Why Crop Rotation?
It’s all about working in harmony with Mother Nature. Basically, crop rotation is all about accommodating your current plant’s needs and anticipating future problems. How do you practice crop rotation? It’s simple. You place plants in different parts of the garden with each new planting season.
That’s it! Plants are categorized by group or family and then rotated accordingly. For example, peppers and tomatoes are part of the same plant family and attract the same bugs. By planting your peppers in the same spot you had your tomatoes, the hungry bugs will be ready and waiting for your new plants. Not good. So “opposites attract” means good health when it comes gardening. If you mix it up from season to season, you can outsmart the bugs!
An example of crop rotation would be: Beans (beans), Broccoli (leaves), Carrots (roots), Squash (fruits)
Say you plant beans in “Bed A” during spring, you’d want to plant broccoli in “Bed A” come fall, moving your beans to “Bed B.” Next spring, you can sow carrots in “Bed A,” cabbage in “Bed B” and beans in “Bed C” continuing the rotation for as many beds as you have.
Rotation Based on Need
Plants of the same family have similar “eating” habits. Some eat a lot. Some eat a little. If you plant cabbage in one section of your garden, be sure not to plant cabbage there again next season, because cabbage plants take a lot of nutrients out of the soil. They’re known as “soil cleaners.” As they grow, they take all the nutrients out of the soil. Broccoli and corn do, too.
Beans work in the opposite way. They actually put nutrients—nitrogen—back into the soil which is why they’re known as “soil builders.” Helping feed each other makes for perfect crop rotation partners, wouldn’t you agree?
That’s why we plant corn AFTER beans—or with them—because beans put “food” into the soil so corn can take it out. Add squash to the mix and you have the Three Sisters companion planting trio. Organic gardening is easy when you know the rules!
Depending on what you’re growing, you can change this order in your garden. The most important thing to remember is to MOVE your plants around.