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Monday, 08 December 2008 18:25

Tips for growing great organic vegetables

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Crop rotation requires that annual herbs and vegetables are re sown in different areas of the garden each year . Plants grouped according to their nutritional needs and susceptibility to certain pests, are planted together.  This practice helps control pests, diseases and weeds whilst maintaining soil fertility and structure and  boosting plant yield consistently over a number of years.  Certain mold, fungi and insect larvae can winter over in soil so crop rotation is paramount to avoiding persistent problems in the organic garden which are often times host specific.    Hornworm, for example, attacks solanaceous plants including eggplants, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.

There are several schools of thought on crop rotation dependent on your choice of vegetables, the climate and space you have available to name but a few factors for your consideration.   One possible scenario is to plant legumes the first year, brassicas the second, tomatoes the third, onions the fourth and other root vegetables in the fifth year.  If you have a vegetable plot divided into three you may chose a 3 yearly plan versus a five yearly one, which is also one of the most common crop rotation.  This crop rotation schedule was popular in medieval times and was borne of the Roman influence on Britain and Continental Europe.  In plot one plant root vegetables, other vegetables and brassicas annually over the three year period.  In plot two plant other vegetables, root vegetables and brassicas and in plot three plant brassicas, other vegetables and root vegetables over the three years.  Root crops would include beetroot, parsnips, carrots and potatoes, other vegetables; eggplant, beans peppers, celery, cucumber, endive, lettuce, leek, marrow, onion, tomato, sweetcorn, peas and spinach and brassicas; swede, turnip, radish, kohl rhabi, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.

This system is based on some key principles.  Brassicas are heavy feeders for example so planting legumes (peas and beans) in their place the following season is beneficial, as they enrich the soil with nitrogen and contribute to rapid leaf growth. 

With regard to pest control, the practise of crop rotation is best used in combination with companion planting.  Seasoned organic gardeners however will be privy to the persistent pest that can erode you faith in such techniques, no matter how tried and true.  In this regard, understanding the insects habitat can uncover issues that needs personal and specific attention, even sometimes requiring bending of the rules to overcome the problem at hand.  Nothing is ever set in concrete, least of all your garden.  Happy gardening!

Plant

Beans, beetroot, cabbage, capsicums, carrots, celery, courgettes, cucumbers, egg plants, leeks, lettuce, marrows, melons, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, radish, silverbeet, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, herbs.

Harvest

Apples, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, cavalo nero, celeriac, celery, chicory, coriander, courgettes, cherimoya, grapefruit, kale, kiwifruit, kumara, leeks, lemons, lettuce, limes, mandarins, oranges, parsley, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, rhubarb, rocket, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, spring onions, swedes, tangelos, tomatoes