In Mort Bay Community Garden we grow a wide variety of crops, which all need a plant-specific set of nutrients and are challenged by different pests.
Growing a sequence of different types of crops in any one bed over subsequent seasons is called crop rotation, a strategy already practised by Middle Eastern farmers 8000 years ago, to maintain a productive and healthy soil.
Growing the same type of plant repeatedly in one spot
- depletes the soil of the nutrients that this specific plant needs and will finally lead to an imbalance in the soil
- will lead to a build-up of soil-borne pathogens and pests that are associated with that particular crop
We classify or crops by plant family and growing properties into the following groups. We aim for a planting sequence where plants out of any one group are only planted every fourth season in the same spot.
- gourds or cucurbits
- nightshades or solanums
- cabbages or brassicas
- onions or alliums
- leafy greens
- root vegetables
There are several factors, that we consider when we plan the crop rotation:
- crops from the gourd and the nightshade family only thrive in the warm months of the year and need long days with lots of sun
- leafy greens, like lettuces will bolt very quickly in hot summer conditions, they thrive best in Spring and Autumn
- root vegetables and alliums work very well together, they prefer a cooler season, but picking the right cultivar makes them thrive in Summer as well
- root vegetables like a nutrient poor soil, they shouldn’t be planted after legumes, they work very well after cabbages
- most brassicas thrive best in cooler seasons
- cabbages, gourds and nightshades are heavy feeders
- legumes add nitrogen back to the soil, if the roots are left to rot in the bed after harvest
The diagram shows an example of a crop rotation plan that takes all these considerations into account.