Plants – young vegetable plants at planting out stage can be purchased from mail order suppliers who will deliver in the correct week for planting.
Roots, slips and sets – Asparagus ( Asparagus officinalis ) is supplied as a root, Sweet potatoes ( Ipomoea batatas ) as slips (shoots with part of the root tuber – a bit like propagating Dahlia) and onions ( Allium sativum ) as sets (juvenile bulbs).
Direct sowing – into the ground where they will mature. Used for root vegetables which resent disturbance (carrots, parsnips, onions and leeks from seed) and for salads. Can be used for legumes – but watch out for mice!
Seed bed – a separate seed bed used to germinate and bring the plants on. Then transplanted – used for Brassicas.
Individual pots, modules or root trainers. Less work but needs more space.
Compost blocks – use of a blocking tool and compost mix to make compressed squares of compost. Advantages – no pots to wash, no transplant shock. Disadvantages – mixes use peat, equipment is quite expensive (but no pots to buy), not suitable for all vegetables.
Vegetables divided into five groups – permanent planting (perennials like Asparagus); Brassicas; Legumes; Alliums; root crops.
Salad crops and some others like Sweet Corn do not fall into a rotation group
The principle is not to grow the same group on the same soil two years running.
Crop Rotation – benefits and limitations Inflexible – intercropping, catch cropping or mixed cropping do not fit well Planning the rotation also enables planning succession Personal taste is vital on a small scale – the grower might like brassicas but not carrots. One crop can benefit the next in the rotation – nitrogen fixing legumes; potatoes suppress weeds Most pests and diseases are mobile or have long persistence Minimises plant problems – pests, diseases and deficiencies Limitations Benefits
Sowing different varieties – early, mid-season and late
Sowing a few seeds at regular intervals so that the plants do not all reach maturity at the same time. For example, hearting lettuce (such as Cos) take 8 -14 weeks to reach maturity. Sowing half a row each week-10 days from late March until late July gives continuity of harvest May to October.
Intercropping and other intensive cropping approaches
Intercropping – growing rows or plants of a quickly maturing vegetable between those of a slow growing one.
Catch cropping – growing a quickly maturing crop on soil left vacant by a harvested crop or set aside to be planted later.
Mixed cropping – growing several vegetables together that benefit each other and are harvested at the same time (e.g. ’the Three Sisters’: sweet corn, beans and squash).