On 29th April NPCG hosted a workshop run by Tan Fowler, themed Crop Rotation and Companion Planting. Tan gave valuable insight into how and why to rotate crops each season and what types of plants are good growing together. We thank Tan for her time and effort to come down to the garden and give a wonderful workshop filled with such useful tips. The bed workshop attendees planted is thriving well. Here is some of what she said.
Crop rotation is a useful tool to have in any garden, it has many benefits that can help your garden prosper! Every plant grows differently and has different interactions with the soil, atmosphere and with other plants and animals. By rotating your crops you can balance nutrients in the soil, reduce pests and overall make it easier for you as a gardener!
Below is Tan’s 7 step guide to rotating crops.
- List all the plants you want to grow.
- Group plants into similar types e.g brassicas, solanums
- Give each group a code letter
- Create a map of your garden beds
- Set each bed a code letter
- For each group decide what plants you want to grow this rotation and plant in corresponding beds
- For the next rotation, move each group one bed, so code letter A moves to B’s space
Companion planting is another wonderful tool to use in your garden, experienced gardeners may already know of several plant combinations. When it comes to companion planting there are four main reason why it’s used.
- Increase flavour! Tomato and basil anyone?
- Reduce pests- French marigolds for nematodes
- Attract beneficial bugs- Flowers for bees
- Structure and shade- corn for beans to climb
- If we want beneficial insects we need the pests that they eat!
- Something that tastes good together most likely grows well together
- Plant something that grows faster between plants that take longer to grow, harvest them whilst the slow growers are still small. Radishes (fast) with carrots (slow)
- One plant is better than a few that will compete for soil nutrients
- Some plants may be used as a sacrifice to pests so that your harvestable crops remain uneaten
One of my favourite notes was Tan’s motto about permaculture: Observe and interact!
This is so true. Gardens are dynamic, every garden is different and every spot in that garden is different, so to find what grows well in that spot…observe and interact!