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Diggers Rest -Crop rotation, Eco gardening tips, Recipe: Spinach salad
July 13, 2006
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July 14, 2006 Issue #17


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In this issue:

1) Crop rotation
2) Eco gardening tips
3) Recipe: Spinach salad

Crop Rotation

In all the information this site provides on vegetable gardening, the emphasis is always on planning.

It is the key to getting the best results for the least effort. One of the keys to successful gardening is crop rotation. Different plants take different things out of the soil.

To prevent your garden from becoming exhausted from season to season, crops are rotated. They put things in, they take things out, they interrupt the life cycle of pests so they cannot become established. Of course, this applies only the to annual plantings, not the perennial plants, such as asparagus.

Separate the garden into sections. Anything from 4-8 areas can be entertained. They can be part of one bed, or they can be a group of beds. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that you rotate the crops around the beds systematically. Counterclockwise is generally the rule of thumb for crop rotation.

The suggestions here will be put in very broad terms. It is impossible to predict every combination of vegetables that you will want to grow, but the prinicples are fairly straight forward.

  • Plant like with like. Divide your plants into families, as they generally get along together and they need broadly similar conditions. Root crops, acidic plants, legumes, leafy, cucubits, brassicas
  • Treat the area for exactly what it is expected to grow. Root crops like an alkaline soil, so add a bit of lime and hold back on the manure. Tomatoes and eggplant like acidic soil, so plenty of feeding and manure is good. Legume crops love nitrogen so feed them often. They will leave the soil loaded with nitrogen which sets the bed up perfectly for the following brassicas and leafy greens. This helps to simplify the ongoing care and feeding of the plants as well.
  • Keep a written record of what you plan and make notes on what actually happens. This will provide a running diary of small corrections that will arrive, eventually, at perfection (you wish!)
  • Salad greens can pretty much go anywhere there is room for them. Just don't make it the same spot repeatedly!
  • So a typical sample rotation might look like this:

    Bed 1: Root Crops, onions
    Bed 2: Legumes (peas, beans), brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts)
    Bed 3: Tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum (peppers)
    Bed 4: Sweet corn, curcubits (cucumber, melons, pumpkin)

    A 6 bed rotation might look like this:

    Bed 1: Legumes
    Bed 2: Brassicas
    Bed 3: Root crops, carrots, parsnips, potatoes
    Bed 4: Corn, curcubits
    Bed 5: Tomatoes, capsicums, eggplant
    Bed 6: Green manure crop

    Crop rotation is another consideration to put into your planning stage. Rotation is important if you are going to control pests and disease in the garden naturally as it doesn't allow them to get a foothold.

    Don't be too rigid in your classifications if you don't have enough room to make clear demarcations. Just make sure you keep it moving season after season.

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    Eco Gardening Tips

  • When harvesting beetroot, leave some of the stem intact. This will prolong its freshness while being stored and stop it 'bleeding' into the water while being cooked.
  • Put a few sprigs of mint in the water of a birdbath to prevent algae forming.
  • Plant parsley near tomato and asparagus plants as aphids hate it!

  • Feature Recipe: Spinach Salad

    Lots of ingredients being prepared separately, then brought together at the end in a brilliant burst of flavour!

    750g small, new potatoes, cut in half
    125ml olive oil
    6 eggs
    4 bacon rashers, chopped
    200g baby spinach leaves
    2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

    Combine potatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake in a very hot oven for 25 minutes on a tray. Meanwhile bring the eggs to a boil in a pot of water, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, then run under cold water, peel and quarter. Cook bacon until crisp and drain on absorbant paper. Blend the remaining oil, vinegar and cheese together. Bring it all together in a large bowl, potatoes, eggs, spinach, bacon and dressing and serve immediately.

    Happy gardening!

    Judy Williams

    Copyright J.L. Williams 2006

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