Rotating Your Vegetables in the Garden

Once we had all of our garden beds built, we had to decide how to lay out the plants within the beds.   We try to spread out our vegetables so we have a little bit of everything everywhere. We also rotate our vegetables and don’t plant them in the same location year after year.

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For example, last year we had sweet potatoes in this portion of one bed:

sweet potatoes 2013_blog

So this year we planted lettuce there:

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Where last year there were tomatoes:

last year tomatoes2013_blog

This year we also planted lettuce. (But the lettuce will be followed by green beans once the weather gets hot.)

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There are two main benefits to rotating your vegetables throughout your garden.

1. Rotating Vegetables Balances Soil Fertility.  Different vegetables have different nutrient needs. Tomatoes, for example, require a lot of nitrogen and phosphorus.  So if you plant tomatoes or other members of the nightshade family (peppers, eggplant) in the same spot year after year, the soil will not be properly balanced and will be nitrogen deficient.

By following tomatoes with lettuce and then green beans, it helps to balance the soil needs. The beans in particular will actually add nitrogen back into the soil (although they also require a lot of phosphorus).

Rotating vegetables and adding lots of manure are the best ways I know to make sure my soil stays healthy.  And healthy soil grows vegetables that are very nutrient dense.

2. Rotating Vegetables Prevents Disease and Pests.  Pests and diseases tend to go after plants in the same family.  So by spreading out your tomatoes and peppers, it doesn’t give pests a huge feeding ground of their favorite foods.  It also helps to keep down the spread of disease.

It doesn’t mean you won’t ever see flea beetles or catepillars, but it can help to make them not a major problem.

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To be honest, we don’t give a lot of thought ahead of time to where and how we’re going to plant things.  We just naturally remember where we planted vegetables last year and try to move them to a different spot.

PJ

 

 

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  • Joanne

    You have a beautiful garden. I used to live in a home with a small garden, mostly tomatoes, beans and whatever else we could fit in. I now live in an apartment. Luckily we have a deck on the roof of the garage that I plant tomatoes and cucumbers in containers. I just don’t know what I would do without home grown tomatoes in my life. : D And you’re children are learning so much about life by watching your garden grow and how hard the upkeep is to make it look that good. They are going to be very well rounded adult.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Thanks, Joanne. I agree. A garden is about more than just good food. It’s a character builder. 🙂 PJ

  • Jen Anthony

    Hi PJ. I’m drooling over your raised beds. We put in raised beds three summers ago but they are not nearly as high as I’d like them to be plus they are wood and will need replacing in a few years. We are still having trouble with weeds and overcrowding. We’ve been getting so much rain here in central Maryland that everything is growing like mad, especially the tomatoes and pumpkins. But with a 7 month old it’s awfully hard to get out there. Anyway your garden looks terrific !

    • goatmilkstuff

      Jen – I know what you’re talking about! I did it like that for a decade, and as my wood beds would rot, I would set about reinforcing them because I did NOT want to rebuild them from scratch. And if I remember correctly, it’s hard to get to a LOT of stuff with a 7 month old. LOL There were several years, I planted and then just harvested amongst the weeds. 😉 PJ

  • Adrianna

    Your garden is beautiful, PJ! Do you have any tips for how to grow those large cabbage heads? We are in Indiana, but my cabbage never turn into anything much.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Yep – lots of rabbit manure and get the right variety – there are some that are larger than others. 🙂 PJ