Posted By Jonathan on January 15, 2015
As we sat down this past weekend to begin planning out our garden, it occurred to us that the way we had been growing was super inefficient. We had paths everywhere and medium sized beds mixed with small 2 foot by 2 foot beds and so forth. Plus we hadn’t really documented where we had planted everything each year. I can remember last year pretty well, but I’d have to think about 2 years ago! One of the cornerstones of organic gardening is crop rotation and our beds did not fit that at all. Its best to not grow any crop (or part of that crops family) in the same bed more than once every 4 years so you can avoid pest and disease problems. So we decided to completely redo our garden layout.
Inspired by Monty Don and his 4 raised vegetable beds at his home in Hereford, United Kingdom, we decided to put in 5 large garden beds that cover the entire swath of our garden. Monty rotates 4 groups around his 4 beds and so no group is grown in a bed more than once in 4 years. We are doing the same with our 5 beds and have divided our crops into 5 groups. This will also have the benefit of maximizing growing space also while minimizing paths.
Group 1 – Nightshade Family
Group 2 – Brassica Family
Group 3 – Carrot Family
Group 4 – Cucurbits
Group 5 – Everything else
We are also planning to do the same for our second garden bed which is on the south side of our veggie area and so can get two different rotation schemes going. So not technically one bed would not come back to the same space for 10 years! That is super crop rotation.
On top of being great for rotation, this will make planning a lot easier as well. We simply just move everything over a bed! We will clearly change things up within each bed, but we know approximately how each bed will be and drawing it up in the sketch pads we bought will give us a track record of what we have done through the years. We highly recommended you purchase a large sketch pad dedicated to your gardens. They can be found at any office supply store.