Gardening with Children

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Crop Rotation Using a Raised Bed System – Everything You Need to Know

Date Posted: 20 January 2011

Now is the perfect time of year to plan the vegetable garden for the growing year ahead and crop rotation is key if you want to avoid the build-up of diseases and pests in the soil. Plus legumes such as beans and peas fix nitrogen from the air, enriching the soil with nitrates and reducing the need for fertilizer. By moving these types of plants around they benefit the whole vegetable garden over time.

To set up your own crop rotation system, divide your growing area up into areas – if you garden using a raised bed system this is easy to do.
 
 
Next group your crops into vegetable families to suit your growing needs. For example:
  • root crops i.e. potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beetroot
  • brassicas including cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower
  • legumes such as peas, beans
  • onions, spring onions and leeks
Each of these groups can then have their own raised bed or beds each year, with crops such as lettuces and rocket sown between the rows. Make a note of what is grown in each raised bed each season as its amazing how quickly you can forget!
 
Every year move the vegetable families into a new raised bed. Give some thought to the growing needs of each vegetable family. This doesn’t have to be too complex but for example potatoes prefer acid soil, whereas cabbages prefer alkaline, so if you add lime before growing your cabbage crop avoid growing potatoes in that area for as long as possible afterwards.
 
By having 5 or more raised beds this provides a gap of several years before each crop returns to its original growing bed. However the longer a crop rotation lasts, the better and eight to ten years is ideal. 
 
The crop rotation can also include a crop of green manure. If there is space a raised bed can be set aside with green manure for a growing season or more. This will improve the soils quality and fertility. 
 
Raised beds offer the perfect way to set up a crop rotation system. For our excellent range of raised beds including a large selection of sizes and depths click here. All are made from FSC wood and are super-easy to assemble. …And we only ever use wood which is slow-grown in the northernmost part of Europe for tight grain and long lasting properties!

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