Budge up, brassicas

This week, we have mostly been eating cabbage.

Now, this isn’t some new faddy diet or detox plan, but merely a practical solution to the conundrum that is crop rotation.

In an attempt to be ahead of the game this year, I dug out my four- year plan to see what needed to be planted where. Vegetables should be planted in groups of their own kind, in a different bed each year. The theory behind this is that some plants will leave good stuff behind in the soil, which the next crop needs, and some plants will suck some of the nutrients out of the soil, which the next crop can happily do without. And by rotating crops around, you can help prevent some plant diseases. I’m sure it gets much more scientific than that, but that’s all the detail I need to know – I just keep the map safe.

Apparently this is the law of the land:
Year one: brassicas ie cabbages,  brussels, kale and chard
Year two: roots and onions
Year three:  potatoes
Year four: legumes (peas and beans to you and I) – then back to brassicas in Year five.

I have a very slight spanner to throw into the works. At the first sign of spring, I’m meant to be planting onions into the bed where the brassicas were last year. How am I supposed to do that when the bed is still chock a block with leafy offerings?

Well, I say that… true, there are plenty of plants in there, but I have to admit none of them will win any prizes in the looks department.

The cabbages failed to heart up, the brussels didn’t form little nutty balls, and the red cabbage leaves are about the size of a small child’s hand. But they all need to be gone as soon as the weather warms up, to make way for the onions.

As I’d spent a good part of the summer picking caterpillars off them, I was loathe to throw them away just for not being pretty. I decided that there was no option. We were going to have to unite as a family, ‘man up’ to the challenge, and eat the lot. It’s taken a bit of creative licence to get it all from garden to table, but by Jove, I think we’ve nearly cracked it.

Every meal has come with a side order of cabbage or kale (sometimes both). Shredded cabbage goes well in a stir fry, baggy brussels are actually not all that bad sliced and steamed, and I’ve even been making sprout and potato soup.

The local wind conditions have been changeable, to say the least.

(Featured in The Hinckley Times: 16 February 2012)








7 thoughts on “Budge up, brassicas

  1. Arh crop rotation – that is something I am meant to do. Trouble is the amount of legumes I grow is much smaller than the amount of brasicas so how does that work? I am working on the basis of not growing the same thing in the same bed twice in 4 years but I have only had the plot for a year so so far the plan is working great!!!!

  2. Your 4 year rotation is same as mine, although I am lucky enough to have the space to plant other stuff in. I sometimes plant onions in amongst my strawberries which keeps some bugs off the strawberries. Froze lots of cabbage this year?
    I use the following to remember the rotation (P) otatoes (L) ike (B) eing (R) oasted)

  3. Pingback: It’s all kicking off down there | chooksandroots

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