Yet another crop rotation conundrum

To be honest you really can’t tell you are going to run into problems until you run into problems.   But having said that, I should have foreseen this one as I grow brassicas all year round so, they are going to get maximum use of their space until the very last minute.

Mini red cabbage
If you look past the weeds the question is regarding my mini red cabbages and savoy cabbages – should they stay or should they go?

Now that would be ok, if I had a slow starter following them.  In the old garden the brassicas went into the salad bed, which, while I can grow both over winter, they tend to end up bolting and going to seed at the same time.  Easy.  Out with the old and in with the new.

Here they are in a completely different crop rotation cycle.  They are in with the onions, tomatoes, peas and squash.  These four were together in the old garden in what was a foursome of long skinny beds.   Nothing has changed as far as bed size goes and they all worked well there.

Brassica bed
To be honest the brassica bed is a bit of a mess and there isn’t much in there that needs to be saved, but much is still some, but the peas need the space….

The squash are in this group because they are easy to contain in a long skinny bed, especially with the help of some landscape stables to direct their growth.    The onions, tomatoes and peas are in this group because they work well together.  The peas come before the tomatoes in the off chance they have left their nitrogen rich goodness in the soil for the tomatoes to take advantage of.  The onions follow up after the tomatoes just in case they leave soil cleaning properties in the soil to clean up any diseases the tomatoes may leave in their wake.  The tomatoes are there in the middle of all of this because they are tomatoes and are the stars of the summer garden and should be treated as such.

pea seedlings
I need to make up my mind sooner rather than later as these pea seedlings will need to be planted very soon.

It also helps to plant peas and tomatoes in two long rows for ease of harvest, care and maintenance.  The onions have the bonus that they are in the longest bed so there is room for even more, so they can almost last us all year for cooking in the kitchen.

So that takes me back to this new interloper, a potential new friend on the edge of a tight group, with the squash being that goofy friend that somehow fits in, but no one really knows how or why.  The brassica are in danger of annoying my onion, tomato, pea bond, because of the over wintering peas – that was a complete disaster and I’ve decided to stick with dwarf ones from now on as they just get buffered about too much in winter winds.

The onions are minding their own business and doing really well. It is hard to believe in just a few months I will be harvesting them as big fat bulbs!

The new spring peas are nearly ready to go into their new bed – where they always go, but alas, someone is still sitting there.   Ok most of the brassica are ready to move on, but there are still a few cabbage crops in there that still have a way to go.  So, do I leave them and make my peas wait? Or do I sacrifice my cabbages.  Or do I break up the beneficial threesome and put the peas somewhere else.  There are two empty beds – well kind of empty.  The old squash bed is sitting there waiting for the brassicas without a weed in sight.  And the new squash bed, which was the old onion bed that had a second life as a popcorn bed, is currently knee high with a lupin cover crop that will need digging in soon anyway.

lupin cover crop and empty bed
The empty bed is pretty much good to go, but if I put the brassicas in here I will end up with the same problem next spring, so I’ll need to dig in the cover crop and pop them there.

I think I may just move the brassicas in the crop rotation cycle, so they are in between the squash and the onions.  It will mean digging in the cover crop sooner rather than later, but I haven’t sown any brassica seeds yet so there is time.  That puts the squash between the peas and the brassicas and they finish in the autumn and don’t need to be planted out again until the mid – late spring, so if the brassica need to linger that is no problem and it doesn’t get in the way of starting the peas early in the spring.

Weedy strawberry bed
In other news, the strawberry bed was causing me angst while I was sick. Strawberries should be planted or taken care of in August. I was quickly running out of August and the strawberry patch was a mess!

The only drawbacks are the squash will go in the same bed again this season, but they are generally problem free – well not as bad as more fickle crops, and I’ll give the soil some extra love, so they have what they need.

Sorted strawberry patch
But after a couple of days of hard slog I took care of the beds, removing all the runners – by the hundreds and pared it back to the original 1 and 2 year old plants, that now become the 2 and 3 year old plants. The old 3 year old plants have been chucked onto the compost heap and replaced with runners. While I needed runners I didn’t need as many as I got so next season I’ll be taking to them with a pair of scissors before they become a plant and save myself a headache next spring!

The other problem I may have to sacrifice the remaining cabbages and do some serious harvesting to clear the bed.  Apparently, you can freeze kale – I looked it up!

Spring is just around the corner and the spring prep is coming along nicely now that I’m not sick anymore.  I’m not as far forward as I’d like to be, but the workload isn’t insurmountable.

Come again soon – bring on spring I say!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

10 thoughts on “Yet another crop rotation conundrum

    1. Hi Lynne. That could work, but I’m not sure where to put them as all the beds are earmarked for something else. Having said that I’m not sure how well they would transplant – given their age and brassica can be fickle things. Thanks for the suggestion. Cheers Sarah : o)

  1. That is too much of a soap opera for me to follow.
    I would be inclined to try why Lynne suggests, even if they get banished to somewhere else outside of the beds. I really hate to remove plants that are still productive at the end of a season, but this is even more difficult, since it should not be the end for them just yet.

    1. I had a closer look at them today and they are almost there – so they might just end up in the kitchen as an ultimate solution! Hopefully I will have removed all my traffic jams now and next season every thing will transition well. : o)

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