2&2, so pests from one could easily move to the second. I grow perennials around these beds and just don't have the space to properly rest beds or have a 3yr rotation. My main problems are from caterpillars and rodents so far, rather than soil borne issues (though this may be yet to come!) I do make a point of investing in mulching, composting, appropriate fertiliser etc.
    Like Kate, I'm still working through what grows best where...but now to add into the mix the next door neighbour's lillypilly hedge is becoming enormous and blocking western sun from about 2 or 3pm. I'll have to wait and see how much more sun I get as we move into summer. Much to my annoyance, I may no longer have a viable veggie patch for around 4months of the year. Not sure what will happen as the hedge gets progressively taller!
     
  19. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Oscar, re the neighbours hedge.... if even one single leaf or 1000 leaves & branches lean over your side, prune them off.
    Its downright disrespectful of neighbours to let their hedges get that tall in closely settled suburbia.
    I know you can't moderate the height, but you are allowed to remove anything that hangs over your side.

    One thing about the way older folks in other countries grew their tomatoes & gardens in general is they added a huge amount of fresh compost made from all sorts of things every season.
    That has the affect of renewing the soil. So instead of moving the crop to a new location, they are putting new soil in the same location. same, same.

    Also the compost is alive so it has a full complement of goodies & baddies all working together plus they would add fumigating herbs to the old bed after removing the old crop & before turning the soil over with the added compost, then leaving it for a few weeks or months before planting the next crop.

    So any baddies in the form of nematodes, fungi & moulds, get a full frontal attack right at the time when they are starving due to the removal of the host tomato plants they were living off. (just taking tomatoes as a case in point). Then they add the new compost & grow a new crop.

    The British method of crop rotation came about as a result of seasonal variations where beds had to be left fallow & plants grown indoors & possibly the lack of fumigating herbs since most would be Mediterranean herbs. We could use stinking roger for example, they would use marigolds.
     
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