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In and out of Beds

Richard Bell’s Wild West nature diary, Wednesday,  27th  May 2009

vegetable garden
crop rotation

IT’S NOT clear in this view from my studio window, but we’ve divided our vegetable patch into three L-shaped beds (left). The crops in bed 2 this year will be grown in bed 1 next year, those in bed 3 in bed 2 and so on:

  1. Roots: carrots, parsnips and beetroot. Ideally you’d add manure to this plot the previous autumn.
  2. Beans: broad beans and peas can thrive even though the root crops were hungry feeders in this bed last year. Colonies of bacteria in nodules on the roots of beans and peas can extract nitrogen from the atmosphere.
  3. Cabbages: these benefit from the nitrogen left in the soil by the beans.  A sprinkling of calcified seaweed on this bed brings the pH down to the level preferred by cabbages.


This master plan doesn’t quite work as their are winter onions and garlic still not ready for harvesting in bed 2 so the runner beans have had to go at the end of bed 3 which has also been planted with sweet-corn and courgettes, leaving little space for cabbages.


This year the extra bed, attached to bed 3 is given over to potatoes and row of autumn-fruiting raspberries.

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