Yesterday we talked about crop rotation and what our possible plans were for 2021. We spoke about crop rotation and why it was important and how the groups of vegetables - brassicas, legumes, onions, potatoes and roots - affected that.
You can read all about that here: From Plot to Plate - crop rotation (trugandlettuce.co.uk)
In addition to that though we went back up to Muriel as we needed to check some measurements before we could finalise our plan. We wanted to work out how many of our International Kidney potatoes we could comfortably get in the bed, and whether we'd be better off with wigwams or lines of canes for our beans.
So, with our measured sketches ever so slightly tidied up we can now reveal these. Our 4 year crop rotations for Muriel Jones. Here's the overall plan for the plot.
In essence we have 3 main beds that are going to be used for vegetable growing. The rest of the plot is used for fruit - we have a fruit cage with gooseberries, black and red currants and some raspberries - and we have three fruit trees planted up - a Victoria plum and Katy and Bramley apple trees. All are on a semi-dwarfing rootstock.
We have some blackberries planted under the apple trees and we have a couple of rhubarb crowns. Just over 2/3rds of the total area is under production - and the allotment committee seem happy with that! The rest of the area is taken up with our compost bins, water tanks (we have 2 that each hold 1000 litres when full) and our two sheds.
Here's our plans for each of those 3 beds:
Now as you can see there are 4 photos. For 3 beds. Why's that? Well read on...........
This year we're growing Broad Beans (The Sutton), 2 types of French Climbing Bean (Purple Cascade and Borlotti) and some dwarf Borlotti Beans (Tintoretto). You can see from the plan that we're growing the legumes over 2 beds.
We're dividing 1 bed into 2 and will be planting our potatoes next to our rows of climbing and dwarf beans. We're also using another bed for our Broad Beans. We're planning to get them in as early as we can and then have them harvested in June. We'll then check the soil and feed it if necessary as we then want to get it back into production for some of our brassicas.
We've not tried that before and it might be that the nutrients that the beans need and will have taken from the soil might affect how well the brassicas grow - but we're going to give it a go and see how we get on. That leads us nicely into......
Initially we're going with a couple of rows of Zen Calabrese, a few rows of Ruby Red Sprouts and a row of Bright Lights Swiss Chard. We'll be planting all of those up over the next few months with a view to hardening them off and transplanting them in the spring.
As we said above we're planning to double up on part of the bed - when those Broad Beans are done we'll check the soil and make sure it's pH values are good for what we'll be about to plant - brassicas don't like an acidic soil. We'll also feed all of them with a high nitrogen liquid feed as they grow so that they can give us lots of nice leafy growth.
And then we'll be planting up our different types of Kale - Dwarf Curly Green, Redbor and Cavolo Nero. A few plants of each. And we'll see how well we're able to grow them straight after that crop of beans. If we beat the rabbits to them this year.
We think it might - just might - work. After all in the 4 year rotation brassicas follow legumes. Whether though they'll be happy following them so quickly only time will tell.
In the past we've grown potatoes in larger areas, and also in containers. This year and with all of the beds in production, we've decided to grow them in just one part of one of the beds.
We've gone again with International Kidneys and we're planting 20 seed potatoes in approximately 4 sq m. They'll be in 4 rows and when it comes to earthing them up we'll simply add compost and well rotted manure to each of the plants - rather than draw soil up and over them. This way we'll be looking after the potatoes and also adding matter to the bed for the following year.
Onions & Roots
Last year we had great success with our Red Baron Onions, so much so we're going with them again this year. We're also planting up a couple of rows of Solent White Garlic, some Sabre Parsnips, Purple Haze Carrots and Boltardy Beetroot.
The garlic will be the first to go in - shortly - followed by the onions - which we grow from sets rather than from seed. We'll then sow the beetroot over several weeks - hopefully in March - succession sowing and directly into the ground - followed by the carrots and parsnips.
And that's the plan. We know that with slightly different sizes for the beds and with some of them being divided then we'll need to adjust the amount of each type of vegetable we'll be able to grow in future years.
It might work. It might not. But we're giving it a go!