Notes on Crop Rotation

Jonathan, Nuthurst Community Allotment, April 2021

The whole point of crop rotation is to avoid a build-up of pests and diseases and to keep the soil as healthy as possible. Rotation means moving vegetables around the allotment in succession, and not growing the same ones in the same place every year.

Most pundits advise a four-fold rotation of roots, brassicas, potatoes and miscellaneous vegetables. The problem with strict rules like this is that we would end up dividing the allotment into specific areas, which means that we’d grow fixed amounts of certain crops every year.

So, it’s better – especially in a community allotment – to keep a record of what we’ve grown and where, and try to avoid growing the same vegetables in each particular place for as long as possible and, most important, to keep adding plenty of organic matter to the soil before planting each crop, so as to build up the health of the soil.

Here’s a list of some vegetables which share the same characteristics:

Brassicas: (Cabbage family), cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussel sprouts, calabrese, broccoli, kale, rocket, oriental greens, swedes, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi.

Alliums: (Onion family), onions, spring onions, shallots, leeks, garlic, chives.

Umbellifers: (Carrot family), carrots, parsnips, celeriac, celery, parsley, fennel, dill.

Solanaceae: (Potato family), potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, chillis, aubergines.

Cucurbitaceae: (Marrow family), cucumbers, melons, courgettes, marrows, squashes, pumpkins, gourds.

Legumes: (Pea and Bean family), peas, broad beans, runner beans, French beans.

Beet: (Beetroot family), beetroot, spinach, chard, spinach beet.

Miscellaneous: Lettuce, chicory, endive, basil, sweet corn, Jerusalem artichokes.

We don’t have to worry about perennial vegetables and fruit, because once their roots are established, they’ll survive the Winter and start growing leaves in the following Spring.

Here’s a list of some perennials we could grow: rhubarb, asparagus, globe artichokes, raspberries, strawberries.

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