Crop Rotation

The most basic form of crop rotation is also the simplest: never plant the same thing in the same place twice. Thus, if you planted carrots or some other root crop in a spot last year, plant something else there that yields above ground this year. My grandfather’s two-year, two-plot plan was a bit more detailed than that: peas, greens, cucumbers, and squash in one plot, with the cabbage family, corn, beans, and onion plants in the other. Peas, radishes, looseleaf lettuce, and spinach were the early plantings in one plot, while early cabbage and onion plants were in the other.

Figuring out rotations, and finding an elegant solution to the puzzle of planning, can be fascinating work, and for those who care to can check out software to help (I wouldn’t, even if there were not so many typos). Myself, I like to learn in the garden, hands on, and believe that observation, research (now online) and keeping good records is the best way to learn.

A good plan, one that satisfies all three of the aims of rotation—balancing nutrient demands, foiling insect and disease attacks, and deterring weeds—while making the most of the garden’s sun and soil, becomes a sort of seasonal dance in which the crops move from spot to spot, and it helps create a garden that is constantly new and intriguing.

We’ve got a page for each of these three basic aims of rotation plus a sample plan that combines them. You can use these, or better, develop one that matches your needs in your garden.

A Nutrient Balancing Rotation

A Pest and Disease Rotation

A Weed Beater Rotation

A Composite Sample Rotation

ShepherdCrop Rotation

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