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Vegetable Garden Crop Rotation | An Easy Garden Guide

Crop Rotation
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Plants need good soil, good nutrients, water, and sunlight. Nature provides the sunlight and rain, we provide additional water when necessary……so what about the soil?

In addition to soil additives, this simple Crop Rotation Guide demonstrates how to rotate your vegetable plants to fortify the soil! Rotating your crops means creating an order in the planting of your vegetables so that higher feeders are followed by givers and givers are followed by low feeding vegetable plants.

Vegetable Garden Crop Rotation

This system of allows the plants to help build organic nutrients in your garden soil. You can follow the 3-Year Rotation or the 4-Year Rotation Plans depending on the size of your garden and available space.

For further reading on all things gardening make sure to get The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible as it is an extremely handy guide.

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We can add things to the soil to build up the nutrient content; which is the basis for starting a healthy garden.

Depending on your geographic location, soils vary tremendously and need different soil amendments. It is easy to find out how to test your soil with this inexpensive soil tester from Amazon.

Examples of Natural Soil Amendments:

Three-field system

The three-field system is a regime of crop rotation that was used in medieval and early-modern Europe. Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of different types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons. Crop rotation – Wikipedia
 

Overview of Crop Rotation:

Plants require varying amounts of minerals and nutrients to grow. Some plants are High Feeders, some are Low Feeders and then some are Givers!!!

potato plants in country garden

Here is a super simple chart on Vegetable Garden Crop Rotation. I have followed the concept of this chart for decades…….

Vegetable Garden Crop Rotation Chart

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Crop Rotation:

This simple chart is an easy-to-use reminder on how to rotate your garden plants year after year.  Plan your planting schedule with this rotation cycle in mind.

The high feeders take the most out of the soil while the givers had nitrogen back into the soil.  

⇒High Feeders ⇒ Givers ⇒ Low Feeders ⇒ High Feeders

Rotating your crops on an annual basis is also helpful in keeping down plant disease.  But still, keep a watchful eye on your plants to make sure they stay healthy.

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3-Year Rotation Cycle:  

High Feeders ⇒ Givers ⇒ Low Feeders ⇒ High Feeders

High Feeders include:

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Squash
  • Pumpkins
  • Lettuces
  • Spinach
  • Melons
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Scallions
  • Corn
  • Garlic

Givers include:

  • Clovers
  • Peas
  • Snow
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Pole Beans

Low Feeders include:

  • Root Crops
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Collard Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Carrots
  • Most Herbs
  • Beets
  • Kale

If you have the room, you may want to implement a 4-Year Rotation Cycle by dividing the Low Feeders into Light Feeders and Low Feeders. See the list below:

4-Year Rotation Cycle:  

High Feeders ⇒ Givers ⇒ Low Feeders ⇒ Light Feeders ⇒ High Feeders

High Feeders include:

  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Turnips
  • Bell Peppers
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew

Givers include:

  • Clovers
  • Peas
  • Snow
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Pole Beans

Low Feeders include:

  • Lettuces
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Scallions
  • Small Fruited Peppers
  • Watermelon
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Sweet Corn

Light Feeders include:

  • Root Crops
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Collard Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Carrots
  • Most Herbs
  • Beets
  • Kale

And, then it is back to High Feeders and the cycle begins all over again. Not everyone has space and time to implement the 4-year rotation program but if you do, your soil will thrive.

If you have enough space, consider allowing one of your beds to rest for a season or simply plant a winter cover crop that is planted in the fall. Just make sure to plant early enough to give the cover crop time to grow. September is a good month to plant a cover crop.

Consider planting a “green manure” which is a fast-growing crop that is turned back turned under to enrich the soil.

GOOD COVER CROPS or GREEN MANURES ARE:

Buckwheat

Mustards

Hairy Vetch

Crimson Clovers

Spring Green Manure Mix

Fall Green Manure Mix

Green Manures are living growing plants that are turned under just before maturity to add a variety of nutrients back into the soil. Depending on your growing conditions and location, you will need to determine the best time to plant and turn your green manure back into the ground.

 

Green manure

 
In agriculture, green manure is created by leaving uprooted or sown crop parts to wither on a field so that they serve as a mulch and soil amendments. The plants used for green manure are often cover crops grown primarily for this purpose. Typically, they are plowed under and incorporated into the soil while green or shortly after flowering. Green manure is commonly associated with organic farming and can play an important role in sustainable annual cropping systems.  Green manure – Wikipedia
 
 
 
Basket of Fresh Vegetables
Vegetable Garden Crop Rotation Helps Yield Beautiful Vegetables
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Soil Amendments:

Organic matter is extremely beneficial in building a loamy, vibrant, healthy soil. This organic matter is what creates a fabulous growing environment for your garden vegetables.

Having a compost pile is a super way to create this FREE rich beneficial organic matter that will build this rich loamy soil.

Mulch is another excellent way to build super complex living soil. Take a look at how to create rich garden soil by mulching.

 

MULCH

Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil. Reasons for applying mulch include conservation of soil moisture, improving fertility and health of the soil, reducing weed growth and enhancing the visual appeal of the area. Mulch – Wikipedia

Related Post:

3-YEAR ROTATION:

High Feeders ⇒ Low Feeders ⇒ Givers

4-YEAR ROTATION:

High Feeders ⇒ Light Feeders ⇒ Low Feeders ⇒ Givers

Take a look at the following posts for growing lettuces and greens, how to find your perfect garden spot and how to store your carrots for winter in the refrigerator!

Growing Lettuces and Greens

6 Steps on How to Find the Perfect Garden Spot

Store Carrots for Winter in Your Refrigerator

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4 Comments

  • Margy
    April 29, 2018 at 3:30 am

    My float garden is so small it is hard to get a crop rotation going. I augment my soil each year to compensate. The downside is that crop specific pests are harder to control. – Margy

    Reply
    • Original Homesteading
      April 30, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Margy, thank you for your comment. I find the idea of a float garden to be fascinating. I appreciate you sharing this; I actually had to look up float gardens. The concept is great…..watering must be a breeze for you!!!! I really enjoy learning about these very ingenious ideas which enable others to garden and grow their own food no matter their location. I wish you all the best in your gardening adventure.

      Reply
  • Lisa Lombardo
    May 15, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    A ton of great information in this article! Thank you so much for sharing your post on Farm Fresh Tuesdays!

    Reply
    • Original Homesteading
      May 24, 2019 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Lisa, glad you found this information of interest. Rotating my garden crops has also put me on a schedule of what to plant where and when!!! 🙂

      Reply

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