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Rotation of crops aids in keeping up soil fertility, and a properly controlled vegetable garden should never become plant sick. Different types of plants require differently balanced food rations, so that if crops are planted in rotation the food balance in the soil is not upset. Most soils contain all the necessary food elements to a sufficient degree to produce fair crops. If these elements are controlled wisely by cultivation, and by adding to the soil a sufficient amount of manure between each crop, it should be possible to keep up the original standard of soil fertility, or even to improve it in cases where the soil was originally poor.
To aid crop rotation the area Is divided into four main plots, and each type of vegetable is planted in turn in each. There are four main groups:
1. CABBAGE GROUP, including Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Turnips, Lettuce and salad vegetables. These are hungry, fast growing crops which need to be planted in well manured soil in order to produce quick growth. All these vegetables can be grown in what are called rank soils, with the exception of Turnips. Turnips are only included in this group because they belong to the Cabbage family, and are attacked by the same pests and diseases. Though classed in the same rotation as Cabbages, they should be grown in mature rather than rank soil.
2. ROOT VEGETABLES, including Red Beet, Carrots, Parsnips, Onions and Potatoes. These plants want a mature soil, where the roots can develop slowly
but steadily. Grown on rank manure, the root is inclined to fork, instead of producing a typical straight one. They are therefore suited to growing on after green vegetables.
3. POD-BEARING VEGETABLES including Peas and Beans. This is an especially useful group from a soil point of view, for these plants improve its nitrogen content.
4. VINE VEGETABLES including Cucumbers, Marrows, Pumpkins, and Tomatoes. The Tomatoes may be grown on a north fence, or trained to stakes in a bed separate from the rest.
In rotating crops any or all of the vegetables mentioned in the four groups are planted in a four-year rotation, in the following manner:
Group 1 - First year, plot 1; second year, plot 2; third year, plot 3; and fourth year, plot 4.Feed salad vegetables regularly to increase production. Group 2 - First year, plot 2; second year, plot 3; third year, plot 4; and fourth year, plot 1. Group 3 - First year, plot 3; second year, plot 4; third year, plot 1; fourth year, plot 2. Group 4 - First year, plot 4; second year, plot 1; third year, plot 2; fourth year, plot 3.
It is easy to see that by following this rotation any one crop is grown in one section only once in four seasons.
LAYING OUT OF BEDS The plots are divided by paths made wide enough to use a wheel-barrow with ease, but the divisions between the separate beds in each plot need be little more than a furrow It is not necessary for the beds to be of the same width; they may vary from three to five feet according to the type and quantity of vegetable to be grown in them, and they should be raised to six inches above path level. The main path, which leads into and through the vegetable garden from the pleasure garden, should be made as attractive as possible. It is quite a good idea to grow a row of annuals for cut flowers for the house each side of the path, and so make it a link between the vegetable area and the pleasure garden. Where there is space these could be backed by espalier fruit trees grown on post and rail fences, but in small gardens such a procedure cuts out too much sunlight. Small salad crops, such as Lettuce and Radish could be used for edging the path, or herbs would make an attractive border.