Dividing the garden into several pieces
Usually, when planning the crop rotation, we divide the field into several smaller pieces – depending on how many years of rotation we want to introduce. Then we determine the order of sown plants on these fields. In such a plan it is also worthwhile to include a place for growing perennial crops. e.g. strawberries, strawberries, flowers.
It is also worthwhile to initially, at least from time to time, provide for the cultivation of grains which will play an important sanitary role in the crop rotation. It is also advisable to provide for the cultivation of butterfly plants, which enrich the soil with nitrogen. Then we start to determine the exact sequence of plants after each other.
Draw a Detailed Plan
A good crop rotation cannot be achieved without a proper plan, and it is quite detailed. The plan should be written down immediately for a few years, in principle, the longer the period of time the plants from a given family follow each other, the more ecological and better for the health, but often also the taste and nutritional value of the plants. This crop rotation also best protects biodiversity. If necessary, such a plan can be adjusted, e.g. when a crop falls out due to climatic anomalies, lack of time to grow, or the acquisition of new attractive plants. Without a detailed plan we quickly get lost and make mistakes.
First, the whole garden should be initially divided into several parts, at least four. These should be fairly even, which will facilitate further division and planning. In this arrangement, an example of a general crop rotation could look like this: on the first part fertilised with compost or well distributed cattle manure, we will grow leafy plants such as cabbage, pumpkin and other plants, e.g., the first part will be fertilised with compost or well distributed cattle manure. potatoes, corn, requiring a lot of fertilization, on the second part roots from celery and garlic family, on the third part of the asterisk (velvet, sunflower), light (e.g. marjoram, savory) and evergreen (cereals, apart from corn), but also celery (e.g. dill), on the fourth part butterfly plants. In the meantime, it is also possible to sow catch crops and additionally fertilize them with compost, e.g. for sunflower, marjoram or dill. You can also divide your garden into five parts, if you still want to introduce some perennial crops, e.g. strawberries, strawberries. In addition, you can also divide the sixth section into multi-annual crops. Asparagus, horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke.
The four main parts described above can still be divided into even smaller parts already adapted to the cultivation of individual plant species from a given group, e.g. cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes. Then it is worthwhile to write the names of the plants into these separate fields (they may already be of different size and shape). It is good to make a drawing on paper in a grid, which would reflect the whole garden surface in a certain scale. When planning, it is also possible to make sketches for subsequent years immediately. Then you will avoid any problems with the consequences of the plants, which may arise later on. It is also worthwhile to take into account the sowing of catch crops, pre-crops. It is also necessary to write down which botanical families they belong to, in order to maintain the correct sequence of plants from the same families.
Plants Insertions in the main Crop Rotation
When arranging the crop rotation, which is as varied as possible, making the best use of the garden area, we should also envisage, in addition to cultivating the main crops, cultivating with them on the same field of plants with a shorter vegetation period. Such plants are generally referred to as “inserts”. Usually the main crops do not grow in the field during the entire growing season from early spring to late autumn. Therefore, during this time when the main plants have not yet been planted or after harvest, but sometimes in parallel during the growing season, other plants can be grown in the same field. These come in addition to the basic crop rotation. In this way, a second and sometimes even a third crop is obtained from the same field within one year. In practice, in crop rotations for vegetables, inserts can be vegetable plants from other botanical groups or families with a short vegetation period. They can also be other crops for green manure, for green fodder for domestic animals such as rabbits, hens.
Forecrops in Crop Rotation Planning
Inserts in the shift between or in front of main crops, we call forecrops. We plant them from seedlings prepared earlier in the inspectorate or greenhouse, very early in spring, before the main crops, e.g. late cabbage tomatoes, cucumbers, beans etc. Among vegetables to pre-crop plants we include those with short vegetation and well tolerate low temperatures. The most popular are lettuce, radish, spinach and kohlrabi.
The forecrop may also include winter rye, mustard seed, legumes, pellets, peas, vetches, beans, etc. sown in green fertilizer. They can be planned in a field where there will be late cabbages, cucumbers, courgettes, tomatoes and e.g. carrots or asparagus beans for late harvest.
After-crops in Crop Rotation Planning
After harvesting the main vegetable plants, most often intended for earlier harvesting, e.g. early carrots, spring onions, kohlrabi from seedlings, radishes, spinach, green dill, you can cultivate after-crops. These may also include vegetables that are still in time for the same year’s harvest, e.g. turnip greens, asparagus beans for late harvest, autumn radishes, autumn lettuces, post-harvest cauliflower from seedlings. Other plants with a fairly short vegetation period can also be yielded, grown for green manure, e.g. buckwheat, sunflower, phacelia, mustard, butterfly plants, e.g. vetch, as well as cereals, e.g. rye.
Intercrops in Crop Rotation Planning
When we grow plants between two main crops, such as winter spinach and autumn radish or radish and autumn lettuce, we call them intercrops. These can be vegetable plants, e.g. spring onion, spinach, parsley, dill green. You can also sow agricultural plants for green manure (e.g. spring rye, vetch, mustard). Intercrops can also be planted when the crops are small, e.g. cabbage, in the free space between the small plants you can then sow or plant fast-growing plants such as lettuce.
Mid-crop or Co-crops
The main crop inserts for a fuller use of the arable land in a plant field are called mid-crop or co-crops. These crops also usually have many additional functions, such as protection, soil enhancement, etc.
A practical example
The possibilities and advantages of growing forecrops, aftercrops and intercrops, the so-called inserts, are explained by the famous Polish horticulturist Edward Nehring: Using this type of cultivation allows very intensive use of the garden, which increases the yield of the area. I will explain this with a few examples. If we plant early white cabbage on the bed in March or April, it will leave the field in July at the latest. After digging up the bed, we can give some poplings, e.g. spinach, from which we can still harvest a bit before winter, and the full crop will be the next early spring, we can give some lettuce and even beans or card peas after that cabbage. If we plant the cabbage late in June, we can have early peas, spinach, lettuce, radishes, etc. on the bed before it. In these cases, the main crop is cabbage. In both cases, when the cabbage is still small, we can introduce a catch crop, i.e., sow or plant: fast-growing vegetables, such as lettuce, kohlrabi, etc., in places between the rows.