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Planning Your Veg Garden

By Helen Wand.

I know, the idea of planning your patch properly doesn't exactly stir the soul, but I'm afraid to grow organic veg effectively, it really is essential. The only purpose of this plan, is to ensure you don't continue planting the same crop, in the same spot, year after year. So no great artistry is required here.
The reasoning behind all this, is basically a system called crop rotation. This ensures that diseases / conditions such as Potato Blight and Club Root, which can remain in the soil for up to seven years, are not encouraged. Also certain crops are far greedier, for soil nutrients, than others. So by rotating your crops, you allow your soil to regenerate. Assuming you have the room to do so, it is also a very good idea to add a 'green manure' crop as part of this rotation. Such as Clover, Alfalfa, Bitter Blue Lupins, Trefoil, Vetches, Fenugreek and Phacelia Tanacetifolia. These green manures fix nutrients from the soil, which can be used by other plants, as well as adding bulk and organic matter to the soil, when they are dug, or rotovated in. Most seed suppliers sell at least a few green manures, but I'll give you a few links at the end just in case.
Another reason for rotating your crops, is that some crops do actually benefit from being following by certain other food crops. So without getting too technical, or scientific, it might be worth keeping that in mind. Also by making a plan, and recording the varieties of crops you have used, you can ensure that you grow, and thereby test lots of different ones. This allows you to experiment and find out the best tasting, the best performing in your locality and the most adaptable to the varied and 'interesting' weather, many of us now experience these days.

One way to make things more fun and involve the kids, is to take photos of your plot at different times during the growing. This will be of great help later, when you are sitting by the fire the following January doing your planning. Especially if the two year old used last years plan for art practice, or like most mortals you just didn't get round to making one in the first place. Planning also helps you to be a little realistic about how many potatoes your family can, or will, actually eat in one year, as well as how much time you can spend. So how do you actually do it, simply measure your plot, either with a tape or just pace it out, and translate this on to paper, making a drawing roughly the same shape, make a note of which crop went where, by drawing in the rows, and don't forget the variety. If your draftsmanship's not up to much, or you can't remember what crop was planted where, this is where the photos can be helpful.

Now that you've done last years, it's time to do next years. But before you get drawing, there is one other thing you may wish to take into account. Did you plant your rows too close together last year, and found you had to tip toe between them? If so then allow a bit more room, it will make the hoeing and weeding much easier. And who knows you might even get the kids to do a bit, or the less than keen other half?


Happy vegging!


See Also
Now to those links / numbers for green manure + other organic info:
* Edwin Tucker & Sons
Tel: +44 (0)1364 652403
Fax: +44 (0)1364 65400
* Suffolk Herbs
* Thompson Morgan
* UK Soil Association
US & Canada
* Dam Seeds
* Johnny's Seeds
* Bountiful Gardens







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