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Rotation or location?


I've previously grown veggies in a single dedicated veg patch, but since moving I'm designing the garden slightly differently, with various individual areas that will (should) have combined veg and flowers, hopefully trying to reduce pests and disease with companion planting.

Each area has slightly different conditions. One patch is distinctly more clay than the others, one is more exposed to what can be sharp winds, one has more shade, etc. 

My crops tend to be lots of different brassicas and salads, with some legumes, tomatoes, cucumbers, chard, celery and fennel, currently very few roots/onions. Courgettes and squashes will go along the drive in separate individual beds, and the current plan is to rotate the tall plants (climbers and taller brassicas) on a 3 year cycle. But what to do with the rest?

Would you prioritise rotatating or suitable location? On the one hand I want to rotate, especially the brassicas, but then I'll end up putting the salads in full sun. What are your thoughts?

Many thanks


  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,311
    If you're going to combine flowers and veg then rotation should not be a major issue.
    Crops are rotated due to a possible build-up of pathogens in the soil caused by growing the same family of plants in the same place year after year.
    If you introduce flowers etc that will to some extent mitigate the problem.
    This was demonstrated by the peerless Geoff Hamilton in his Cottage Gardens series many years ago where he does exactly as you propose where he builds a stunning cottage garden from a bare patch of land.

    I think brassicas are the most susceptible as you're aware, so try and mix them up a bit. I wouldn't worry too much about the other veg/salads you plan to grow - just mix in some flowers.

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Yes I agree, also remember some plants take a lot more nutrients out of the soil than others, so that can be another reason to move them around. If you operate on no dig principles adding fresh compost every year that reduces the need to rotate too.
    AB Still learning

  • I'd go for a suitable location simply because if the site doesn't suit, you will probably end up being disappointed with your harvest.
    It rather depends on the space you have available to be able to work on a reasonable rotation cycle, size of beds and whether or not you plan to grow the likes of toms/cukes in a GH ( if you have one ? ).
    Perhaps a bit more info on how much you want to grow of each individual veg you mention, whether you have access to manure/home made compost, whether you can afford to leave an area idle for a period etc.
    Hopefully there will be some helpful advice forthcoming  :)
  • Thank so much! 

    I love the look of the mixed veg and flower beds. There's a garden nearby (Chateau de Miromesnil near Dieppe) that does just that and to me it's magical. I'll be including various salvias, marigolds, astrantia and yarrow, which I understand can be helpful companions, and if they can reduce the need for rotation then even better! (other companion ideas gratefully accepted).

    Bed size - it's hard to say exactly as they're all odd shapes. The main areas are:

    3m x 7m with a path down the middle, full sun, clay in patches but I'm adding organic material to improve. The back area already has some 2 yr old shurbs, aliums, etc. but has space at the back for talls, such as toms/cukes (no GH), or beans/peas;

    1m x 9m strip that's a sort of raised bed, made of old roof tiles (seems to be good at stopping slugs). The soil is lighter and has had a fair amount of compost added already. A fair amount of sun but part shade, so probably the salad bed.

    Two other areas are a thinnish strip along part of the drive (keeps getting wider...), full sun, with some herbs and a few other plants and space for climbers to rotate with the bigger bed, and a pair of strips on a slope leading to a mini wetland (clean water drain off from sewage system). This is never dry but gets the wind in autumn and winter, fairly good sun. 

    The other space I'll be using is the drive, which is longish and so far boringly straight. The plan is to put the squash and cucumbers along there. If nothing else it'll look better!

    Yes to the home composting, we are producing a decent amount twice a year, not quite organic but almost.

    I have, erm, quite a lot of seeds! We like variety and love trying new things. So I don't tend to plant huge quantities of anything but bits of lots of things. Quite a lot of various brassicas, from cabbages to kohl rabi to kalettes with more in between, and some walking stick cabbage to try for a bit of fun. Lots of salads too - batavia, cos, radiccio, celtuce (another to try and find out). I start them either in situ or in small polytunnels.

    Not much in the way of fruit - the dog eats the strawberries - but I have got some kiwano seeds to try. They'll probably go in pots.

    Sorry about the long post. I hope it gives you a bit of an idea of what I've got! Thanks for your patience as well as your help.
  • i have heard such useless and uniformed posts in my life. 
    so many words but no useful info.  
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,585
    I try to rotate things so that they are in a different place each year. I like to follow beans with brassicas the following year. However, certain things I grow (onions and sweet corn) need more sunshine than others, and they tend to hog the best (sunniest) positions , and then other things that will tolerate a bit more shade go in the shadier bits. My mum grows runner beans in exactly the same spot each year and has no problems. She does not grow brassicas at all.  Onions and brassicas really need to be rotated to prevent pest build up in the soil.
  • i have heard such useless and uniformed posts in my life. 
    so many words but no useful info.  
    Would you like to explain? It sounds like you might have an alternative viewpoint and useful info to add. It would be interesting to hear, especially as I have found the replies received very helpful (and welcoming for a newish member and less experienced gardener).

    Thanks, fidgetbones. I'm not currently growing onions other than springs.

    Back to those brassicas... Maybe I need to dig another patch? I think I might have found my job for the autumn!
  • I have two 6m beds. I 'try' to rotate but I don't follow a strict rotation and sometimes I will grow the same crop in the same place twice before moving it. My beds are at the side of the house and the last 1m or so can get a bit more shade so I tend to use it more for my allium (I find they don't bolt as much) and roots. For me, its only a small strip I have, not a field. Each spring I dig the beds over and add manure/compost then rake them level etc. I am sure this moves lots of the soil from one place to another hence I am not too strict on rotation but do try to a bit. I know others will disagree.
  • I set up my vegetable garden and had every intention to rotate my plantings, but lacking holding beds for my perennials purchased over summer, every fall I've ended up planting them pot and all in my vegetable beds to overwinter.  It throws me off every spring, but this autumn I drew up a map of the beds and chose where I was planting everything.  I should be able to rotate my vegetables clockwise in a circular pattern each year to get the best out of the soil conditions the previous crop left behind.  Having this map and laying out the plan months ahead of time should help.  Any perennials I stored in vegetable beds this year have been in late spring/early summer crop beds, so I'm not in as much of a hurry to plant in them.  Fingers crossed this works!
    New England, USA
    Metacomet soil with hints of Woodbridge and Pillsbury
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,303
    @NormandyLiz - please don't worry about @war garden 572's comments.  He's very much a traditionalist when it comes to vegetable growing.  There's nothing wrong with what you're planning, and mixing flowers with veg can look stunning.  Do have a look at the link provided by @Pete.8 to the Geoff Hamilton programme if you have time.
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
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