When starting a kitchen garden, we focus a lot on plants and yields. What do I like to eat? What do I want to grow? As time with dirt up your nails increases you tend to get more focused on the soil and its needs – then the plants take care of themselves. Part of this acknowledgement is realising it’s actually a pretty amazing thing to grow such high nutrient food year after year in plain old ‘dirt’. But it’s not all a oneway street. Soil gets depleted of elements and especially the three majors: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. We can work around this natural cycle though, by planting in tune with the soil’s fertility. Additionally, by moving plant families around, you’re less likely to have problems with soil borne diseases and other pests.
We are family
To effectively use crop rotation we have to understand the different plant families. Some of our veggies are fairly obviously related e.g. carrot and parsnip. Some are less so…think potatoes and tomatoes or beetroot and spinach.
Here is a quick run down:
Onion Family (Alliaceae)
Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Shallots
Cabbage Family (Brassicaceae)
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Bok Choy and other asian greens, Radish, Swede and Turnips
Carrot Family (Apiaceae)
Carrot, Celeriac, Celery, Fennel, Dill, Parsley, Parsnip
Potato Family (Solanaceae)
Eggplant, Capsicum, Chillies, Potato, Tomato
Marrow Family (Curcubitaceae)
Cucumber, Zucchini, Melons, Pumpkin, Squash
Bean and Pea Family (Leguminosae/Fabaceae)
Alfalfa, Beans, Clover, Fenugreek, Lupin, Peas
Daisy Family (Compositae/Asteraceae)
Lettuce, Chicory, Endive, Jerusalem Artichoke, Salsify
Now we categorise our veggies according to the parts we eat (basically).
Bean and Pea Family
Let’s get started
Know we’re armed with all this knowledge we can start to plan our beds. To start with a four-bed system is a good idea and if you don’t have separate garden beds you can simply divide a large patch into four. It’s also a good idea to throw a little lime on the soil after the ‘fruit’ season as this will sweeten the soil for root crops.
|Season One||Season Two||Season Three||Season Four|
|Bed One||Peas or Beans||Leaf||Fruit||Root|
|Bed Two||Leaf||Fruit||Root||Peas or Beans|
|Bed Three||Root||Peas or Beans||Leaf||Fruit|
|Bed Four||Fruit||Root||Peas or Beans||Leaf|