Sunday, October 9, 2011

Planting onions and garlic - full circle.

On 7th October 2010 we planted onion and garlic sets in the first bed to be prepared on the outside vegetable strips. This year, on the 29th and 30th September and 1st October, we completed the circle and our first full growing year on the farm by planting onions and garlic in three outside beds. All being well, there will be five times the amount of onions and garlic to be harvested in 2012 as there were in 2011. This year we have continued with "radar" onion sets because they performed so well over last winter (easily outperforming the spring-planted "sturon" and "red baron" sets for size and yield), but have switched from "flavor" to "vallelado" garlic due to availability of the sets.
Milan, Robert and Anne planting onion sets.

Robert, Milan and Jim planting garlic sets.
These autumn-planted onion and garlic sets are the second and third crops to have made the jump into 2012's crop rotation, by being planted into 2011's brassica (cabbage-family) strip. The first crop was "black winter radishes", sown on Monday 26th into 2012's brassica bed (which was 2011's legume bed). We operate a standard four-year crop rotation:-
year 1 = solanacea (the potato family) which here means a strip full of potatoes;
year 2 = legume (the pea family) so peas and beans, with other crops such as courgette and sweetcorn too;
year 3 = brassica (the cabbage family); and
year 4 = allium (the onion family) with carrots and parsnips also included.
This crop rotation system, and variations of it, is organic farming's main tool for the reduction of crop pests and diseases. Each crop family is moved on year after year, so that their specific problems do not build up in the soil, which would happen if the same crops are grown in the same soil continuously.

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