Q&A: Crop Rotation

Question: I’ve been told to rotate the crops in my vegetable garden. What does this mean, and how do I do it?

Answer: Crop rotation refers to the practice of planting crops in different spaces in the garden each year. In other words, if you grew carrots at the edge of the garden one year, you might grow them in the center of the garden the next year. Rotation is important because growing a certain crop in the same place each year can increase disease and insect problems, because these lie dormant in the soil over the winter.

To rotate your crops, simply make a note of where you planted what in year one, and in year two make a plan that is different. If you plant in rows, you could shift everything over one row. If you plant in a grid, you could shift all crops clockwise one square.

Vegetables in the same family are usually susceptible to the same pests and diseases, so whenever possible don’t plant a crop in a space its close relative inhabited the prior year. If you avoid planting close relatives next to each other, rotation will remain simple; you can still just shift rows or squares one degree.

Click here to see a list of vegetable crops in their families.

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