Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crafting a Sensible Crop Rotation

For the first few years of our garden, I've tried to avoid growing the same crop twice in the same garden bed. But there was a sort of nagging realization that this approach needed to be tightened up. Two crops can be different, but still heavy feeders, and such bed would need a break. Still, this is difficult in a small, mostly shaded, food garden. Sun-thirsty plants such as eggplants and tomatoes only work in a minority of our garden beds.

This year I am following a rotation plan that I'll put the beds on from here on out. This might mean that if I want tomatoes or other heat lovers, I'll go to self-watering containers set in the front of the house, which we cannot use to plant because of the septic field. But I feel pretty good about this keeping our rotation managed, and I'm grateful to have found such a helpful plan. Check it out at the "Harvest to Table" website! Beds are divided into four plot groups, then rotated through on a four-year plan. The authors recommend grouping together in one's garden, but since I'm not beginning with a new space, that didn't work here. Also, I think scattering plot types has other benefits in my garden: the shadier spots are divided among groups, and insects attracted to a particular crop have to work harder to find their food of choice!

Always nice to have a nagging concern addressed!


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the crop rotation information!! This is EXACTLY what I needed while I "plan" my garden beds for this year.
~Mrs. R

Kimberly said...

You're so welcome, Mrs. R! In previous years I've used little cutout rectangles on graph paper, and moved them around until I'm happy, but that project always took hours! This year was so much quicker with the new method, and in years to come, now that every bed is assigned a "group", it will be quicker yet. Hope it makes your garden planning quick and easy, too.