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Crop rotation

Practice crop rotation in the vegetable garden because it seems to be the most natural way to get good healthy crops. For small areas 4 beds are a good compromise, for those who have more space a special bed for potatoes and green manure may be added to clean and rest the soil.

The 1st year : Green manure

crop rotation At the start there is nothing, if you have a heavy soil it must be turned in autumn, a light soil must be turned during the spring. For the first year I recommend planting potatoes on all the vegetable plot, this will "cleanse" the land. At the end of the season sow mustard on all the vegetable plot as a green manure.

2nd year : The seed vegetables (bed n°1)

crop rotation This is the bed of the legumes, the fabaceas and the chenopodiaceaes. These vegetables have the ability to cleanse the soil. The peas and broad beans occupy the soil very early in the spring. Much later in summer it will be the bed for the French beans. At the end of the season winter spinach should be grown as a green manure. All these vegetables have the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil.

3rd year : The leaf vegetables (bed n°2)

crop rotation Since nitrogen in quantity is present in the soil, the "leaf" vegetables should be planted. This is the bed of the brassicas and the compositaes, such as lettuce, chicory, globe artichokes and potatoes, (if they are not in their own special bed). If you have only made 4 beds, then although the potato is a solanaceae like the tomato, place it in this bed. It associates very well with the cabbage and very badly with the tomato. In springtime, to use the land I re-sow very early with spinach, I cover it with horticultural fleece to help it grow. In summer the cabbage starts its development along with the lettuce until the end of autumn. Into winter for Brussel sprouts and chicory. Eventually cucumbers, celery and turnips can be planted here. In the autumn another crucifer, the mustard can occupy the available space, It is possible to sow this until October..

4th year : The root vegetables (bed n°3)

crop rotation The cultivation of cabbage is particularly exhausting, this falls well, the lilaceaes and the umbelliferaes will draw the elements essential for their development deeply from the soil. Early in the season carrots, onions, radishes and shallots occupy the land. Later, leeks, beets, endives and fennel can join them. At the end of the season lambs lettuce can occupy the spaces left empty.

5th year : The potatoes (bed n°4)

rotation des culturesThis then is the bed which will give more if you can make a 5 year rotation. The potato is a plant which "cleanses" the soil. It can be associated with ricin, amarante and tetragonia. At the end of summer plant white clover to cleanse the earth. If you have only a little space then make a 4 year rotation, pass directly to the following bed...

6th year : The fruiting vegetables (bed n°5)

crop rotation Now the land is clean we must feed it, in spring compost is spread over this bed which will be planted with the solanaceae family (excluding potatoes) and gourds. This is the area of the tomatoes, squash and corn. At the end of the season, sow mustard as a green manure.

AND THE FLOWERS ?

crop rotation crop rotation crop rotation

The flowers of course have their place in this type of garden. There are already flowers to cut: dahlias, anthemis, gladioli, sunflowers... Planting tagetes (marigolds) in the border near to the beans, carrots and cabbages will help deter the insects. There are problems associated with carrots and root vegetables, in general sow the tagetes with the beans, the antirrhinums with the tomatoes. The nasturtiums attract the aphids and keep away the whitefly and ants. Sow them in the border close to the beans. The dwarf chrysanthemums, cosmos, rudbeckia, lavender, borrage, phacelia and the tanacetum can also be used in the garden.

Garlic and chives repel aphids and delay the onset of black spot on roses. Sage deters the cabbage moth from laying its eggs on the cabbage plants and camomile stimulates diseased plants. Valerian stimulates earthworms and repels rodents. Borrage is a nectar giving plant which attracts the bees who pollinate the tomatoes, marrows and strawberries.

Finally the green manure like the phacelia and the buckwheat, and the aromatics, such as fennel and dill, all find their place in the natural garden. The fundamental principles of this type of cultivation are understood. It is important to use as much of the land as possible to stop the proliferation of weeds, also the soil should not be turned too deeply.

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