What Is the Purpose of Rotating Crops in My Home Vegetable Garden?

I will give you an example to explain my theory: if you grew tomatoes in the same spot year after year, the soil would quickly become depleted of nutrients. Any pest or disease that is particular to tomatoes would thrive in the soil, overwintering from year to year.

Crop rotation is practiced by grain farmers all around the world for this same reason, so we should take a lesson from them, and instead of having our vegetable garden the same each year, help our vegetables to grow better, and the plants to remain healthier by rotating our garden plans from year to year.

Crop rotation, combined with adding organic matter each season, helps the soil replenish those depleted nutrients. When practicing crop rotation, you don’t grow the same plant (or even related plants like peppers, eggplants, or potatoes) in the same place for at least three consecutive years. The second year, by planting something else in the soil, any specific plant-related pests and diseases that survived the winter would find no particular plants to feed on. Usually with several years between planting of the same crop, the pests and diseases will die off from lack of a host plant.

Truthfully, this rule also applies to several flowers such as gladiolus, asters and tulips, to name a few, that need to be rotated to avoid an accumulation of pathogens in the soil. For crop rotation to work, the same plant should not be grown within a radius of 10′ from where it was previously planted. By this statement, I mean, that if you plant corn in four rows, you must keep corn at least 10′ away from the edges of the planting in successive years.

I would recommend that when you plan your garden on paper before seeding in the spring, you, at that time, make a three-year plan with the first section that you draw out containing heavy feeders and most root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, onions, leeks, and so forth. The next section could be for peas, beans, corn, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce and the next section would consist of things like cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, rutabaga, turnips and radishes. The last section could be for rhubarb, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, sea kale, perennial herbs and such things.

Rotate the above-noted crops for three years and in the fourth year, you can return to the way I have laid it out for you above if you grow these vegetables.

It would be extremely beneficial to you to learn which plants are moderate feeders, what each plant provides to your soil and what nutrients certain plants (vegetables) deplete your soil of (including those questionable plants you tend to grow out of curiosity or because your neighbor grows these plants and you want to grow them as well).

Unfortunately, you never find this information (important as it is) printed on the packages of seeds that you may purchase each year – you may have to utilize some other resources.

Do you intend to have a three-year vegetable crop rotation in your home vegetable garden?