Brian Kidd: How to grow successful veg using rotation

It's good to know there is a great return to growing vegetables and two letters inspired my thoughts this week.

Saturday, 30th April 2016, 6:00 am

One was from Jean, who lives on Portsdown Hill, who isn’t successful with swedes, beetroot or the cabbage family.

The other was from Chris, from Fareham, who would like some ideas for making vegetables look attractive in his flower garden.

Jean has three beds for vegetables with paths between. She has two compost bins on the go plus a leaf mould bin. How should the compost best be used?

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In bed one dig in as much compost as you can and plant beans, peas, potatoes, marrows, shallots and onions. They all love compost. You won’t be able to grow all of these, so choose those you enjoy the most.Use the well-rotted leaf mould where the potatoes are to be grown.

Ten days before planting any of these crops, fork in 4oz of fish, blood and bone to each square yard of ground. In a large garden buy 25kg bags.

In the centre bed, plant all types of cabbages but use no compost. Use fish, blood and bone fertiliser when planting out the plants.

In the third bed grow all types of rootcrops such as beetroot, swede, turnip and radish. Swedes are difficult to grow in gardens, but start sowing the seeds in insert cells during mid-May, using just one seed to each cell. Ten days before they are planted out, fork in fish, blood and bone using 3oz to each yard run. Beetroot fail because there was no fertiliser in the ground.

Next year, use compost in bed two so the same type of plant is not grown in the same bed all the time. This is called crop rotation.

During the growing season excellent results can be achieved if the vegetables are watered with an organic liquid feed. My grandpa used manure in a hessian bag suspended in a drum of water. The bag was lifted up and down a dozen times and he would use a big mug of the manure water in a two-gallon can of rainwater and use this on all his veg. The manure was replaced with fresh after a fortnight.These days it’s easier to use Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser and it works.

Making vegetables look good in flower gardens is simple. Try these ideas.

Edge a flower with Salad Bowl lettuce and beetroot and an edging of carrots around another bed.

Curly kale looks great when grown in a shrub border, or as a ‘dot plant’ in a flower bed. Sweetcorn is also successful in borders and can be seen in some public park flower beds. Hardly anyone notices because sweetcorn is a good-looking plant grown on its own. It loses its attractive state when grown in blocks in fields.

Rhubarb looks great in any border and there is another great advantage.

You will find all the snails underneath the rhubarb. It’s easy to find them there!

And you know what to do next...


Look out for hawthorn flowers, often called bread and cheese or May blossom. They are common and often grown as countryside hedges. Once it finishes flowering where you live there won’t be another spring frost this year. One of the last places to see the end of the May blossom is in low-lying areas – frost pockets.