Vegetable crop rotation is a must-do for three reasons: soil nutrition, pest control and disease control. Below we’ll explain how garden crop rotation impacts each of these areas along with important points to consider when planning your rotation schedule…
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)
Endive, Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, salsify
Convolvulaceae (Bindweed Family)
Malvaceae (Mallow Family)
Vegetable gardening crop rotation is the practice of moving one group of vegetables – also called a “vegetable family” – from one spot to another around your garden or yard from year to year. The more time that goes by before that family returns to its initial spot, the less likely you’ll be to deplete your soil and the more likely you’ll be to ward off pests and disease…
Different plants require and extract different nutrients from the soil. If you leave one type of plant in the same garden spot year after year, it will deplete that spot of that plant’s required nutrients.
The longer you continue to plant the same vegetable, the more that spot will continue to yield fewer and lower-quality vegetables. At a minimum, don’t plant the same veggie for at least two years. Ideally, give it three or four.
To understand how pests “feel” about crop rotation, consider how you’d react if your favorite local restaurant moved across the country. Chances are, you’d never eat there again. Now pretend that restaurant was your only source of food and you’ll understand how garden pests feel about garden crop rotation.
Moving a pest’s favorite food across the garden or to another bed makes it difficult for them find... ideally difficult enough that they’ll perish before they find it. Since many of them can only thrive on one type or group of vegetables, continuing to move their favorite restaurant out of reach will prevent them from becoming an uncontrollable problem.
In addition, the farther pests have to venture out to locate their meal, the more likely they are to become the meal of a predator.
Diseases have similar issues with vegetable crop rotation… the longer you keep their plant groups away, the more likely they are to die out by the time their plant comes back.
Generally speaking, the smaller your garden the easier the planning will be. However, if your garden is too small, you won’t have enough space or variety for an effective rotation.
Considering the countless combinations of garden vegetables out there, it’s virtually impossible to outline a specific rotation plan for every combination (hopefully you’ll be willing to help us out here and will share the rotation that works best for your veggies further down the page). But we can give you some points to make the job easier.
First and most obviously, never follow one vegetable family with another. The time between planting the same vegetable in the same space should be spread out as far as possible… at least two years, preferably three or four.
It would be nice if that’s all it took. Unfortunately, things get more complicated if you want to take your garden to the next level…
To get around these issues, consider the following:
Have you found an effective rotation? Please share!
Be sure to include the following along with any other tips or advice you feel is relevant:
- Which vegetables you grow and what groups you place them in
- Which companions you put together (if any)
- How many rotations you have (i.e. one for tall plants, one for short plants and one for succession plants)
- The order of your rotation
...and don't forget to include a photo or four of your pride and joy!
Was this page helpful? If so, please tell your friends about it with a Facebook like or via Twitter, Pinterest, email or good old fashioned word of mouth. Thank you for supporting our efforts!
Source for list of vegetable families: Iowa State University Extension: Horticulture & Home Pest News