It's been a while since I've done a gardening or allotment post. I blame the weather. Last year was a terrible year for us on the allotment. It began with the worst drought on record a long time followed by months of non-stop flooding. As a result, half of our plot was unusable. The other half was overtaken by weeds and wetness making the whole business rather unmanageable. Many of our neighbours gave up their plots. We decided to persevere for another year. The freezing weather and very late spring meant allotment planning and sowing suffered too. Nevertheless, we finally managed to get on our plot last week for a round of digging, sowing and planting. I've also managed to spend some time planning crop rotation and planting.
Crop rotation is an essential part of planning your vegetable garden. It's all about chemistry. So here are some top tips on how to go about planning your allotment. You can compare our plot last year versus this to make a quick assessment yourself. I must add, it isn't perfect but useful enough.
- Sow brassicas ( cabbage, cauliflowers, broccoli) after legumes (beans and peas). They will benefit from the nitrogen fixed in the soil by the legumes
- Plant legumes after the potato family. The potato family includes tomatoes and peppers.
- Root vegetables are a good follow on act to brassicas. Potatoes also do well after brassicas and that is what we've gone for this year.
Whilst planning your allotment, it is useful to consider companion planting. Some of my favourites are these:
- Tomatoes, basil and french marigolds. The smell of tomatoes and basil together is divine. The marigolds keep nematodes at bay
- Nasturtiums and most things! I plant my nasturtiums in between my legumes, root vegetables and brassicas. They help by attracting hoverflies which deter aphids.
- Onions planted amongst carrots can help with deterring carrot fly.