I’m a big planner. I love knowing exactly what I need to do next. Like Hannibal from the A-Team…
“I love it when a plan comes together.”
Without a plan, my mind turns to idle chatter and I very quickly go off in all directions chasing all the shiny things. Or rather, all the weird and wonderful seeds in the catalogues, without having a real idea of where I am going to put everything and when.
I end up making a big mess.
Which is why I have created a Garden Journal. It keeps me focused. I have a place to park all my ideas, visions, to-dos, logs and records.
If you are an A Farm of Your Home Subscriber, you know exactly the journal I am talking about!
If you are not already a Subscriber to A Farm of Your Home, sign up now and I’ll also send you the access password to the exclusive Resource Library via email.
I have also included a downloadable diagram of the Crop Rotation Planting Guide for you in the Resource Library to print and stash in your Garden Journal!
The fact is a little effort and planning at the beginning of the garden design process will make execution much easier and pay off many times over in the coming years.
What is Crop Rotation Planting?
Crop rotation or succession planting ensures that what one plant takes nutritionally from the soil, the next planting replaces. The practice also ensures that pests do not have an opportunity to establish themselves. Successive plantings create a continuous cycle of plants with the aim of keeping the soil alive and the plants thriving all year round.
While it may appear that crop rotation is primarily for the health of the plants, it is essential to remember that your soil is alive too. The very best seed planted in tired, undernourished soil will not thrive to its full potential.
Applying the following crop rotation system into my planting plan ensures I know exactly what to plant after another plant has been harvested. No more guessing, I can plan ahead with confidence.
The important thing is, follow the order of the rotation.
Think of crop rotation like a clock face. Don’t go backwards, and plant leaves after fruits. Don’t double up and plant fruits after fruits, or legumes after legumes.
Fruits follow leaves.
Fruiting crops include tomatoes, eggplants, corn, artichokes, capsicum, chillis, cucumber, luffa, pumpkins, melons, okra, zucchini, squash, sunflowers and tomatillos and you get the idea.
Some of these fruiting crops like cucumber, squash, zuchinni and pumpkins grow well in the cooler wet months, established chillis, baby tomatoes, cape gooseberries and sunflowers can handle hotter, drier weather.
Roots follow fruits.
Root crops include carrots, beetroot, celeriac, garlic, onion, potato, sweet potato, radish, Jerusalem artichokes, daikon and parsnip.
The potatoes, beetroot, celeriac, grow best in the cool winter months, and I know Jerusalem artichokes and sweet potatoes will thrive in my hot summer months.
Legumes follow roots.
Legumes are nitrogen converting plants. Legumes include peas, beans, cowpeas, peanuts, fenugreek, lentils, chickpeas, clover, carob and indigo.
Peas and beans are best grown in the cooler months. Yet, I know I can rely on the cowpeas and peanuts to get me through the hottest summer.
Leaf crops or Fallow follow Roots.
A fallow or rest period gives the soil a chance to recover with a good application of compost and mulch.
I have an enforced fallow in the height of our hot summers when I conserve water and focus on keeping my perennials thriving in the heat.
Fallow is not the same as ignored. A fallow bed still needs your attention. Water it. Weed it. Tend to it as if it was a garden bed full of living things because it is.
But, if it is the middle of my rainy winter-spring, and still cool, you can bet I’m going to go from legumes, straight to leaf and skip the fallow period.
Leaf follows legume or fallow
Leaves are nitrogen-hungry plants, like spinach, lettuces, celery, fennel, pak choy, silverbeet and collards. I also include cruciferous plants in this category, like kale, kolrabi, broccoli, cabbage, because they are also nutritionally demanding crops.
My heat tolerant leaf crops include Malabar spinach, but even that is not indestructible. If a leaf crop is in line for succession planting during the peak of summer, I go fallow and wait for the weather to cool before planting again.
And we arrive back at the beginning of the crop rotation cycle with fruits following leaves.
Each cycle typically brings its own unique crowd of pests, bacteria and virus risks, which is why companion planting is also an important part of the planning process, which is a post for another time.
Plus, I have not even touched on the benefits of no-till gardening when using crop rotation planting, again, another post for another time!
So stay tuned!
How about you? Do you use succession planting in your veggie garden, or have you found it all a bit too complicated? I would love to hear what’s happening in your garden, please leave a message below.