Archive for the ‘Rotation’ Category

THE ORGANIC WALLED GARDEN AT LISSADELL IN SLIGO THE MOST ATTRACTIVE AND PRODUCTIVE 2.2 ACRES I HAVE SEEN – FIRST WEEK IN SEPTEMBER 2010

Any visit to Sligo would not be complete without a visit to Lissadell House and Gardens. After a hearty breakfast at Seashore B&B nearby, the Saturday was clear to meet up with Dermot Carey, the dedicated and very talented head gardener at Lissadell. The walled garden has recently been awarded full organic certification and is a brilliant show-case for organic growing methods.

The rotation of crop families is followed but on this scale and with this diversity of crops it needs some explanation for the casual visitor. the diversity of colour and vegetable types is what strikes a visitor as truly impressive.

APRIL OVERVIEW OF GARDEN SHOWING PRINCIPLES OF CROP ROTATION – FIRST WEEK IN APRIL 2010

At last the sun is shining and the heat is like a long lost friend. Soil temperatures are still low and a touch of frost at night stops me from leaving greenhouse seedlings out at night. However, I put the  greenhouse seedtrays out during the day once seedlings are close to being of a size when they should be ready for planting in the soil. It helps to harden them off this way so they are not so shocked by being transplanted into the open soil.

The open soil in the kitchen garden is largely divided into four plots for separate vegetable families that I like to eat. (1) beet family eg beetroot and leaf beet. (2)brassicas eg kale, Brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli and cabbage. (3) legumes eg peas and beans, I put sweet pea in here too for a bit of colour. (4) alliums eg onions, leeks, garlic and shallots. I’m told that repeatedly growing the same crop in the one place year after year risks attracting a disease or pest which likes that crop. For example, brassicas can get clubroot. However that means no brassicas can be grown for maybe 25 years in that place. As with all things in life, prevention is better than cure. The video below may be of interest meanwhile.

GOOD WAY TO REMEMBER ROTATION PLAN – THIRD WEEK IN OCTOBER 2009

The growing interest in amenity fruit and vegetable growing has given rise to the mushrooming of initiatives such as www.giyireland.com. In Balbriggan the local Horticultural Society has launched a course of workshops on vegetable growing co-ordinated by committee member, great local gardener [and indeed chef] Judith Chavasse. Her neighbour and veg growing expert Dave gave the first lecture. He emphasised the importance of laying out the growing area, ideally in six patches. One of the patches is for permanent crops like rhubarb (which can be planted now) or asparagus or blackcurrants, raspberries etc.

Five different families of vegetables are rotated annually around the  other five patches. There is now an easy way to remember which crop goes in the first patch, which in the second, third and so on. The aide memoire is ‘People Love Bunches Of Roses‘ which gives P-L-B-O-R. So plant potato family crops in the first patch, legumes in the second, brassicas in third, onion family and leeks etc in fourth and root crop in the fifth. When root crops are harvested, that patch gets enriched with compost and/or manure again to take the seed potatoes the next Spring. The same order is observed with each crop family moving up one patch in the rotation.

Thank you to Dave and the Balbriggan and District Horticultural Society for taking the guesswork out of which comes first in a rotation, legumes or brassicas!