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Crop Rotation

Crop Rotation

The most basic form of crop rotation is also the simplest: never plant the same thing in the same place twice. A good crop rotation plan is 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.

The aim of rotation is threefold: to balance nutrient demands, foil insect and disease attacks, and deter weeds. Figuring out rotations, and finding an elegant solution to the puzzles of planning, can be fascinating work.

Nutrient Rotation

  • The challenge here is trying to balance the nutrient demands each crop makes on the soil.
  • Divide your crops into the following four types, for four different seasonal rotations:
    –Leaves: Thrive on nitrogen; examples include lettuce, salad greens, chicory, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and kohlrabi.
    –Fruits: Need phosphorus; examples include squashes, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
    –Roots: Love potassium; examples include onions, shallots, garlic, scallions, leeks, carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes.
    –Soil builders and cleaners: Legumes are excellent for the soil because because they store nitrogen from the air and release it into the soil; examples of cleaners include corn and potatoes, examples of builders include beans and peas.

    The first season of planting could be devoted to leafy plants, the next season to fruits, followed by the root plants and then legumes.

    Prevention Rotation

  • Crop rotation can also break the cycles of pest and disease problems that build up in soils planted repeatedly to the same crop.The idea is to plan your rotation so that no two crops subject to similar diseases follow one another within the disease’s incubation period. The same principle holds for insect pests: crop rotation makes it harder for emerging insects to find their preferred food each spring.
  • Plant Rotation List by Family
    –Squash: melons, squash, cucumber, and pumpkins.
    –Mustard: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, mustard, radishes, and turnips.
    –Tomato: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes.
    –Beet: beets, spinach, and chard.
    –Legumes: beans and peas.
    –Onion: onions, leeks, scallions, garlic, and shallots.
    –Carrot: Carrots, dill, parsnips, and parsley.

  • Read more: Nature, Lawns & Gardens

    Adapted from Straight-Ahead Organic,by Shepherd Ogden. Copyright (c)1992, 1999 by Shepherd Ogden. Reprinted by permission of Chelsea Green Publishing Company.
    Adapted from Straight-Ahead Organic,by Shepherd Ogden

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    Annie B. Bond

    Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

    Go to the Source

    Straight-Ahead Organic, by Shepherd Ogden

    This is a new and revised edition of Shepherd Ogden's Step-by-Step Organic Vegetable Gardening, a book that introduced thousands of gardeners to the benefits and techniques of organic processes. Although the author is by any definition a Master Grower, this book intended for the amateur enthusiast who is poised to make the leap to now


    + add your own
    1:22AM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

    Thanks for the article.

    8:22AM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

    Thank you for sharing:)

    5:31PM PST on Feb 6, 2010

    Thank you for this information.

    8:49PM PDT on Jun 28, 2008

    i am new at this but what would be a good vegetasble to grow in a bed that we just finished our spinach from over the winter. any suggestions

    4:46PM PST on Feb 13, 2008

    not only does crop rotation contribute to maintaining the appropriate balance within your soil, it also keeps it from eroding. When you have strip crops, such as corn, the wind tends to blow down the center of the rows, causing the un-used soil to blow away. So, the next year you may want to plant a solid crop, such as alfalfa or barley. You could possibly plant soybean, it is planted in small rows but there is little space between. We are really hitting this topic in my Wildlife class at my high school, and it has really made me consider jus how important crop rotation really is.

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