A continuation of my series on how to plan out your garden. This time we’ll deal with crop rotation.
Every season I sit down for about 2 hours and determine what is going where. There are several factors involved in planning out a garden. The first is how much of each crop will you need, which we covered last Friday. The next step is crop rotation, which we will cover in this post. Next week’s post will be third step in planning out your garden – companion planting. To avoid diseases and certain pests it’s always best to never plant the same thing in the same place more often than once every 3 years.
Vegetables follow into several families:
Beets – Beet, Spinach, Swiss Chard
Brassicas – Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli Raabe, Arugula, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cress, Horse-radish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Pak Choi, Radish, Rutabaga, Turnip
Carrots – Carrot, Celeriac, Celery, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Parsnip
Cucurbits – Cucumber, Melon, Watermelon, Squash, Pumpkin, Gourd
Grasses – Wheat, Corn, Barley, other grains
Legumes – Beans, Peas, Peanuts
Mallow – Okra
Morning Glory – Sweet Potato
Onion – Asparagus, Chives, Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Scallions, Shallots, Ramps
Solanaceae – Tomatoes, Peppers, Potatoes, Eggplants, Tomatillo
Sunflower – Artichoke, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lettuce, Sunflower
You don’t want to grow plants from the same family in the same area two years in a row because they can suffer from the same pests and diseases across the family. Also, they use similar amounts of nutrients from the soil, depleting it. Height is also a consideration you must take when rotating crops. Taller plants like corn, tomatoes, and pole beans will shade out shorter plants. What you will want to do is run two separate rotations in your garden. One for shorter plants on the south side and one for taller plants in your northernmost beds.
In a recent article from Mother Earth News, a decades long study found that there is a certain crop rotation order that was the most beneficial. Unfortunately, it only dealt with 8 crops, which many of us home gardeners don’t limit ourselves too, and some of the crops we don’t all have room to grow. But it can be modified to fit our gardens.
Rotation 1 – Solanaceae Family
Rotation 2 – Brassica Family