"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Crop rotation

I  spent the end of this last disastrous summer season planning my vegetable garden for next year - I do not want a repeat of the mouse invasion, nor white fly, which attacked my tomatoes, and left me with very little to harvest.

By planning, I mean that I spent quite a bit of time reading up on crop rotation - and crop rotation geared towards what I grow.  I don't grow every vegetable, but focus only on growing what we eat.  Growing other vegetables for vegetables sake would be a waste of water - even with the porous pipe irrigation system we have in place - and, I'd have the additional problem of trying to get them into RMan's mouth LOL

For instance, knowing now what yield I got growing mealies (sweetcorn) last year I definitely won't be pouring precious summer water onto another crop - not even with the rain water which we are going to collect in our 6 X 5000 lt water tanks this winter.  Pink popcorn - that was worthwhile, so that has a place in one of my veggie beds next spring :)

I use John Seymour's "Complete Book of Sufficiency" quite religiously, and my interpretation of his recommendation on crop rotation goes like this:
My crop rotation spreadsheet. I omitted
onions and garlic, but am treating them
as roots.
So, the bed that held the corn crop last season, will, next spring, hold my tomatoes, sweet peppers and swiss chard in the front.  But what is it holding now...?

I  asked RMan if he could make me the following structure with the Black Wattle poles left over from the "screen" we erected between our neighbour and ourselves.
RMan made me this structure in the old corn bed
which is 4mtrs X 7 mtrs in size
The corners of the structure are buried deep within the soil and it is cross braced on all four sides, so it should be able to withstand the hectic winds.
Excess Black Wattle poles were put to good use
The soil from the tyres which held the potatoes have been added to the soil in this bed and the bed was planted with broad beans and peas.
The broad beans were planted along the porous
pipe and the cross poles positioned above them
 I asked RMan to place the cross beams there specifically.
The rows of beans should make them easy to harvest
(pic from 6th May 2013 - you can see the broad
beans are just below the bottom cross pole)
As the broad beans grow, I will support them by means of the garden twine which I've strung around the end poles and down the length of each "passage".
Supporting the broad beans with garden twine -
I'm anticipating a bumper harvest :)
(pic from today - the broad beans are currently
overtaking the 2nd support - roughly
my waist height)
The peas - they were planted on the outer edges, and for their support, I inserted more garden twine between the cross poles.
Even the pea plants got their required support
Next Spring / Summer I will interplant the tomatoes, chard and peppers where the beans / peas are now and the existing structure will allow me to support the tomatoes perfectly.  (I will almost be able to palisade the tomato plants LOL)

As for my shadecloth veggie patch, that is currently planted up with carrots, garlic and onions - it's going to have a long break before it houses tomatoes again :)


  1. Doesn't that look lovely and tidy! Great idea :)

    1. Quinn - My OCD - neat and tidy LOL I'm hoping it works... :)

  2. Dani - it all looks great! and sooo green! we are finally seeing some green here -it has been a long, cool and wet spring. come on summer!

    your friend,

    1. kymber - We live in a winter rainfall area, so our winters are always green, wet and cold. Come on winter - we've now got the stove to keep warm LOL

  3. Crop rotation AND only planting what the family will eat are very important gardening lessons. I just plant the basics now because who knew my family would not eat beets (although I love the tops and a few beats .. not two dozen. Your green bean trellis support looks nice and sturdy!

    1. Mrs Mac - Yeah - I grow a few beets - we're not mad about them, but they are nice every so often...

  4. Looks great! It looks like you're making an efficient use of your space and I totally agree with you that there is no point in growing vegetables just for the sake of growing them. I used to have a very strong bias against growing anything that couldn't be preserved (such as lettuce and watermelons). I still have that bias, but I'm not as adamant about it. I do still favor crops that can be kept to provide food year round. As for rotation I've grappled with that for years. I started with a 3-year rotation (legumes, everything else, rest year) then adopted Eliot Coleman's 8 year rotation method and now we're using a (perhaps ridiculous) 18 garden rotation method. But we're blessed to have plenty of room here and I need to heavily cover crop to grow organically.

    Looking forward to reading more as your gardens produce!

    1. Bill - Our greatest problem here is that the ground is incredibly hard in summer when it's dry, and a horrible sticky clay mess in winter when it's wet. So, although we have plenty of land (2Ha), it's not possible to cultivate it all by hand. Thus my dedicated veggie beds. The rest of the land will be devoted to fruiting trees.

      An 18 bed crop rotation must be heaven :)

  5. Handy fella! What a geat structure to have. We gave up trying to grow corn as well. It was yummy but far to much water to justify growing it!

    1. Linda - LOL - sometimes :) Yeah, it has to be substantial - it has to last for at least 2 years with the wind we have here...

  6. looks great dani - that is an impressive garden structure!!

    the beans are going great guns - looks like a bumper and a half - good on you!!

    1. jambaloney - Thanks Jam :) Hopefully I will be able to find the beans in the growth that is happening... :)

  7. Love the beautiful photos of your garden! And yes, I love John Seymour's book, too! It's my go-to for pretty much everything ;-)

    1. Bee Girl - Thanks :) Would've loved to have met John Seymour...


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.