Homesteading is the best way to live a self-sufficient life. As a homesteader, I haven’t heard about crop rotation and certainly not in the reference to the backyard homestead in my journey so far. But now I indulged myself to know the importance of this for successful gardens. Let’s see how!
First of all, let us learn what crop rotation is and what crops need to be rotated?
What Is Crop Rotation?
Crop rotation is a simple and organized plan to rotate crops from one year to next. Basically, you are just moving crops around so you are not growing the same family of vegetables in the same area year after the year. If you follow perfect crop rotation, you will end up growing the same family of plants in the area one out of every three growing seasons.
This process is generally used by large organic farmers and rarely by standard commercial farmers. Even though crop rotation sounds more confusing than it is but the benefits in your backyard will help it significantly.
Here are some benefits of crop rotation.
Preserving Soil Health And Condition:
Generally, crop families are heavy feeders or heavy givers to the soil. So, crop rotation will use this to greatest advantage to keep your soil healthy and fertile. For example, tomatoes are heavy feeders and require nutrient-dense soil. After growing tomatoes, you must follow with a vegetable that requires fewer nutrients like carrots or corn.
Controls Pests And Diseases:
Using a rotating system and moving that family of crops each year virtually help you to get rid of specific pests and diseases like root rot fungal infections etc.
Which Crops Need To Be Rotated?
Make sure to concentrate on families of crops that are super easy for rotation.
You can breakup your family into groups:
• Onion Family: Onion, Shallot, Leek, Chive, Garlic.
• Carrot Family: Carrot, Celery, Parsley.
• Lettuce Family: Lettuce, Chicory, Endive
• Squash Family: Cucumber, Watermelon, Pumpkin, Squash, Gourds
• Cabbage Family: Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Bok Choy, Collards, Mustard, Radish, Rutabaga, Turnip.
• Tomato Family: Tomato, Potato, Pepper, Eggplant.
• Legume Family: Bean, Pea, Cowpea, Peanut.
• Grass Family: Corn, Wheat.
Is It Possible To Do Crop Rotation On Raised Beds?
Of course yes, crop rotation can also be done or should be practiced on raised beds and square foot gardening. However, more attention is needed depending on how close your boxes are spaced when it comes to crop-specific beds. Just follow the guide in planting your boxes each year.
Remember, crop rotation is only one element of healthy gardens. You still need to keep your beds with rich compost and focus on bed preparation between seasons.
Crop rotation brings you a healthy appearance to your backyard garden. So, try to employ it as you plan this next season’s crop!
Homesteading is a lifestyle for many people around the world. Following some tricks and tips results you healthy crop! Happy Homesteading!