Crop Rotation within the Small Vegetable Backyard — Harvest to Desk

Planting beds

Crop rotation means shifting greens across the backyard to keep up soil fertility. By rotating crops from one spot to a different every season—and even in the identical season, you’ll be able to protect and even increase vitamins within the soil. Differing crops use completely different quantities of soil vitamins and some crops add vitamins to the soil.

How Crops Have an effect on the Soil

Some crops are heavy feeders; heavy feeders embody tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, corn, eggplant, beets, lettuce, and different leafy crops.

Some crops are gentle feeders: gentle feeders embody garlic, onions, peppers, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, candy potatoes, Swiss chard, and turnips.

Some crops are soil builders: soil builders embody peas, beans, and canopy crops corresponding to clover.

Rotating these three teams of crops makes one of the best use of vitamins within the soil.

Easy Crop Rotation

Easy crop rotation would plant heavy feeders in a devoted planting mattress the primary 12 months, adopted by gentle feeders in the identical mattress the second 12 months, adopted by soil builders the third 12 months. This rotation presumes there are separate planting areas large enough for all the crops you wish to plant in every of the three rotation teams.

You probably have greater than three planting beds and develop a lot of greens you’ll be able to dedicate a couple of mattress to every group annually and nonetheless preserve the rotation.

Small planting bed
Crop rotation shouldn’t be doable in a single planting mattress. Feed the soil to keep away from the lack of vitamins.

Small Backyard Crop Rotation

Crop rotation in small gardens will be tough; let’s say you solely have one or two planting beds. In that case, you’ll be able to nonetheless rotate crops merely to differing spots. You possibly can comply with a tomato with a bean one 12 months after the opposite. Or you’ll be able to change a heavy-feeding crop corresponding to broccoli grown within the spring or fall with peas within the spring or beans the following summer season. You may also change a heavy feeder with a inexperienced manure cowl crop that feeds the soil; cowl crops that feed the soil embody dwarf white clover or furry vetch.

Including loads of aged compost to planting beds earlier than the season begins, after harvest, and as a facet dressing through the rising season is one other solution to increase or change vitamins within the soil, however that isn’t crop rotation.

Crop Rotation by Harvest Teams

Crop rotation by harvest teams is a straightforward rotation technique: rotate leafy crops, root crops, and fruiting crops. Harvest group rotation shouldn’t be a exact crop rotation technique (for instance, peppers are gentle feeders and tomatoes are heavy feeders, however each are fruiting crops—however it’s a simple solution to group vegetation and to recollect the rotation from one 12 months to the following. A easy three-year crop rotation divides crops into their harvest teams:

  1. Leafy crops—lettuce, spinach, and members of the cabbage household corresponding to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
  2. Root crops: carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes
  3. Fruiting crops (flowering crops): tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, squash

Into this combine, you’ll be able to add cowl crops to comply with fruiting crops. As a result of fruiting crops are virtually all summer season crops—tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, eggplants, they end harvest in early autumn and their planting space will be replanted with a winter cowl crop corresponding to winter rye or fava beans. In spring, the quilt crop is turned below and leafy crops will be planted to proceed the rotation. This rotation would appear to be this:

  1. Fruiting crop
  2. Cowl crop
  3. Leafy crop
  4. Root crop
Planting beds planted
Separate beds make crop rotation simpler.

Crop Rotation by Plant Household

Crop rotation by plant household is maybe essentially the most conventional solution to rotate crops although it may be tough in a small backyard of only one or two beds. Within the plant household rotation, crops from the identical household usually are not planted in the identical spot any extra typically than each three years.

Crop rotation by plant household not solely maintains soil fertility but additionally is one of the best ways to keep away from assaults by pests and ailments; particular pests and ailments are inclined to assault vegetation from the identical household. By rotating plant households, pests usually are not simply capable of finding the vegetation they wish to assault.

Notable vegetable plant households 

  • Squash household: cucumber, zucchini, winter squash, melons (heavy feeders)
  • Cabbage household: arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale (heavy feeders)
  • Tomato household: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants (largely heavy feeders)
  • Bean household: beans and peas (soil enrichers)
  • Lettuce household: endive, sunchokes, artichokes (heavy feeders)
  • Carrot household: celery, parsnips, parsley, fennel, cilantro (largely gentle feeders)
  • Onion household: onions, shallots, leeks (gentle feeders)
  • Spinach household: beets, spinach, Swiss chard (gentle to medium feeders)

Rotation by plant household will take some planning; you’ll be able to match up gentle feeders to rotate with heavy feeders and separate the 2 with the soil builders.

Associated Articles:

Crop Rotation in Small Vegetable Backyard

Crop Rotation Planning

Vegetable Crop Rotation

Cowl Crops and Inexperienced Manure for the Vegetable Backyard.

Extra Crop Rotation Sources:

Vegetable Backyard Almanac & Planner

Crop Rotation on Natural Farms

Crop Rotation and Cowl Cropping

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