Use Crop Rotation for a Healthy Organic Garden

Another great vegetable gardening tip that accomplishes organic pest control and soil management in your garden is to use crop rotation.  This applies to almost all crops except your perennial vegetables like Rhubarb or AsparagusCrop rotation.  Crop rotation can be as simple as making sure you don’t plant the same vegetables in the same spot every year.  But in order to really protect your plants, its better to have a laid out plan on what and where you are going to be planting for at least three seasons.

Why Crop rotation?

Rotating your crops has a couple of benefits for your vegetable garden.  Vegetable pests and diseases tend to stick around when they find their preferred food source.  By rotating your crops you are removing their source of food and forcing them to move in order to find them again. This gives you more time in the following year to prepare for them and protect your plants better.  Pests can stick around for a couple years in nay given location so this is why you want to wait at least 3 years before you grow that same vegetable in that location.  The best way to keep track of this is to keep a journal and record where you planted each vegetable so that you can properly plan your next years garden.

In order to grow, your organic vegetables will be taking specific nutrients out of the soil.  Each vegetable requires a different set of nutrients to grow healthy.  By rotating your crops you are making sure that no one area gets fully depleted of a specific nutrient.  By using crop rotation and adding organic matter you’ll make sure that your soil stays in top condition for all of your vegetables.

How to Use Crop Rotation

As already mentioned, a successful crop rotation cycle will span 3 or 4 years, with no vegetable being grown in the same spot for the full 3 or 4 years.  In order to visualize this think of the following scenario.  You have 3 ‘area’s of your garden.  We’ll call them Spot 1, Spot 2 and Spot 3.  You also break your vegetables into 3 different groupings, Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3.
If you wanted to do a 3 year rotation it would follow something like this.

Year 1:  Spot 1: Group 1, Spot 2: Group 2, Spot 3: Group 3
Year 2:  Spot 1: Group 3, Spot 2: Group 1, Spot 3: Group 2
Year 3:  Spot 1: Group 2, Spot 2: Group 3, Spot 3: Group 1
Year 4: Start at Year 1 again.

As you can see its as simple as just moving each group over one spot every year, and following through the cycle.  In a 4 year cycle, some organic gardeners will make the 4th group contain nitrogen fixing vegetables and plants which put more nutrients back into the soil then they take out.  These will be items like Legumes (Peas, Beans) or certain cover crops like clovers.

Crop rotation is one organic gardening tip that everyone should follow, as it requires little extra work and has large benefits for your gardens pest control and soil management needs.