Choosing your crop rotation plan
If you have a small garden, you may not be able to set up an effective rotation by crop family. That's also true if you grow only a few kinds of crops. In that case, stick to a basic soil-balancing rotation. But if you have a large plot and grow many different crops, you may enjoy the challenge of setting up a rotation by crop family. Refer to the chart on the previous page to learn which crops belong to the same family.
Keep in mind that cover crops
can be included in a rotation plan to discourage specific types of pests and to improve soil. For example, beetle grubs thrive among most vegetables, but not in soil planted in buckwheat or clover. A season of either crop can greatly reduce grub populations and at the same time will increase soil organic matter content.
Rotating Vegetable Families
Susceptibility to pests and diseases runs in plant families. Leave at least two, and preferably three or more, years between the times you plant members of the same crop family in an area of your garden. When planning a rotation scheme, refer to this rundown of the seven family groups most often planted in vegetable gardens along with ideas for rotating them.
Rotate with legumes; avoid planting in soil with undecomposed organic matter.
Carrots, parsnips, parsley, dill, fennel, coriander:
Moderate feeders. Precede with any other plant family; condition soil with compost before planting. Follow with legumes or heavy mulch.
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, turnips:
High level of soil maintenance required for good root health. Heavy feeders. Precede with legumes; follow by first cultivating the soil to expose pests for predation, then spread compost.
Cucumbers, gourds, melons, squash, pumpkins, watermelons:
For improved pest control, precede with winter rye or wheat; follow with legumes.
Beans, peas, clovers, vetches:
Beneficial to soil; few pest problems. Rotate alternately with all other garden crops when possible.
Plant before tomato- or squash-family crops to control weeds and improve soil's ability to handle water.
Heavy feeders with many fungal enemies. Precede with cereal grain or grass; follow with legumes.