Thursday, June 25, 2015

An interest in inter-cropping

We’ve been practicing crop rotation since we began here, aiming at a four-year cycle of spuds-brassicas-legumes-onions/roots. Admittedly this was easier in the first few years when we only had a couple of beds and we weren’t very organised, but we’ve stuck to it fairly well recently. We’ve also dabbled in companion planting, using those funky trapezoidal end beds on the main beds. Again, this hasn’t been a perfect example of the art, as most of the time those beds get used for over-flow from elsewhere or just a handy spot to “temporarily” plant something that needs planted, but the thought was there, even if the execution was poor.

Cauliflower "All the Year Round"
interplanted with Corn Salad and
Lettuces "Little Gem" & "Lollo Rosso"

Everyone still happy one month on...
However, new for this year, we’re having a go at inter-cropping. We probably haven’t done this in the past because we’ve never been organised enough. Also, it really only applies to the brassica bed, which we’ve rather struggled with for some reason (probably because most brassicas tend to take ages to mature, tend to need lots of weeding, seem to be rather high maintenance, tend to have lots of pests, probably need lots of feeding and, because we’ve been typically neglectful at various critical times of the season, have generally performed poorly compared to the other crops. That and they’re rather boring. Although not Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Or Kohl Rabi. Or Kale. Or Turnips. Or probably others). Anyway, the great thing about the brassica bed is that we grow all our leafy stuff here like Lettuces and other salad leaves, Spinach, Chard, etc. Some stuff (like Lettuces and other salad leaves) can be gown quite close together in-between the larger things like Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Broccoli. As a result, this year we’ve managed to do some intercropping of the Cauliflowers, Broccoli and Kale with Lettuce and Pak Choi, with this fast-maturing stuff getting harvested whilst the wider spaced, longer-maturing crops stay in situ until they’re ready – none yet, but soon (we hope).

Cauliflower remains (apart from the newly-plated
Calabrese and Brocolli, inteplanted with more Lettuces)

Successionally planted Leeks and Celery
(between Mint and Onions)
Of course, once we start harvesting these main crops were then into successional cropping and, possibly, even successional inter-cropping – who’d have thought? Actually, we have started some successional cropping in the Onion bed, with the GarlicCristo” now lifted and tied up to dry on the Raspberry hedge wires, and some Leeks and Celery plants from spring sowings planted out – getting a bit late for these to make show-bench specimens, but hopefully good enough for a soup or two.

Garlic "Cristo" hanging to dry
(hopefully it won't influence the rasps flavour...)


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