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Crop Rotation with Polycultures

 
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Hi everyone,

I've just started my first patch in my backyard, and am curious about how I should manage crop rotation.

My patch at the moment is very small, about 1 square metre, and for the summer I've got a snake bean vine, a choko vine, a sunflower and some marigolds growing. My plan is to grow some daikon radishes, lettuce and nasturtiums over the winter.
My questions are as follows:

1. Since I have a number of species from different families in the same small area, does the idea of crop rotation still apply? So next summer I would not be able to have any legumes or cucurubits , and would instead grow stuff like cassava, sweet potatoes etc?


2. If I extended the patch to make it twice as big, could I put this year's vegetable species in the newly established part of the patch, or would pests migrate across?


Ant feedback would be great, I was hoping that polyculture could allow me to get away without rotating too much, as I like growing cucurbits and legumes and don't really want a year without them!






 
gardener
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I think crop rotation tends to be more important when you are dealing with larger monocrops, rather than your smaller example. Also crops that are weak tend to be most vulnerable to pests, so if you feed the soil with good compost and grow a variety of plants that might each complement the next (nitrogen fixing beans near nitrogen hungry plants etc) then your soil shouldn't develop deficiencies over time, which would weaken a plant and make it vulnerable to disease/pests. But even moving plants from one square foot to a different one could help a little too.
 
pollinator
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I have mixed feelings about crop rotation based only on my garden.  I kept rotating the sections of my garden which wasnt that big.  I wish I had just skipped a year of squash. I ended up with the entire garden having squash bugs. If that was the crop I wanted, I would be an amazing gardener!😝

Edit to ask: is there any way you can do a separate bed in a different area of the yard? I wish I had tried that sooner.

By the way, welcome to Permies, Russell!
 
steward & bricolagier
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Tina: I  think ducks eat squash bugs... You grew duck food!
 
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My belief has always been to try to consider how the plants occur in nature. Annual plants would naturally live their full cycle and die. What then? Some of the seeds would fall in the same spot (ie no rotation), some would be dispersed (rotation). But in your case you are talking about perennials, choko, sweet potato etc. So these things are naturally going to grow in the same spot for a long time (no rotation), and therefore have some ability to handle it. If they could not handle it, the species would be extinct. So if it was me I would just go for diversity as you are doing, and don't worry too much about crop rotation.

The hard thing for you will be to maintain these plants small enough for a 1m2 garden. Choko alone can easily cover several acres with time, and my in-laws who were commercial banana farmers for 50 years told horror stories about how much space sweet potatoes could cover in a small time.
 
Russell Cook
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Thanks for the replies.

For now I will keep going with lots of diversity, and tweak exact positions in the bed where possible.

I can't easily set up another bed in a different spot, as other areas are the centre of the lawn or have poor drainage. But I will most likely extend the length of the existing patch the come end of summer. As regards room, I've trellised the vines, and the bed has no physical barrier between it and the lawn, so roots can spread out if they are so inclined.

 
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