Vegetable Garden: Guide to Rotating Crops Vegetable Garden: Guide to Rotating Crops

Among the many advantages of rotating the vegetables you grow in your vegetable garden are improved growth, reduced disease, and fewer insect pests. Devise a multi-year rotation plan based on the steps below to provide a delicious variety of fresh vegetables for your family, and to maintain soil fertility. Vegetable gardening can involve the whole family. Children can be introduced to different tastes and textures, by eating most of these types raw, and will learn a great deal about the sources of their food.

Water your vegetable garden regularly, and harvest the vegetables as they ripen, to enjoy your own fresh produce all summer and into autumn.

Vegetable Gardening Rotation Plan

Year 1 - Establish four garden areas where you will relocate crops from year to year.

Plant 3 of your four areas as follows:  

  • Area 1 - Legumes - beans and peas. These fix nitrogen in the soil
  • Area 2 - Onion family - onions, garlic, leeks
  • Area 3 - Root vegetables - carrots, beets, parsnip, turnips

These break up the soil, promoting drainage
Prepare the fourth area with fertilizer, manure or compost to enrich soil, and cover with grass or clover.

Year 2 - Move the vegetable crops back one section. Maintain a fallow patch of fertile, resting soil.

  • Area 1 - Onions, garlic, leeks. Add lettuce, cucumbers, or sweet peppers. These pest and disease-resistant crops will grow well with any other vegetables.
  • Area 2 - Root vegetables
  • Area 3 - Leave fallow, and enrich soil with compost, manure or fertilizer
  • Area 4 - Legumes

Year 3 - This year, replace one of the vegetable types you have grown for 2 years with another type, such as Brassicas - cabbage, cauliflower and radish. Plant these in Area 4, where the soil is now rich in nitrogen.

  • Area 1 - Root vegetables
  • Area 2 - Leave fallow, and improve soil with fertilizer or manure.
  • Area 3 - Legumes. Add a small section of tomatoes and cucumbers this year for variety.
  • Area 4 - Brassicas - cabbage, cauliflower and radish

Year 4 - Replace the legumes this year with a potato family member, such as potatoes or tomatoes.

  • Area 1 - Leave fallow, enriching soil with compost, manure or fertilizer.
  • Area 2 - Brassicas - cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and radish
  • Area 3 - Potato family - tomatoes
  • Area 4 - Root vegetables. Add a new variety such as parsley, Florence fennel or celery

Year 5 - Rotate out the root vegetables, replacing with a mixed patch of beans, peas, onions, sweet peppers and tomatoes.

  • Area 1 - Brassicas - cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and radish
  • Area 2 - Potato family - potatoes.** Grow these alone in this area.
  • Area 3 - Mixed patch - legumes, onions, sweet peppers and tomatoes
  • Area 4 - Leave fallow. Fertilize soil.

** Do not grow potatoes where tomatoes have been grown in the previous year. As members of the same plant family, insect pests and disease common to both can spread through the soil.

Check with horticultural and agriculture societies in your area for more vegetable garden rotation tips.

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