Gardening 101: Crop Rotation

It depends on where you live but at our house the snow is falling!  All this time inside with cold weather reminds me that very soon the snow will be melting and spring will arrive. Its hard to believe that its already March which means its time to plan the garden.  This simple  series:Gardening 101 should give you the basics you need to start a successful garden this year.
This my advice to prevent bacterial, fungal, soil quality issues and pest problems in 2015: Rotate your crops!  In simple terms that means: change the planting location of your vegetables each year.  More specifically avoid planting a crop in the same plant group in the same area each gardening season. Basically keep moving things around from year to year.
Bacterial and fungal diseases can overwinter in your soil!
STEP 1: Categorize your plants into 4 GROUPS
 1. Legumes: Beans, Peas, Peanuts, Cover Crops
 2. Leaf/ Flower: Lettuce, Spinach, Broccoli, Cabbage 
3. Fruiting: Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, Eggplant, Squash, Melons, Potatoes, Corn
4. Roots: Onions, Garlic, Carrots, Turnips, Beets, Radishes

STEP 2:  Get out some paper and draw the outline of your garden.  Plant a different plant group (family) in each bed. NOTE: If you only have 1 bed you can simply divide it into 4 sections and then rotate the sections every year.

STEP 3: Draw your garden plan for the next 3 to 4 years. Rotate your plants based on the progression below:
Legumes ---> Leaf ---> Fruiting ---> Root
                 (nitrogen fixing)       (both are nitrogen fixing)            (breaks up soil)
         (like loose soil) 
STEP 4: Save your crop rotation plan in a place you can find it for the following year!  The next step is to layout the specific plants within each group. (Look for my next post to learn about planning your specific layouts)

NOTE: If you want to use a more advanced crop rotation system you can group plants based on their botanical family instead of these 4 groups.  But I like to try and keep things simple!  That way we have time to enjoy moments like these....because time is precious!

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